Tag Archive for John David Hines

Wrist slap rescinded, as drunken hit-and-run driver John Hines resentenced to 4 years in state prison

So much for that slap on the wrist.

Former fire captain John David Hines, scion of a leading Long Beach fire fighting family, had the book thrown at him by an angry judge, turning a one-year sentence in a relatively plush pay-to-stay cell into over four years of hard time in the state penitentiary.

Hines had been sentenced for the drunken hit-and-run that left cyclist Jeff Gordon lying severely injured on a Seal Beach street, after drinking himself silly at a Long Beach bar last April Fools Day. When police arrested him at his home, drenched in urine soaked pants, Hines had a BAC of .24 — three times the legal limit.

In what many cyclists — or maybe just me — considered an overly lenient sentence, Santa Ana Superior Court judge Erick Larsh sentenced the former fireman to four years and four months in state prison — then suspended the sentence in lieu of one year in the Orange County jail and five years probation.

And rather than force him to consort behind bars with OC’s criminal element, the judge allowed Hines to buy his way into the Huntington Beach jail, where he could serve his time in greater comfort.

All he had to do was stay out of trouble for a few months.

Yet the former EMT-certified fire captain, trained to save the lives of victims just like the one he left lying in the street, couldn’t even manage that.

This past January, jailers noticed him wobbling, and discovered he had extracted alcohol from hand sanitizer by filtering it through salt. Then he drank enough of the resulting extract to result in a blood alcohol level of .22 — almost as high as when he nearly killed Gordon.

And enough to turn that gentle slap on the wrist into a good swift kick into the state pen.

That’s exactly what happened on Friday, as Judge Larsh ruled that Hines had violated his probation, and resentenced him to the full four years and four months of his original sentence, saying “I can’t fix you.

Don’t get me wrong.

I have no sympathy for hit-and-run drivers. And even less for anyone who gets behind the wheel after drinking — let alone nearly taking the life of another human being.

But Hines is clearly a very sick man.

Whether he’ll get the help he needs behind bars is highly questionable. We can only hope he comes out of prison a much healthier man than when he went in.


I’m told that Danae Miller, the DUI/distracted driver convicted of running down world-class triathlete Amine Britel in Newport Beach last year, is settling in nicely at the Chowchilla women’s prison, where she can expect to spend most of the next four years.


On a slightly less serious note, reader Mark Pryor sends a warning that Huntington Beach will host the 2012 Surf City Open later this month, from March 29th through April 1st.

And no, it’s not a bike race. Or even a surfing championship.

It’s a paint ball tournament. Which means that cyclists can expect to be used for target practice.

Consider Mark’s story —

In Spring of 2008 I was shot at close range with a paintball gun on PCH in Seal Beach while heading towards HB. I stayed up and was unaware of what happened, until a relative explained what it was later that day.

I was informed the next day that a major PB Tourney for Pros was underway in HB. I did report the incident to OC Sheriffs, but they were uninterested since I was OK.

My back was beet red from the injury, although nothing appeared to penetrate the skin.

Moral of the story: when the PB Players are in town, cyclists will be considered as easy targets.

Its shameful that the tournaments are allowed when people are victimized this way by participants traveling to and from the events.


Today’s news kept me from updating this week’s events tonight; hopefully I can get to that later this weekend.

But don’t forget Saturday’s Get Sum Dim Sum ride, or the early morning Wolfpack Hustle Marathon Crash race prior to the L.A. Marathon on Sunday; over 1,300 riders have already registered to take part.

Saturday is also St. Patrick’s Day, which means tens of thousands of amateur drunks will be on the roads all day.

So assume every driver you see on the streets has had about three green Guinness too many.

And ride accordingly.

Update: If you’re looking for something dry to do tonight, the Now Pro Women’s Cycling Team unveils their 2012 roster starting at 7pm at Cynergy Cycles, 2300 Santa Monica Blvd in Santa Monica.

Innovative insights to prevent bike theft, DUI hit-and-run fire captain found drunk behind bars

There’s no shortage of advice on how to keep your bike from being stolen.

But it’s rare that someone offers insight that goes much beyond using a U-lock, locking your rear triangle or parking in a public place where your bike can be seen.

That’s why I was surprised when I was forwarded an email written by cyclist and former LAPD officer Craig White.

