Tag Archive for Long Beach

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.

A bloody few days in Long Beach — two cyclists critically injured, one intentionally

This has not been a good few days for Long Beach cyclists.

Two riders are critically injured — one because a driver ran a red light, the other because he was intentionally run down by a driver following a dispute.

In the first case, a 67 year old man, who has not been publicly identified, was riding east on Bixby Road at Cherry Avenue around 11 am Friday when he was hit by a pickup traveling south on Cherry. The Press Telegram reports that the driver of the pickup apparently ran the red light.

The rider was rushed to the hospital, where he remains in critical condition. The 66-year old driver was not charged at the scene; however the investigation continues. Anyone with information is asked to call Long Beach Police Department Accident Investigation’s detectives at 562-570-7355.

In the second, and in some ways, more serious case, the Press Telegram reports that a cyclist is clinging to life at a local hospital after being intentionally hit by a motorist, who then fled the scene.

The incident occurred around 3:20 Tuesday afternoon at the intersection of Bellflower Blvd and 23rd Street, following a dispute between the cyclist and a driver.

According to KCBS-2, there’s no word on what caused the dispute. However, the victim, who again was not publicly identified, was described as a homeless man who was known to be aggressive and violent.

The station says some accounts — they don’t say whether from the driver or independent witnesses — have lead police to believe that the victim may have attacked the driver by reaching into his van.

The Press Telegram writes that witness followed the van for several blocks before flagging down a police officer who detained the driver and eventually arrested him for assault with a deadly weapon.

Remarkably, KCBS disputes that account, not only reporting that the driver turned himself in, but that he may not face charges.

Running an unarmed man over with a van is not self-defense, and even belligerent homeless people have a right to live. Unless the driver can prove he was attacked in an unprovoked assault, then inadvertently struck the victim in an attempt to get away, he should face an assault charge.

Or murder if the rider doesn’t make it.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Long Beach Police Department’s Accident Investigations Detail at 562-570-7357.

Meanwhile, the KCBS story is so different from the Press Telegram article that it raises serious questions, going out of their way to paint the driver as the real victim.

Did they uncover the story that the local paper missed? Or are they letting a bias against the victim — the real victim — color their story?

It will be interesting to see how this story unfolds.

Thanks to Rex Reese for the tip.

Another fatal shooting of a bike rider in Long Beach; should we care?

Does it really matter?

According to the Long Beach Press-Telegram, an unidentified man was shot and killed in Long Beach around 7:30 Saturday night; or rather, the authorities have not publicly released the victim’s ID yet.

Police found the victim on the 1300 block of Atlantic Avenue after responding to reports of shots fired; he was taken to a nearby hospital where he died of his wounds. Witnesses report he’d been riding his bike when he was shot, though police could not confirm that. However, a bike is clearly visible lying in the street in the news photos.

No description was available for the suspect(s), who remain at large. Police do not yet know if the shooting was gang related.

Chances are, though, it was.

Not because of any stereotypes about the location, though Long Beach has long had a gang problem, just like many or most cities in Southern California. But because most street shootings involve gang ties in some way.

Of the six — now seven — fatal shootings of cyclists in SoCal this year, at least four were suspected of being gang-related. One in Silver Lake last April involved an alleged gang member as the shooter, though the victim — and the reason for the shooting — had nothing to do with gangs. And last I heard, another April shooting, this time in San Diego, did not appear to be gang-related.

So what do these deaths have to do with the greater cycling community?

In most, if not all of these cases, the victims were not targeted because they were on a bike; the bike was merely the form of transportation they were using at the time.

That’s the argument several people have used in encouraging me not to give the same coverage to cases like this that I do to other cycling deaths. And why I no longer include shootings in my stats on cycling fatalities, instead separating them into their own category apart from traffic-related deaths.

Still others have questioned whether shooting victims should be honored with a ghost bike. Or if they should be, if not ignored by cyclists, at least not afforded the same concern and respect we show other fallen riders.

And should his death matter any less to us if it does turn out to be gang-related than if he was the victim of a road rage attack, killed precisely because he was on a bike and in the way?

My personal opinion is that all deaths matter, and that as cyclists, we should all be concerned when any one of us falls, for whatever reason.

For at least a moment, at the time of his death, this man was riding a bike. He was, however briefly or for whatever reason, one of us.

And he is now dead, like too many others. Whether they were victims of guns, or cars. Or their own riding errors.

He was one of us, and now he is gone.

