Tag Archive for Newport Beach

Update: Bike rider killed in Newport Beach; DUI driver faces murder charge

For once, the charges fit the crime.

Last night, we linked to news that an Orange County bike rider had been hit by a vehicle Sunday evening. Sadly, the Newport Beach police announced this morning that the victim died later that night.

According to the police report, 30-year old Fountain Valley resident Shaun Eagleson was riding west on East Coast Highway just east of the Los Trancos entrance to Crystal Cove State Park when he was rear-ended by a pickup truck around 5:03 pm.

He was taken to a local trauma center for treatment, where he succumbed to his injuries at around 9:45 Sunday night.

The driver, identified as 23-year old Neil Storm Stephany of Huntington Beach, fled the scene, but was arrested shortly afterwards near the intersection of Newport Center Drive and East Coast Highway. He was taken into custody on charges of including Felony DUI (causing Great Bodily Injury), Hit and Run, Narcotics Possession and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia; bail was initially set at $100,000.

The charges were later amended to include one count of murder, based on Stephany’s previous DUI conviction. According to the press release,

Further investigation revealed that Mr. Stephany has a prior conviction for Driving Under the Influence.  In California, a previous DUI conviction, and the subsequent required alcohol education, is considered an adequate indicator to suggest “implied malice” in subsequent DUI arrests involving the death of another party.  That fact, combined with Mr. Eagelson’s passing, lead Newport Beach Police to change Mr. Stephany’s booking charges to include 187 PC – Murder.  Mr. Stephany is currently being held without bail.

 

Yes, they even revoked his bail.

And they added one more thought that can’t be repeated enough.

Driving Under the Influence is a serious crime, with the potential for tragic and fatal consequences.  It is also completely preventable. The Newport Beach Police Department urges all members of the Community to make responsible decisions and to avoid getting behind the wheel of a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, narcotics, or prescription medications.

Newport Beach police are still investigating the case; anyone with information is urged to contact Investigator Eric Little at 949-644-3746 or elittle@nbpd.org.

Nice to find a police department and prosecutors that take traffic crimes seriously for a change. Let’s hope they don’t plead this one away.

This is the 73rd bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the 15th in Orange County; that compares to 12 in the county for all of last year. And it’s at least the eighth fatal bike collision in Newport Beach in just the last five years.

Update: The Orange County Register reports Stephany has an extensive criminal record, with prior convictions for felony assault, possession of a controlled substance and possession with intent to sell, in addition to the prior DUI.

He is also currently facing a charge for domestic violence.

With a background like that, it’s possible that a murder conviction in this case could be his third strike, resulting in life in prison.

Update 2: A fund has been established to help pay funeral costs; in just one day, it’s already raised over half of the $15,000; thanks to Olivia Eagleson and Chris Nguyen for the link. 

Meanwhile, Corona del Mar Today reports that Neil Stephany was formally charged with murder, as well as felony counts of hit and run causing permanent injury or death, and possession of a controlled substance, identified as SUBOXONE sublingual films.

Chris Nguyen also says in his comment that Shaun Eagleson was an avid reader of this site, which makes this one even more personal and heartbreaking for me.

Update 3: The following comment appeared on the original story about the collision on the Corona del Mar website; if true, it raises a lot of very uncomfortable questions. Thanks to Jeffrey Fylling for the tip. 

I think this accident could be prevented and this was the fault of Laguna Beach Police and paramedic. I was following the driver who hit the bicyclist and killed him, from Laguna Canyon in Laguna Beach and I noticed that he drives out of control. Immediately I contacted 911 and gave his license plate number, but 911 kept me waiting for 6 minutes and asking not important questions and finally they told me since you reached the Newport Beach we have to transfer to Newport Beach department. Instead of wasting time they could send immediately someone to catch this guy before he kills someone. But they didn’t and I saw that the driver hit the poor bicyclist. I pull over and contacted for paramedic it took for them about 10 to 15 minutes to show up and they were not at rush at all. I told them to hurry up the bicyclist is bleeding from head. And I don’t know with having so many closer trauma center why they took him to Mission Viejo Hospital which end up that young man dye at age of 30? big question for me….. who is really responsible for his death Laguna Beach Police, Paramedic or both?

Update 4: Sandra Eagleson, the wife of the victim, describes just how much she has lost as she becomes a widow at just 31 years old. Meanwhile, the OC Weekly details Stephany’s priors; I’m told by someone with knowledge of the case that he has “fuck the police” tattooed on his forehead, along with a swastika on the back of his head.

My deepest sympathy and prayers for Shaun Eagleson and all his loved ones.

Thanks to Frank Peters, Patrick Pascal, Lois and Jeffrey Fylling for the heads-up.

 

Breaking News: No justice for OC cyclist Kenneth Prevatte; civil suit filed in Debra Deem case

Once again, there’s no justice for a fallen rider.

Late Tuesday, I received an email from the sister of Kenneth Prevatte, killed in a rear-end collision while riding in a Sunset Beach bike lane on PCH in Huntington Beach over two years ago. She informed me that Becki Lee James, the driver charged in the death of the popular Long Beach cyclist, was acquitted in a trial this week.