In it, White was responding to a recent rash of bikes stolen from garages on the Westside and the San Fernando Valley. And offering advice that goes far beyond anything I’ve encountered before.

For instance, he points out that many roll-up garage doors have windows at the top. The middle window can be punched out, providing easy access to the door mechanism and allowing thieves to reach inside and release the door so it can be pulled up. And then they’re free to walk right in — and right out with your bike.

The solution? Simply use a zip tie to secure the door mechanism so it can’t be pulled down and released.

Another prevention tool he suggests is to get an inexpensive hotel door alarm that alerts you if someone tries to enter your room. And hang it on an inconspicuous place on your bike, so it will sound if someone tries to move it, alerting you and possibly scaring the thief away.

It’s a cheap enough solution that I intend to get one and carry it with me for when I have to lock up my bike.

And of course, using a cable lock to secure your bike even when you park it inside.

After all, every extra bit of security helps.

Then there’s the question of how thieves know which bikes to steal, and which homes have bikes worth stealing.

White points the finger at the Garmin on your handlebars. He’s heard reports that thieves can track your GPS signal when they spot you riding and follow that signal to your home. Or hack your Stava or Garmin account to figure out where you live.

Likely? Maybe not.

Possible? Absolutely.

The simple solution is to make sure the info on your accounts is not public.

He also adds a suggestion I’ve made a number of times. Make sure you’ve recorded your serial number in a secure place — and keep a current photo of your bike the way it looks now, especially if you’ve made any changes recently.

And I’d take if a step further by encouraging you to register your bike. Bike Shepherd offers free lifetime registration, with tamperproof ID stickers available at REI for just $15.

Or you could just do what I’ve done for the last few decades, by keeping your bike securely inside your home — not your garage — when you’re not riding. And always keeping it within reach when you are.

Of course, that’s not always practical if you’re using your bike for transportation.

Which is why I now own a U-lock the size of a small SUV.

Thanks to my friends at GEKLaw for the heads-up.


Now this is just sad. If not pathetic.

Not too long ago, we were criticizing the apparent slap on the wrist given former Long Beach fire caption John David Hines.

Now it’s looking like he is a very sick man. And on his way to a long stint in state prison.

As you may recall, Hines was convicted for the drunken hit-and-run that severely injured cyclist Jeffrey Gordon in Seal Beach last April 1st, after spending the entire morning drinking in a Long Beach bar. He was arrested after witnesses followed him to his home, where police found him wearing urine-soaked pants, with a blood alcohol level of .24 — two hours after he left the bar.

Yet despite pleading guilty to driving under the influence, driving with a blood alcohol level in excess of .08, and hit-and-run, as well as sentencing enhancements for having a BAC over .20 and causing great bodily injury, he received just one year in the relatively plush pay-to-stay city jail in Huntington Beach.

A jail that actually lied — repeatedly — about his presence when our anonymous source called to confirm that he was staying there, I might add.

The judge suspended a much tougher sentence of five in state prison on the condition that Hines keep his nose clean.

He didn’t.

Last week, his jailers noticed Hines wobbling. And discovered he had a BAC of .22 — behind bars. And that he got the booze by filtering liquid hand sanitizer through salt to filter out the alcohol.

Now there’s a party trick for you.

And that was after a stint in rehab.

He’s now locked up in county jail, pending a probation hearing scheduled for March 16th.

That anonymous source also reports that Hines EMT certification has been revoked, along with his ambulance driver’s certificate. And his Class C driver’s license has been suspended until at least April.

It’s not often that I pity a drunk driver. Especially not one who sped off and left innocent victim — the kind he devoted his career to saving — bleeding in the street.

But Hines’s clearly has a serious problem.

Yes, he deserves prison. But he also needs help.


Thanks to Jim Lyle for the tip.


What should we think about an unarmed man getting shot by Sheriff’s deputies after getting stopped while riding his bike?

Deputies initially attempted to stop 26-year old Christian Cobian for not having a headlight on his bike late Saturday night. He reported responded by dropping his bike and running, then was shot when he reportedly reached into his waistband, making the pursuing officers think he was reaching for a gun.

Maybe it happened exactly that way.

