Tag Archive for Gonzalo Aranguiz Salazar

Christine Dahab sentencing Friday, LA City Council takes up hit-and-run reform, Gardena police sued

Just a couple quick notes to wrap up a busy and exhausting day.

First up, a comment from Renee Andreassen sends word that Christine Dahab, the allegedly drunk and distracted driver who plowed into 13 bicyclists on a late night ride in Culver City in 2011, will be sentenced on Friday.

Christine Dahab, who hit 13 bicyclists June 2011 will be sentenced Friday July 26, 2013 at 
West District
Airport Courthouse,
 11701 South La Cienega Blvd.
 Los Angeles, CA 90045
 Dept D

I hope all of the victims will come to give their victim impact statements. 
I would appreciate any assistance this website can get out to those impacted by this horrible event

Dahab pleaded no contest to all charges last April, apparently including DUI causing injury and DWI with a BAC over .08 causing injury.

She was sentenced to a 90-day evaluation period in state prison pending final sentencing. So she’s already spent more time behind bars than most drivers do even in fatal collisions. And could face a lot more.

I have other obligations Friday, so if anyone attends the sentencing, please let us know how it turns out.

………

Hit-and-run rears its ugly head once again in L.A. But this time, they may actually do something about it.

From the blog of the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition:

The Public Safety Committee will hear the LAPD report on Friday, July 26th at 8:30 AM in City Hall Room 1010.  Please join LACBC in requesting that the City take a leadership role to fix state law to increase penalties for hit-and-run.  You can also write the committee members at councilmember.englander@lacity.org, councildistrict15@lacity.org, councilmember.bonin@lacity.org, and councilmember.ofarrell@lacity.org.

No matter how you parse the numbers — and the LAPD has been roundly criticized for attempting to put the best face on a dismal record — the city ranks at or near the top among major cities for cowardly drivers refusing to take responsibility for their actions behind the wheel.

Fortunately, the department appears to be taking the problem seriously. And they seem to have been listening to me, with recommendations including:

  • Automatic license consequences — hopefully including revocation
  • Possible hold or forfeiture of the vehicle used in the crime
  • More significant consequences, including tougher penalty enhancements
  • Limit civil compromises
  • Extend the statute of limitations for hit-and-runs that result in death or serious injury

………

Not surprisingly, Gardena police are being sued for civil rights violations and excessive force in the shooting death of Ricardo Diaz-Zeferino, who was killed by police while trying to help recover his brother’s stolen bicycle.

Diaz-Zeferino reportedly ran up to police as they held guns on two of his friends, shouting in English that they weren’t the thieves, but were trying to help find the bike.

And that’s when they shot him eight times, including twice in the back. As well as hitting one of his friends, resulting in permanent injuries.

Not that they overreacted or anything.

………

Finally, the arraignment for Gonzalo Aranguiz Salazar, the driver accused in the death of Cal Poly Pomona bike rider Ivan Aguilar, has been postponed until September.

Salazar faces a single misdemeanor count of vehicular manslaughter without gross negligence. The relatively light charge may reflect the fact that was reportedly Aguilar riding against traffic, as many students do in that location, due to a lack of safe bicycling infrastructure.

Meanwhile, discussions are underway to make much-needed bike and pedestrian safety improvements on campus.

Hopefully before someone else gets killed.

Charge filed in death of bike-riding Cal Poly Pomona student Ivan Aguilar; is the university really at fault?

A bike-riding college student is dead.

The driver who took his life faces a relative slap on the wrist.

And the campus where he was killed appears to be doing little or nothing to protect cyclists on campus.

Instead, Cal Poly Pomona seems to be hiding behind California’s devastating 85th Percentile Law to justify plans to raise speed limits on campus, making it even more dangerous for anyone on foot or two wheels.

Or at least, that was the gist of a Twitter conversation I had with representatives of the school Wednesday morning.

The outpouring of grief that followed the death of Cal Poly Pomona student and cyclist Ivan Aguilar should have spurred immediate action to tame what is reportedly dangerously out of control traffic on campus, where numerous students have reported feeling unsafe walking or biking.

Yet four months later, no changes have been made to protect students and faculty — not even on the street where Aguilar lost his life. And none are currently planned.

In fact, the school’s new 2013 traffic study doesn’t even include the words bicycle, bicyclist or pedestrian, according to a story by Beau Yarbrough in the Daily Bulletin.

Kind of makes it hard to make meaningful improvements when nothing is considered except speeding motor vehicle traffic flow.

Although to be fair, they have talked about bikes.

Key word being, talked.

But traffic plans that don’t even consider non-motorized transportation show just how out of touch campus leaders are. And how far the school has to go to make it safe for anyone, let alone everyone, whether on two feet, two wheels or four.

Apparently, those students are right to be afraid.

Especially when the death of a popular and promising young man leads to nothing more serious than a misdemeanor charge with a maximum penalty of just one year in county jail.

According to the Daily Bulletin, CPP Civil Engineering student Gonzalo Aranguiz Salazar will face a charge of misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter without gross negligence.

In other words, pretty much the mildest charge authorities could file under the circumstances, while still holding someone accountable for the death.

Is that justice?

I have no idea.

I’ve yet to see any description from any source of how the collision occurred. No word whatsoever on how fast the driver was going, or if he broke any traffic laws leading up to the impact with Aguilar.

Apparently, it’s on a need to know basis.  And no one with knowledge of the investigation seems to think you or I need to know.

We’re just expected to accept that the charges are fair and appropriate given the top secret circumstances.

Sort of like we’re supposed to trust that campus administrators have the safety of their students at heart, on a campus that does not include a single inch of bicycling infrastructure.

Beverly Hills, meet your collegiate counterpart.

In all honesty, I’m not sure Salazar is the one who should be facing charges.

But you can’t charge a college with living in the auto-centric past and favoring motorists at the expense of every other road user. As much as it may be deserved.

But something tells me Cal Poly Pomona won’t make the list of bicycle-friendly universities anytime soon.

Update: Gottobike forwards a quote from American bike racer Ted King that seems oddly appropriate to this discussion:

It is impossible to find solutions when you’re busy making excuses.

And Boyonabike reminds me of something I let slide from the Daily Bulletin story about the Salazar charge, and shouldn’t have. 

The story quotes Megan Chaney, director of Clinical Programs and Experiential Learning and Associate Professor of Law at the University of La Verne College of Law, explaining why a misdemeanor charge may be appropriate in this case.

“A lot of time when somebody plows into somebody in a crosswalk or an intersection, it’s just an accident,” Chaney said Wednesday. “We put the onus, the responsibility on the driver, not the pedestrian, unless they’ve done something really horrible….”

“You’re allowed to look at the radio; that’s why you’ve got a radio. You drop your water bottle and look down to pick it up,” she said. “You really weren’t acting with any sort of criminal culpability. “

That’s the problem.

As a society, we’ve chosen not to hold drivers responsible for all but the most extreme actions behind the wheel. The collisions that result from carelessness, distraction or relatively minor violations of the law are excused as mere accidents, and left for the insurance companies to deal with, with little or no consequences for the drivers involved.

And that’s why we continue to have 30,000 +/- deaths on American streets each year.

It may be the current legal standard. 

But actions that result in the death or serious injuries of others should never be accepted. Or excused. Motor vehicles are, by their very nature, dangerous machines, and their operators can and should be expected to use the same caution behind the wheel that we expect from those involved in any other hazardous situation.

When life is taken more seriously than simple convenience on our streets, then — and only then — will anyone be safe on our streets.

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