Tag Archive for Haitham Gamal

100-plus mph, underage drunk driver gets four years for 2014 death of bicyclist Haytham Gamal

Four years.

Four years behind bars for driving at speeds over 100 mph in a 35 mph zone, with a blood alcohol level nearly twice the legal limit.

And taking the life of an innocent man as he rode his bike home from work on Pacific Coast Highway in Dana Point, after losing control on a slight curve and skidding 200 feet before striking the victim from behind. Then dragging him another 500 feet before flipping over after hitting the curb.

Needless to say, the victim, 39-year-old Haitham Gamal, was pronounced dead at the scene.

All because he had the misfortune of sharing the road with then 19-year old Dominic Devin Carratt that tragic April night in 2014.

Carratt pleaded guilty last month to A) one count of felony vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence while intoxicated, B) one count of felony driving under the influence of alcohol causing bodily injury, and C) one count of felony driving with a blood alcohol of .08 percent or more causing bodily injury, along with a sentencing enhancement for great bodily injury.

Yet even though the victim’s wife implored the court to give him the maximum 10-year sentence, the judge showed leniency, deserved or not.

I’m told he imposed a sentence of four years in state prison for the first count, another two years for the second count, to be served concurrently, and stayed an additional two years for the third count.

Carratt will also be required to pay restitution in an amount to be determined at a later date, and his driver’s license will be suspended for three years after his release.

Though why he would ever be allowed to drive again is beyond me.

A woman in the courtroom for the sentencing noted that Carratt’s mother gave him a long, tearful embrace as he walked to the front of the courtroom.

It may be a long time before she gets another chance.

Thanks to Edward M. Rubinstein for the heads-up. 

Dominic Carratt sentence


Morning Links: Glendale bike rider attacked by SUV driver, and guilty plea in 100 mph Orange County DUI case

It’s happened again.

A woman riding her bike in Glendale is the latest bike rider to be the victim of an apparent intentional assault by the road raging driver of a motor vehicle.

The 29-year old woman, who hasn’t been publicly identified, was riding on San Fernando Road near Magnolia Ave around 4:40 pm last Friday when the driver of an SUV allegedly pulled up next to her and swerved into her bike, striking her ankle.

After the victim yelled that she’d been hit, the driver yelled something back and swerved into her again, nearly crushing the rider between the SUV and a parked car after she turned her bike to avoid getting hit.

Police arrested 53-year old Glendale resident Nazik Ghazarian on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon; she was taken into custody after another driver blocked her car while bystanders called police.

Meanwhile her legally blind husband, who was riding with her in the SUV, told police Ghazarian did nothing to “agitate” the cyclist.

The victim reported pain in her ankle, but declined treatment at the scene.

After all, who would get agitated over a little thing like multiple counts of assault with a deadly weapon?


The OC Register reports 20-year old Dominic Devin Carratt faces up to 10 years in prison after pleading guilty to the DUI death of cyclist Haitham Gamal as the victim was riding home from work in April, 2014.

In a horrifying detail that wasn’t reported at the time, Carratt was going over 100 mph when he slammed into Gamal’s bike; he had a BAC nearly twice the legal limit, despite being just 19-years old at the time of the wreck.

According to the paper, he pled to a long list of charges.

Carratt pleaded guilty to vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence while intoxicated, driving under the influence of alcohol causing bodily injury, driving with a blood-alcohol level above the legal limit causing bodily injury and he admitted a sentencing enhancement for causing great bodily injury.


Pro cycling’s governing body considers testing team bikes before each race to prevent motor doping. They should also stop the practice of allowing riders to switch bikes mid-race, which is the easiest way to get, and hide, a tampered bike.



The LA City Council Transportation Committee will consider a motion directing LADOT to report on the implementation of the bicycle infrastructure in the City at this afternoon’s meeting. Based on recent progress, that could be a very short report.

Several dozen protesters associated with T.R.U.S.T. South Los Angeles gathered on Central Ave to fight a proposal from Councilmember Curren Price to remove the street from the Mobility Plan. Someone should tell Price not to judge a bikeway by what he’d be comfortable using; not everyone is looking for a quiet place to ride with their grandkids.

The maker of Lucky Brand jeans offers their own private bikeshare system for employees of their offices in DTLA.

High-end British bikewear maker Rapha pops up on Abbot Kinney for the next two months.

Caltrans presents alternatives to replace the Trancas Creek bridge on PCH in the ‘Bu; both versions include a wider shoulder to make room for bikes and pedestrians.

A Pasadena bike rider is in serious condition after he was hit head-on by a driver who veered onto the wrong side of the road.

Temple City will select a final design for Las Tunas Road at the city council meeting on Thursday; make your voice heard to ensure they choose the safest option for cyclists and pedestrians.