So what do you think?

Should we care?

Or simply turn our heads and look the other way?

Update: the victim of the shooting has been identified as 29-year old Reynard Lionell Fulton of Palmdale.

Los Angeles, Orange County named Honorable Mention Bike Friendly Cities(?)

We’ll ignore the fact the Orange County is, well, a county. Not a city.

Or if you prefer, a lot of cities, even if they do tend to blend into one another at times.

But O.C. and L.A. have made the League of American Bicyclists list of Bike Friendly Cities, if only just barely. Both were named Honorable Mention, a step below the Bronze designation, in recognition of the steps each has made.

And just how far they have to go.

Los Angeles makes its claim on the basis of the new-found support from City Hall that has resulted in a widely praised new bike plan — which is just starting to result in new paint on the street — as well as the groundbreaking bicyclists’ anti-harassment ordinance.

But as Bikeside’s recent survey suggests, local cyclists face far too many unfriendly streets and drivers to deserve a higher ranking; I would read this more as recognition of the possibilities, rather than what’s already been accomplished.

Sort of like Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize. And I’ll let you decide how that’s turned out.

If — and it’s a big if — the city manages to stay on course, it may legitimately deserve a bronze designation next year.

Meanwhile, someone else who actually rides there will have to address whether the collection of cities and towns behind the Orange Curtain deserves its designation.

There seems to be an unfortunate tendency to blame rude and scofflaw cyclists for the county’s unacceptably high fatality rate, including a crackdown on the victims — even though the overwhelming majority of Orange County fatalities have been the result of careless, drunk or distracted drivers, rather than lawbreaking riders.

And at least one OC city seem to have an inexplicable fear of sharrows.

But there must be progress being made; Irvine and Huntington Beach have already made the list as Bronze level cities, joining northern neighbors Long Beach and Santa Monica.

And even though SaMo’s designation was widely derided at the time — including by yours truly — they seem to be making every effort to live up to it now.

So maybe there’s real hope for L.A. and O.C., after all.

We’ll just have to wait a few years and see.

Streetsblog benefit in SaMo, Walk It or Lock It in Long Beach, better biking in Beverly Hills & outrage in TN

I’ve got a long list of legal matters to catch up on — including reader insights into last week’s road rage assault in Santa Monica, first reported by Mihai Peteu on Bikeside.

As well as a letter written by the underage, allegedly drunk driver who nearly killed cyclist Adam Rybicki in Torrance earlier this year. And the driver who called police pretending to be a witness to the collision that killed cyclist Hung Do before being arrested for the crime himself.

But in the meantime, as I rush from riding to meetings to work and back again — let alone trying to squeeze in a little sleep into to process — let me offer a reminder about today’s Streetsblog benefit at Santa Monica’s Library Alehouse.

As it turns out, I won’t be able to make it this time. But if you can make it, I strongly recommended heading to 2911 Main Street for some New Belgium beer, raffle, auctions and a cargo bike worth of fun. Along with a lot of good people having a good time for a good cause.

And yes, there will be a bike valet.

……..

Long Beach is kicking off the Walk It or Lock It campaign to remind cyclists that it’s against the law to ride bikes on the sidewalk in the city’s business districts.

Police will be handing out safety cards to instruct riders to either walk their bikes or lock them up in areas including Broadway and Pine Avenue in Downtown Long Beach, Atlantic Avenue in Bixby Knolls, Second Street in Belmont Shore, “Retro Row” on Fourth Street, and Cambodia Town on Anaheim Street.

And if you haven’t already, Long Beach residents are encouraged to take five minutes to complete the city’s 2011 Bike Safety Survey.

……..

Hats off to what — hopefully — will soon be the former Biking Black Hole of Beverly Hills.

Along with a number of other bike advocates and local residents and business people, I attended last night’s meeting of the city’s Ad-Hoc Bike Plan Update Committee.

For a town that currently lacks a single inch of biking infrastructure, the representatives from Beverly Hills were surprisingly committed to changing the situation and getting test projects off the ground — or rather, on the ground — as quickly as possible. And remarkably open to suggestions, including innovative ideas that are just starting to gain acceptance elsewhere.

Make no mistake. They have a very long way to go, and still have to sell the idea of biking infrastructure to a city government and populace likely to cast a wary eye on two-wheeled interlopers in their city.

And the toughest challenge, recreating Santa Monica Boulevard in a format that will be inviting to cyclists — or at least less likely to risk our lives — still awaits discussion down the road.