On the other hand, police often have more important things to do than pull over a cyclist for a simple light violation. Which is not to say they never do, but more likely, it was a pretense to stop someone they thought looked suspicious, just as police may pull over a car with a broken tail light as an excuse to look inside.

Or the way some LAPD divisions reportedly used the now repealed bike licensing law as an excuse to stop — some would say harass — bike riders.

The minor traffic violation gives them probable cause to make a traffic stop.

The question is, why did he run?

Most likely, it was because there was a felony narcotics warrant for his arrest. It’s also possible that he might have been holding, though authorities haven’t mentioned any drugs being found on his body or in the immediate area.

And unless they happened to recognize him — which no one has mentioned up to this point — police had no way of knowing he was wanted. Or that he had a record and was on probation for receiving stolen property.

Then there’s the question of why an officer would shoot simply because a suspect reached towards his waist, without determining what he was reaching for first.

Given the current low hung fashions, it’s entirely possible he was just trying to keep his pants from falling down while he ran.

I’m not one to be overly critical of the decisions police have to make in the heat of the moment. Things happen fast, and officers have to make split second decisions that others have the luxury of endlessly analyzing after the fact.

But this one raises a lot of questions.

One of which is whether this should be included in the list of cycling fatalities. My gut reaction is to say no.

Anyone disagree?

Thanks to Erik for the link to the Weekly article.


A study from the Los Angeles County Department of Health shows it will take $40 billion dollars to make the six county region represented by the Southern California Council of Governments (SCAG) safe for cyclists and pedestrians over the next 25 years. The current budget allocates $6 billion — just 1.1% of the total $524.7 billion budget — for biking and walking projects, despite the fact that non-motorized transportation makes up 21% of all trips and 25% of the fatalities in the region.

Meanwhile, the Alliance for Biking and Walking has released their new study Bicycling and Walking in the United States: 2012 Benchmarking Report. Despite a long-held myth that no one walks in L.A., Los Angeles ranks 20th on list of biking and walking cities, and 26th for bike/ped fatalities; California as a whole ranks 19th and 32nd, respectively.

L.A. County takes a tentative first step in fighting the unacceptably high rate of obesity by requiring wider sidewalks and bike parking, while studying other ways to make the county more friendly for the non-motorized.

And Dave Moulton points out the relationship between food diets and road diets.


A couple other quick notes —

Steve Herbert reminds us that new LACBC board member Herbie Huff is a Hollywood star, or Westwood, anyway. Roadblock rides in the King Day parade. Great photos from the recent cyclocross state championships. Maybe women are the real riding experts. Our friend Zeke sends word that Western North Carolina bicyclists are on their way to a new regional bike plan — even if they are dramatically underfunded, like cyclists everywhere. May 9th will mark the first ever National Bike to School Day.

And finally, a Turlock man celebrates his 8oth birthday by riding 103.5 miles.

Seriously, I want to be just like him when I grow up.

Drunken Long Beach fire captain suffers a severe slap on the wrist

Is a single year in county lockup sufficient penalty for nearly killing a cyclist with a blood alcohol content three times the legal limit?

An Orange County judge seems to think so.

Yesterday, Santa Ana Superior Court judge Erick Larsh sentenced Long Beach fire captain John David Hines to four years and four months in state prison — then suspended the sentence in lieu of one year in the Orange County jail and five years probation.

Reports could not be confirmed that Hines responded by grabbing his wrist and yelling “Ow!”

And yes, that’s slightly bridled sarcasm, as I find myself censoring what I’d really like to say.

It was almost three months ago that Hines pleaded guilty to three felony counts — driving under the influence, driving with a blood alcohol level in excess of .08, and hit-and-run, as well as sentencing enhancements for having a BAC over .20 and causing great bodily injury.

Those charges stemmed from a bloody, drunken and reportedly urine-soaked April Fools Day episode that left cyclist Jeffrey Gordon struggling for his life.

And no, it wasn’t the least bit funny.

The scion of a leading Long Beach firefighting family, Hines spent the morning drinking at the Schooner or Later bar in Long Beach before climbing behind the wheel of his truck and attempting to drive home, despite a BAC measured at .24 over two hours later.

The legal limit in California is .08.

The bar should bear at least some responsibility for allowing Hines to get that drunk at their hands. Let alone letting him drive after serving him so much alcohol knowing full well how drunk he had to be at that point.