A group of Olympic cyclists and hopefuls, including the great Kristin Armstrong, urged middle school students in El Cajon to believe in themselves. And have fun.

A Berkeley OpEd says the city needs to work to provide greater safety for bicyclists.

More bad news from Sacramento, as a second bike rider has been killed in a collision this week.



A Portland study says a good bikeway network helps riders avoid dirty air.

Las Vegas’ coming bikeshare system will be just part of a new transportation innovation district in the downtown area.

Wyoming considers creating a committee to study a network of bike and pedestrian paths crossing the state. Having crisscrossed the state many times, safe bikeways through the mountains and prairies of the state would be absolutely amazing; you haven’t lived until you’ve ridden with a herd of wild antelope running alongside you.

The Kentucky state senate approves a three-foot passing bill, including a provision allowing drivers to cross the center line to pass cyclists, even in no passing zones, similar to the one vetoed by Governor Brown a few years ago.

Residents of Hoboken would rather double park than make room for bike lanes.

Jimmy Fallen is one of us, as he cruises sans skid lid through the Hamptons on a $6,000 fat bike.

A Savannah GA writer credits recent bike lanes with the city’s jump in bike commuting rates, but fears they’ve reached peak bike with no more bikeways on the agenda.



Road.cc offers a roundup of a number of new bikes from top makers, including a Look time trial bike that would be perfect for your morning commute.

If you build it, they will come. A Toronto study shows bicycling is up 300% on one street since a separated bike lane was installed; 38% of those riders didn’t use the street before the bike lane was built.

An exceptionally compassionate Canadian family urges the court to sentence a hit-and-run driver to probation instead of jail for the death of a bike rider.

A candidate for mayor of London says bicycling in the city is quite safe, even though he won’t let his own teenage daughters do it.

Social media blows up when an English rail station operator suggests a traveler and his family should just leave their bikes at home.

Britain’s leading bike retailer is accused of sexism for saying a men’s bike is great for riding on pavement or trails, while the women’s version is good for visiting Auntie Doris.

A South African cyclist is visiting all 19 of the country’s national parks, riding over 3,700 miles in 80 days to raise funds for orphaned rhinos. Meanwhile, a Durban DJ learns the hard way not to make fun of fallen cyclists on Facebook.

A 24-year old Chinese man who once walked across the US is planning to bike from San Francisco to China on a pilgrimage to “explore the ecological and spiritual awakening in the 21st century and the cultural landscape and the political economy of the global village, through the lens of China’s interconnectedness with the world.” Oh, well if that’s all.



Bashing people and cars is not the correct use for a cable bike lock; then again, neither is locking your bike with one for more than a few minutes. Seriously, don’t stab someone if you think he stole your bike; at least that’s better than how they treat bike thieves in Bali, though.

And British police appear to be looking for a maniacal bike-borne pedestrian pusher with multiple personalities.


20-year old OC driver faces 10 years for 2014 DUI death of Dana Point cyclist

Ten years.

That’s what a 20-year old driver is facing for the drunken collateral damage death of a cyclist in April of last year.

Thirty-nine-year old Haitham Gamal was riding south on PCH in Dana Point when Dominic Devin Carratt lost control of his car at high speed, drifting 200 feet through a bend in the road before slamming into Gamal’s bike.

Carratt’s car continued to drag him another 500 feet — nearly twice the length of a football field — before hitting a curb and flipping over. Gamal was pronounced dead at the scene, simply because he was in the way.

Carratt and his passenger were taken to a hospital with slight injuries, where he was found to have a blood alcohol level of .15.

Normally, that would be almost twice the legal limit. But as an under-aged driver, the legal limit in this case would be zero.

According to the Orange County District Attorney’s office, Carratt will be arraigned today on felony counts of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence while intoxicated, driving under the influence of alcohol causing bodily injury, and driving with a blood-alcohol level above the legal limit causing bodily injury, along with a sentencing enhancement for causing great bodily injury.

I’d call death great bodily injury, all right.

Unlike the LA County DA’s office, the OC DA tends to take cases like this seriously, and is more than willing to throw the book at killer drivers. And they seldom bargain away a case just to get a conviction.

That may be a product of a lighter case load, or more jail space to house convicted drivers.

Or maybe they just give a damn. And take traffic crime seriously.

Thanks to attorney and cyclist Ed Rubinstein for the heads-up.




Morning Links: LA Weekly supports distracted driving; drunk driver kills bike riding reformed drunk driver

What the hell are they thinking at the LA Weekly?

In a remarkably wrong-headed piece, Weekly writer Hillel Aron writes that he texts while driving and doesn’t see a damn thing wrong with it.