But they’re off to a good start. And with a far more positive and approachable attitude than many other cities I could name.

If you live or ride through Beverly Hills — or would like to if it was a little safer and more inviting — sign up with LACBC affiliate Better Bike to get involved and stay abreast of the latest happenings.

……..

Finally, allow me a moment of sheer outrage, as a Tennessee woman is threatened with arrest for the crime of allowing her 10-year old daughter to ride her bike to school.

According to Bike Walk Tennessee, Teresa Tyron of Elizabethton thought her daughter had a reasonably safe 7 – 9 minute ride to school in the tiny town near the border with North Carolina.

Evidently, the authorities disagreed.

Teresa Tryon said, “On August 25th my 10 year daughter arrived home via police officer, requested to speak to me on the front porch of my home. The officer informed me that in his ‘judgment’ it was unsafe for my daughter to ride her bike to school.”

She followed up by contacting the mayor and chief of police. But instead of getting the apology any rational person would have expected, she was told that the officer would be contacting Child Protective Services — and that she could be arrested for child neglect if she allowed her daughter to ride to school in the meantime.

So let me get this straight.

A town of just 13,000 people is so dangerous that children can’t safely ride their bikes on the streets.

Of course, they don’t say whether the danger stems from the horrible traffic conditions, which surely must be far worse than those of the Los Angeles area, where children are encouraged to ride to class, though few actually do.

Then again, maybe the town is so overwhelmed with child molesters and other criminal sorts that it is unsafe for anyone to ever be outside of their homes day or night. Let alone a child.

Or maybe city officials have their collective heads so far up their own collective asses that the entire collective city government would have to visit a proctologist just to get their glasses cleaned.

If the problem is the condition of the streets, it’s up to the mayor and other city officials to make them safe — not parents to keep their children off them. If it’s a fear of criminal activity, the police should stop harassing parents and start arresting criminals until families don’t have to be afraid to let their children go out alone for less than 10 minutes on the way to and from school.

But if it’s the latter problem — which I would highly suspect — local residents should seriously consider riding the police chief, mayor and anyone else involved in this idiotic process out of town on a rail.

And replace them with far more rational people who understand that riding a bike to school isn’t a crime, and should in fact be encouraged in this day of rampant childhood obesity. And willing to do their damn jobs to make the streets safe for everyone.

Maybe they could use a little gentle encouragement to see the light.

Updated: Five SoCal cyclists dead in last 5 days; 6th fatality uncomfirmed

It is a sad irony that the same week local cyclists celebrate L.A.’s groundbreaking cyclist anti-harassment ordinance, we’re forced to confront one of the bloodiest weeks in recent memory.

Just this week, bike riders have been killed in Downtown Los Angeles and Big Bear; in addition, a Simi Valley man has been killed while riding in Hawaii, and a Long Beach man died of injuries he received in a collision on July 6th.

That’s in addition to news that a 17-year old cyclist shot and killed on over the weekend while riding his bike.

Five deaths in the last five days, spanning the spectrum of potential hazards facing riders.

……..

Let’s start with the collision that killed a 63-year old man in Downtown Los Angeles on Tuesday evening.

While it was widely reported that this death may have been collateral damage resulting from a road rage incident between two drivers, multiple sources at City Hall have told me that the police are no longer investigating this as a confrontation between the motorists.

According to these sources, the collision occurred as a result of the drivers competing for lane space on the street, resulting in the driver of the Avalanche swinging to the right of the roadway where the victim, who has not yet been publicly identified, was riding.

As a result, the driver who had been taken into custody has been released.

This does not mean that no charges will be filed in the death, though; the investigation is still continuing.

Flying Pigeon offers a photo of the ghost bike that will be installed for the victim, if it hasn’t been already.

……..

Twenty-three-year old Christopher Sop of Big Bear Lake was killed in an apparent solo riding accident on Mill Creek Road, approximately one mile south of Tulip Lane in the unincorporated part of Big Bear.

According to the Rim of the World News, the Big Bear Sheriff’s Department responded to a report of a man down at 6:17 pm on Monday. Officers concluded that Sop had been travelling north on Mill Creek when he lost control of his bike and struck a rock; he was pronounced death at the scene, with time of the accident estimated at around 3:40 pm.

……..

A 67-year old Long Beach man has died of injuries he received when a truck driver allegedly ran a red light on July 6th in the Bixby Knolls area.