I hope Gordon has a great lawyer; if not, I’ll be happy to recommend a few. If there’s any justice, he’ll own the bar before this is done.

And hopefully, the first thing he’ll do is change that damn name.

As he reportedly wove his way across the roadway on Westminster Blvd, Hines lost control of his truck, drifting into the bike lane to hit Gordon’s bike from behind at an estimated 60 mph. The rider was thrown 70 feet through the air before landing in a crumpled, bloody heap.

His injuries were severe enough to require two weeks hospitalization, as well as limited mobility, and speech and memory loss that continues to this day. Then again, given the speed and severity of the impact, it’s a miracle Gordon survived at all.

Meanwhile, Hines continued to make his merry way to his Huntington Beach home, either unaware or unconcerned that he had nearly killed another human being. He was followed by two witnesses who reported his location to the police.

According to the Belmont Shore – Naples Patch, Billy Chisholm was a passenger in one of those pursuing vehicles.

“I was sick to my stomach the whole time,” Chisholm recalled. “He just hit him and left him to die like he was a skunk in the road. He had to have known he hit him because his truck was all busted up. That was a human being he left there to die. It’s not right.”

When police arrived, they found Hines in an obvious state of drunkenness, with a strong urine odor coming from his clothes. His parked pickup showed major damage to the front-end and hood — including blood spatter from the victim.

As so many scoundrels do these days, he immediately entered rehab after his release from jail, spending over five months in an alcohol rehabilitation facility.

Like Schrodinger’s Cat, whether that was a badly needed attempt to gain control over his apparent alcoholism or a blatant attempt at gaining leniency from the court depends on your perspective.

He also served a 90-day diagnostic evaluation — make that 86 days — in state prison to determine whether he is suitable to serve a sentence in the state penitentiary.

Maybe I’m just not up on current sentencing practices. But I doubt many gangbangers or bank robbers enjoy such sensitivity from the judge after pleading guilty.

Then again, not many felons come from such prominent fire fighting families.

And last but not least, Hines was ordered to pay $102,000 in restitution — most of which has already been eaten up in medical costs.

According to the Los Alamitos Patch, Gordon prepared a written victim impact statement to be considered at sentencing.

“I am a very active person who enjoys being outdoors with my family. I also have a very mentally and physically demanding job that I love. All of that was taken from me in just seconds.

“As a result of the impact, I was seriously injured, receiving an 18-centimeter head laceration, cranial bleeding, three broken vertebrae, a bruised kidney and multiple cuts, scrapes, and contusions over a large area of my body. Medical expenses are piling up from the long hospital stay and treatment from so many specialists… so far reaching nearly $65,000. The doctors are not yet sure when or if I will recover enough to return to full duty at work or to the quality of life that I had before.

“I have found myself becoming more and more upset by the possibility that the negligence of another person may have lasting effects on me, but the person who is responsible may suffer little or no consequences for his actions.”

An anonymous source who was in the courtroom for part of the sentencing hearing offers this assessment of Hines professional position, who has been severely criticized by many — including me — for causing exactly the sort of injuries he was trained to treat.

I wish to point out that although Hines undoubtedly responded as part of a pre-hospital care team to the type of vehicular crime he committed, he was not the one who would have been providing hands-on care to patients.  As a captain, he directed others on the response team.  In fact, Hines is not a paramedic; he holds only an EMT certificate (pending review), and this is probably the bare minimum medical education requirement for a person of his position within his agency.  At EMT level, he cannot even administer painkillers.  With his certification, he would not likely be the one in the back of an ambulance with a puking head trauma victim like the one he created last April, because injuries of that magnitude require paramedic-level response.  He could monitor vitals and provide oxygen in such situations, and that’s about it.

My opinion is that his interest in public safety is less about his interest, if any, in humanity than in the salary & inherent reputation of a firefighter, and the protection that such a reputation affords him as an alcoholic.  But this is just an opinion.

Meanwhile, the OC Weekly offers a scathing report on the lenient sentence.

As they suggest, current jail overcrowding problems make it highly unlikely Hines will serve the full year, joining local public enemy #1 Lindsey Lohan in the revolving door of SoCal jurisprudence.

And I’m sure her wrist is just as sore.