First, effective July 1, 2008, came the bans on talking on your cell phone while driving – an act about as dangerous as drinking a cup of coffee whilst talking to a passenger.

Six months later came the drive-texting bans. Never mind the fact that we’d been changing the music on our iPods for years, and before that we were switching out CDs, and tapes and eight-tracks and lighting our cigarettes and God knows what else.

Now sending a text message, no matter how brief, or how slow the traffic, is a crime.

As well it should be.

Never mind that texting at highway speeds can take your eyes off the road for the length of a football field. Or that studies have shown texting is more dangerous than drunk driving, which Aron evidently would approve of, as well.

And never mind that nearly one in five injury collisions involve distracted driving. Or that even using a hands-free device to make a call dramatically increases the risk of collision; evidently, Aron is a very risky coffee drinker.

But he says he can do it, so it must be okay.

I’m sure his insurance company would disagree. As would his seemingly inevitable future victims.

The remarkable thing is he has confessed, in public and in advance, for any collisions he may be involved in for the rest of his life. Because any prosecutor or civil attorney will jump on this as proof of a cavalier attitude behind the wheel, at best. And search for evidence that he was doing exactly what he claims.

As cyclists, we see the effects of distracted driving on a daily basis.

Virtually every close call I’ve had on the roads in recent years, and most of the vehicular idiocy I’ve witnessed, has come from drivers whose eyes were glued to their cell phones instead of the road. Or at the very least, had a hand-held cell phone illegally plastered to their ears.

It’s bad enough that Aron is a tragedy waiting to happen; worse that he irresponsibly encourages other fools to follow his lead.

Because only a fool, and a dangerous one at that, would fail to grasp the dangers of distracted driving clearly demonstrates.

But worst of all is the irresponsibility of a formerly respected alternative weekly that has long since given up any hint of relevancy putting the lives of innocent people at risk as link bait to boost their sagging fortunes.

I don’t want my life — or that of anyone else — to be in jeopardy because the paper’s editors lack any ethical standards and encourage their readers to drive in a dangerous and distracted manner.

They owe us all a retraction and an apology.

And if you happen to see Hillel Aron on the road, grab his fucking cell phone out of his hands and throw the damn thing as far as you can.

Oh, and as for his assertion that we all text while driving, I have never, ever texted, tweeted or otherwise used a handheld device while driving. And never will.

Perhaps because I’ve written too many times about the needless heartbreak and devastation caused by those who do.


In a case of tragic irony, Haitham Gamal, the 38-year old bike rider killed in Dana Point last week, was a three-time convicted drunk driver who had completed rehab, sold his car and taken up bicycling in an attempt to turn his life around.

Only to be killed by a 19-year old drunk driver.



The LACBC announces their Bike to Work Day pit stops, as well as post B2WD happy hours.

County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky profiles Danny Gamboa and Ghost Bikes LA, noting the group will receive the Golden Spoke award at Tuesday’s Blessing of the Bicycles.

San Marino releases their proposed bikeways map, including a possible Class 1 bike path; thanks to BikeSGV for the heads-up.

The Tour of Long Beach rolls this Sunday to benefit pediatric cancer research at Miller Children’s Hospital Long Beach.



The Orange County Register ranks the county’s eight most dangerous intersections; the killer conjunction of Jamboree Road and Santiago Canyon Road tops the list.

A letter writer says we all can coexist on Newport Beach’s Back Bay Trail.

Not surprisingly, San Diego’s bike share stations are going in the usual tourist areas rather than places with the greatest need.



American bike commuting has increased 60% in the last 14 years; not surprisingly, low-income Americans walk and bike the most.

Bike lawyer Bob Mionske discusses how to fight back with a civil suit against motorists who hit or harass you.

Ms. Magazine looks at how bicycles influenced women’s rights.

Tucson gets its first protected bike lanes.

A New York bike share rack is called a death trap that could block access to an emergency room — even though it’s around the corner and on a different block.

A Florida man is caught on video drinking heavily before he got in his truck and killed a couple on their tandem bike.



Remembering 1970s Irish cycling champ Billy Kerr.

On the eve of the Giro d’Italia, the BBC profiles three-time winner Gino Bartali, who risked his life to save Jews and aid the resistance in WWII. And who should be the first cyclist on a very short list for sainthood.

Interesting Norwegian share the road public service campaign; you don’t have to speak the language to get the idea.

A big-hearted Kiwi cyclist forgives the driver who hit him and asks the court to waive her $11,000 reparation fee.

Bicycle advocacy goes worldwide.



Repeat after me. When you’re carrying drug paraphernalia and an ounce of cocaine on your bike at 1:30 in the morning, put a damn light on it, already. And a new foldable bike helmet allows you to carry it anywhere; personally, I’d rather have a clunky one if it’s built to a better safety standard.


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