According to the Long Beach Press Telegram, Louis Gabor was riding his bike east on Bixby Road when he was struck by a Chevrolet S-10 pickup while crossing Cherry Avenue at around 11 am. After nearly two weeks in critical condition, he died of his injuries on Tuesday.

The driver, who has not been publicly identified, faces possible a possible charge of vehicular manslaughter once the investigation is concluded.

……..

Maui Now reports that 24-year old Anthony Hernandez of Simi Valley was killed while riding in Kona on the Big Island of Hawaii on Thursday, July 16th.

Kona police found Hernandez laying next to his bike after responding to a report of a crash at 1:18 am. He reportedly lost control of his bike and fell, hitting his head on the pavement and suffering critical face and head injuries; he died of his injuries on Sunday the 17th.

The website reports that he wasn’t wearing a helmet; in this case, that information is actually worth mentioning, since this is exactly the sort of slow-speed impact helmets are designed to protect against. It also suggests that police are investigating the possible “influence of intoxicants” in the crash.

However, as in the case of Christopher Sop in Big Bear — and any case in which a rider is found unconscious or dead on the side of the road — the question is why he lost control of his bike.

It’s entirely possible that it was the result of carelessness or intoxication on the part of the rider. But it’s also possible that it could be due to road conditions, or being brushed, buzzed or harassed by a passing vehicle. With no physical evidence, it’s very easy to blame the victim for something that may or may not have been his fault.

……..

Finally, the 17-year old cyclist killed in a shooting in Montecito Heights on Saturday evening has been identified as Jesus Lopez of Los Angeles. The Press-Enterprise reports that no arrests have been made; anyone with information is asked to call Detectives J. Rios or Cary Ricard at (323) 342-8959. During non-business hours or weekends, calls may be directed to 1-877-LAPD-24-7.

……..

These deaths — excluding that of Anthony Hernandez in Hawaii — raise the total of confirmed bicycling fatalities throughout Southern California this year to 47; 5 by gunshots and 42 in solo accidents or collisions with trains or motor vehicles; 20 of those deaths have occurred in L.A. County.

My sincere condolences to the families and loved ones of all the victims.

……..

Update: I had originally included a sixth fatality in this article; as noted on Tuesday, I had received an anonymous tip about a cycling fatality in Santa Maria; when I did a Google search for confirmation last night, I found an article from the Santa Maria Times that seemed to line up with the information I had, including the location.

However, I missed the date on the story. Even though I was searching for stories that had appeared online in just that last 24 hours, what I found was a story about a collision that occurred last November, as David Huntsman was kind enough to point out. As a result, I have removed references to the Santa Maria fatality while I wait for confirmation.

My apologies for the confusion.

Update: I’ve received confirmation that report of the Santa Maria collision was in error, and that no fatality occurred. And yes, that is very good news. 

Another South Bay cyclist killed on Saturday; 5 dead in 4th of July carnage

I don’t even know what to say at this point.

After writing about two bicyclists killed as a result of collisions in South Bay beach cities this past weekend — an El Segundo hit-and-run and a San Pedro collision apparently caused by a careless rider — now comes word that a cyclist was killed in Long Beach on Saturday.

The Long Beach Post reports that the 68-year old cyclist, who has not been publicly identified, was riding east on Pacific Coast Highway near the Terminal Island Freeway when he was hit from behind by a 2011 Honda Accord around 6:48 am.

When police arrived, they found the victim lying in the roadway; paramedics pronounced him dead at the scene. There’s no indication from the report where he was in the roadway or how he had been positioned when he was hit. While I’m not very familiar with this stretch of roadway, reports indicate that it can be a dangerous place to ride.

The driver, identified only as a 46-year old Long Beach woman, was questioned at the scene and released.

The past 4th of July weekend has just been devastating for South Bay cyclists and pedestrians; in addition to the biking fatalities, a pedestrian was killed in a San Pedro hit-and-run, and an 89-year old Redondo Beach woman was killed crossing the street.

This is the the 37th confirmed traffic-related cycling fatality in Southern California, and the 12th in Los Angeles County, since the first of the year. Remarkably, the three deaths this weekend represent over 12% of the county’s annual average for the last five years for which records are available.

There’s something terribly wrong when we celebrate our independence by watching bodies pile up in the street.

I just feel sick right now.

My heart and prayers go out to the victim’s family. Thanks to Allan Alessio for the heads-up.