On the other hand, Hines acted as self-appointed judge and jury in sentencing the victim to a possible life sentence of disability.

As disgusted as I am by the apparent leniency, I honestly don’t know if a long prison sentence is the right answer in this particular case.

Alcoholism is an illness, and punishment in prison will do little or nothing to reform a dangerous drunk and return him to a productive member of society.

But I do know that until judges start taking cases like this seriously — and impose sentences that will serve as a warning and deterrence to other drivers — we’ll continue to experience the ongoing carnage on our streets.

And not everyone will be as lucky as Gordon.

Legal update: DUI driver arraigned for injuring Adam Rybicki, Valencia sentencing today

These days, it seems like there are as many court cases involving cyclists than there are riders on the streets.

Fortunately, cyclist/attorney Dj Wheels has done his usual great job of keeping us up to date with the latest legal proceedings — including charges against the under-aged, allegedly intoxicated driver who ran down who hit Adam Rybicki head on, and Thursday’s sentencing for Marco Antonio Valencia, convicted in the hit-and-run DUI death of Joseph Novotny.

Editor’s Note: While Dj Wheels provided updates on these cases, any commentary or information beyond the actual status of the cases are mine. So blame me, not him.

Jaclyn Andrea Garcia:  Charges were filed May 19th at the Torrance Courthouse for the DUI collision that critically injured cyclist Adam Rybicki this past April. The Supervising Judge recused all the judges there from hearing the case, with no public explanation for his actions; however, rumor has it that Garcia’s mother is a court reporter in Torrance, which would explain the recusal.

As a result, arraignment was held Tuesday in Department 5 of the Inglewood Courthouse, Case #YA081126. Garcia’s attorney, George Bird, entered a plea of not guilty to all four counts:

1) CVC 23153(a) – DUI w/ injury
2) CVC 23153(b) – DUI w/ BAC over .08 and injury
3) CVC 23153(a) – DUI w/ injury
4) CVC 23153(b) – DUI w/ BAC over .08 and injury

Bird also informed the court on the record that his client has voluntarily surrendered her driver’s license, entered into a three-month alcohol program, voluntarily attended 18 Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, and has begun electronic alcohol monitoring with the SCRAM device made famous by Hollywood’s favorite outlaw.

Too bad it’s just a little too late.

Had Garcia sobered up a few months earlier, Adam Rybicki might not be in a coma right now, the victim of a 20-year old woman still drunk and behind the wheel at 7:15 in the morning.

And you can bet that none of the actions Garcia took in surrendering her license or entering rehab were her idea; it was no doubt ordered by her attorney in an attempt to show remorse and get his client released with nothing more than a slap on the wrist.

After all, it’s worked for any number of Hollywood celebrities, whose first stop after hitting the tabloids is usually a stint in luxury rehab.

And by all accounts, Garcia’s high-priced attorney knows what he’s doing. Maybe if Dr. Thompson’s attorney had ordered him straight into rehab, he might be a free man today.

Let’s hope that the court takes this case seriously, and doesn’t let yet another driver buy her way out of taking responsibility.

Speaking of the infamous Good Doctor:

Dr. Christopher Thompson:  The date for oral arguments has been continued upon the court’s own motion in the appeal of Dr. Thompson’s conviction for intentionally injuring two cyclists in Mandeville Canyon by slamming on his brakes in front of them.  The new date is now 6/29/11.

Marco Antonio ValenciaValenica was convicted last month in the hit-and run DUI death of cyclist Joseph Novotny. The sentencing hearing is scheduled for today (Thursday) at the San Fernando Court; he faces up to 24 year to life in prison.

Shawn Fields:  Fields is charged with the hit-and-run DUI death of 17-year old cyclist Danny Marin in Pacoima last October. Fields reportedly told investigators that he thought he might have hit something, because he remembered seeing sparkly dust flying over him — from the windshield shattered by Marin’s body. Pretrial/Trial Setting Conference is scheduled for 6/22.

Patrick Roraff & Brett Morin:  Roraff and Morin are charged with causing the death of rising pro cyclist Jorge Alvarado in April of last year. The two were allegedly street racing when Roraff lost control and slammed into Alvarado, who was riding on the opposite shoulder. Pretrial conference is scheduled for 7/7.