Yet another bike rider shot and killed; 15-year old SD cyclist critically injured by 84-year old driver

The Daily News reports that a bicyclist was killed in a Long Beach shooting last night.

The shooting occurred prior to 8 pm Tuesday on the 2100 block of East 14th Street; no other details are available at this time.

This is the 5th cyclist fatally shot in Southern California this year, and the 4th in L.A. County.

……..

An anonymous reader forwards news of a tragic collision in San Diego last week, in which a 15 year old boy was critically injured when an 84-year old driver mistakenly stepped on the gas pedal instead of the brakes.

Isaiah Fisher remains in a coma after reconstruction surgery to the entire right side of his face. The van driven by Dean Hedlund reportedly made a wide left turn, went over the curb and hit a light pole before colliding with Fisher.

Just when an elderly driver is no longer able to drive safely is one of the hardest questions any family will face. For older people, driving means represents freedom and an ability to care for themselves, yet it can also pose a significant risk to themselves and everyone else on the road as their ability and judgement decline.

The hard part is that this occurs at a different rate for every individual. Some can no longer drive safely in their 60’s, while others can maintain full control of a motor vehicle decades later.

We took my father-in-law’s keys away after he suffered a severe stroke; even with significant physical impairment, he would have gladly gotten back behind the wheel if he could.

Unfortunately, most people don’t have such a clearly defined indicator that they can no longer drive safely. The warning signs of declining driving ability are usually subtle and slow to develop, often not becoming apparent until it’s too late; Hedlund himself denied that his age was a factor in the collision.

As a society, we haven’t begun to address this problem.

Instead of mandating annual testing after a certain age, we leave it up to often unqualified family members to recognize the problem and take away the keys.

As Isiah Fisher tragically shows, that’s just not good enough.

………

Speaking of drivers who should be on the road, Bikeside’s Alex Thompson offers a full update on the condition of the victims, as well a interviews with witnesses, in the Culver City collision that injured 11 cyclists, 6 seriously enough to require hospitalization.And he forwards a link to some very sick and disturbed people who consider Christine Dahab, the driver who put all those people in the hospital, a hero.

Maybe we should force everyone who posts such vile comments online to visit the victims of their hatred, and see firsthand what drunken and/or distracted carelessness can do.

Maybe then they might rediscover a shred of their own humanity.

Doubtful, though.

Long Beach fire captain John Hines arraigned for drunken hit-and-run

An anonymous reader sent me the following email this morning.

In case it slipped under your radar, yesterday Fire Captain John D. Hines entered a preliminary plea of not guilty to three of his felony charges in the hit-and-run of of Jeffrey Gordon.  A judge then inexplicably denied the prosecutor’s request to increase the bail amount fivefold to $250,000, which incidentally was the amount of the arrest warrant issued on April 26th.  Hines has retained a bulldog of an attorney with a great deal of experience in keeping dangerous drivers on the streets.

Hines’ EMT certificate, #E030577, has not been revoked, and probably is not under review.

The writer goes on to note that Hines is scheduled for a preliminary hearing on June 17th.

And yes, it did slide under my radar, even though I’ve been following this case and scan the news for anything bike-related several times a day. So a big thanks for forwarding this information.

When I went back to look again after receiving the email, I found a number of stories like this one in the Contra Costa Times, each containing the same news release, virtually word for word, about Hines arraignment for running down a cyclist, then hitting the gas and fleeing the scene. And adding little to the story beyond what you see above.

Credit then, to the Los Alamitos-Seal Beach Patch, which took the time to dig a little deeper into the story — including noting, as we speculated, that Hines reportedly had checked himself into rehab following his initial arrest.

No doubt at the suggestion of the afore mentioned bulldog attorney, Vince Tucci, in the hopes of getting leniency from the court.

Hines faces a maximum of six years and eight months if convicted on the felony DUi and hit-and-run charges; two hours after the collision, his blood alcohol level was .24, three times the legal limit of .08.

“Instead of staying to render aid, he left the victim like common road kill in a pool of blood, and fled the scene…it is egregious,” Deputy District Attorney Andrew Katz said last week. “It’s 1 in the afternoon, he’s three times the legal limit. He’s a firefighter, no less, someone whose job it is to aid people in medical distress. It’s not some 18-year-old kid who had too much to drink. He knows better. He should know better.”

He’s released on just $50,000 bail, after the request to increase bail to the same $250,000 amount in the arrest warrant was denied.

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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