Stephanie Drew Segal:  Segal is charged with the hit-and-run DUI death of cyclist James Laing in Agoura last year (notice a theme here?). She allegedly plowed into Laing after leaving a local wine tasting room, and entered into a rehab facility after her arrest. Preliminary setting is scheduled for 6/28; Wheels notes that the docket says the DA has been ordered to have victims present, which is unusual for this type of hearing.

Renato Demartino:  Demartino is charged with the hit-and-run death of 22-year old cyclist Marco Acuapan, who died in April, four months after he was allegedly hit by Demartino’s car while riding in a bike lane in Tustin. A pretrial conference scheduled for 6/1.

Danae Marie Miller:  Miller is charged with the death of world-class triathlete Amine Britel; she was allegedly drunk and texting when she rear-ended Britel, who was riding in a marked bike lane. Pretrial conference scheduled for 7/15.

Captain John David Hines:  Hines, a Long Beach Fire Captain, is accused of plowing into cyclist Jeffrey Gordon, then fleeing the scene, despite legal, and professional, obligations to stop and render aid. He had allegedly been drinking for hours in a local bar before getting behind the wheel, and had a BAC of .24 at the time of his arrest — three times the legal limit. And once again, he reportedly checked into rehab right after his arrest. Pretrial conference scheduled for 6/17.

Satnam Singh:  Singh is charged with killing 20-year old college student Nick Haverland in yet another hit-and-run DUI — this time, in a hit-and-run rampage involving three separate collisions in a matter of minutes that left five people injured and Haverland dead. Pretrial conference scheduled for 6/14; Singh remains in custody with the Ventura County Sheriff.

Arrest warrant issued for Long Beach fire captain in drunken hit-and-run

Around 1 pm on April first, 47-year old Jeffrey Gordon was riding his bike on Westminster Blvd east of Bolsa Chica Street in Long Beach.

A moment later, he was sailing 70 feet through the air after being hit from behind by a Chevrolet pickup truck driven by Long Beach fire captain John David Hines.

Rather than stop and render aid as he is trained to do, Hines fled the scene as witnesses chased after him begging him to stop. They followed him to his home in Huntington Beach where he was arrested by the police, who allege that he looked drunk and had a strong odor of urine on his clothes.

The Belmont Shore – Naples Patch reports that Billy Chisholm was a passenger in one of those pursuing vehicles.

“I was sick to my stomach the whole time,” Chisholm recalled. “He just hit him and left him to die like he was a skunk in the road. He had to have known he hit him because his truck was all busted up. That was a human being he left there to die. It’s not right.”

Then again, maybe its a good thing he didn’t try to save Gordon’s life; with a blood alcohol level of .24 percent — virtually the same level as Marco Antonio Valencia showed when he killed Joe Novotny — he probably would have done far more harm than good.

And he’d already done more than enough harm behind the wheel.

Hines reportedly spent the morning drinking at the Schooner or Later bar in Long Beach before driving down to Seal Beach. That’s where he allegedly drifted into the bike lane and struck Gordon’s bike from behind, then sped off without ever hitting his brakes or slowing down.

Not surprisingly, an arrest warrant was issued for Hines on Wednesday.

According to the Huntington Beach Independent:

John David Hines, 38, is charged with one felony count each of driving under the influence of alcohol causing bodily injury, driving with a blood alcohol level of .08% or more causing injury and hit-and-run with injury, according to a release from the district attorney. He also faces sentencing enhancements for causing great bodily injury and having a blood alcohol level over .20%.

Fortunately, Gordon survived the collision, despite spending two weeks in the hospital with severe injuries ranging from head trauma, severe lacerations and bruising to his head and body, to internal injuries and spinal and vertebrae injuries. However, he reportedly continues to suffer limited mobility, and speech and memory loss.

Hines faces up to six years and eight months in prison if convicted. According to the Times, he is still being sought by police on $250,000 bail; it’s possible that he may have entered rehab in an attempt to get leniency from the court.

The only real difference between this case and that of Valenica — who faces 24 years to life in prison after being convicted of 2nd degree murder and felony hit-and-run while intoxicated on Wednesday —  is that Hines’ victim survived, while Valencia’s didn’t.

Thanks to master wrench Chris K for the heads-up.

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