She reports James had been charged with vehicular manslaughter; she had originally been arrested on suspicion of felony DUI causing great bodily injury & gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated.

No word yet on why the alcohol charges had been dropped or why she was acquitted in what seemed like a clear cut case; hopefully we’ll have more information soon.

But at least the Orange County District Attorney should be congratulated for filing charges in a case with no guarantee of victory — unlike the LA DA.

And hopefully, Prevatte’s family will get the justice they deserve in civil court.

In an aside to the case, one of the potential jurors dismissed from the jury pool in the James trial was the brother of teenage cyclist Sean Severson, killed while biking to school in Fountain Valley.

Pity that those who would make the best jurors in cases like this are the ones who are automatically excluded.

……..

Speaking of civil court, I received a press release from Torrance-based law firm AgnewBrusavich, the firm behind the CalBikeLAw.com website, announcing they had filed a civil suit in the death of cyclist Debra Deem.

Deem, the wife of former Olympian cyclist and Cycle Werks bike shops owner Paul Deem, was riding in the bike lane on PCH in Newport Beach when she was right hooked by a driver turning onto Newport Coast Drive.

The suit alleges that the State of California and the City of Newport Beach were both negligent in the design and maintenance of what has been described as a very confusing intersection by cyclists who ride there. Unlike other intersections in the area, the bike lane reportedly disappears prior to the highway-style interchange, leaving riders with no clear pathway to the other side, and no guide for drivers on where bikes are likely to be positioned.

According to the release, Paul Deem filed the suit, at least in part, in hopes that it will bring much needed safety improvements to this section of PCH.

Meanwhile, I’m told that the case against the driver, 84-year old Robert James Anderson, ended in a mistrial on Friday; no word yet on why or if the case will be refiled.

 

Morning Links: A nearly forgotten Ride of Silence, and a deadly OC intersection nearly claims another victim

main_02How could I have forgotten the Ride of Silence?

With everything going on in the bike world and my own life, the annual worldwide memorial to fallen riders completely slipped my mind this year.

It takes place at 7 pm tomorrow at a number of locations throughout Southern California, including Fullerton, Gardena, Irvine, three separate rides in Long Beach, Oxnard, Pasadena, San Clemente, Temecula, Thousand Oaks and Ventura.

Unfortunately, once again, there’s no ride in Los Angeles.

There may be other SoCal Rides of Silence planned that aren’t on the website; if you know of any not listed above, let me know.

Thanks to David for the reminder.

Update: A comment below from riffic points out that there is a Los Angles Ride of Silence after all, thanks to the Midnight Ridazz group Knight Riders. 

……..

A deadly Newport Beach intersection nearly claims another victim, as an allegedly drunken hit-and-run driver is later taken into custody.

According to Corona del Mar Today, the collision occurred at East Coast Highway and Newport Coast Drive, the same intersection where cyclist Debra Deem was killed by an 84-year old driver last August. Fortunately, the victim in this case suffered only minor injuries.

The cyclist and the driver were both headed west on East Coast Highway at 3:12 pm when the driver — who wasn’t publicly identified — hit the rider, then fled on Newport Coast. A witness followed the car, and the 23-year old suspect was taken into custody two miles away and an hour and 14 minutes later.

He faces possible charges of making an unsafe lane change, DUI causing bodily injury and hit-and-run with bodily injury, and is being held on $100,000 bond. No word on why it took so long after the collision to make the arrest.

Bike Newport Beach places at least part of the blame on surface streets designed like freeway interchanges.

Thanks to Amy Senk for the link.

……..

A salmon cyclist is in critical condition after getting hit by a driver who apparently turned into him on Hollywood Way in Burbank Sunday night. Fortunately, the victim is expected to survive, despite suffering significant head trauma.

The driver was arrested for possession of cocaine, though he was not suspected of being under the influence at the time of the collision.

The closest I’ve ever come to hitting a bike rider while driving was when I turned a blind corner and unexpectedly found a ninja salmon rider just feet from my front bumper.

There may be all kinds of reasons why it may seem to make sense to ride against traffic, but it is seldom a good idea.

If ever.

……..

Local

Evidently, if you support road diets, you are an extremist elitist giving the middle finger to motorists and ignoring the overwhelming will of the majority. Uh, right. Nothing like demonizing anyone who might possible disagree with you before they ever get the chance.

Great photos from the March Pasadena Art Night Ride from Milestone Rides.

San Marino’s draft bike and pedestrian plan got its first public hearing on Monday; word is there were a lot of angry and elitist NIMBYs in attendance.

Celebrate Bike Month with a rare weekend bike train examining the history of the Rio Hondo and San Gabriel River Trails this Sunday.

 

State

A new bill by Assembly Member Steve Bradford will prevent misdemeanor hit-and-run charges from being dismissed if the victim reaches a civil settlement with the driver before the case gets to court. The law, passed by the state Assembly, would ensure drivers face justice but could remove a powerful incentive to reach a civil settlement with the victim.

The Cycling Savvy training course is coming to Orange County for the first time; thanks to Serge Issakov for the heads-up.

 

National

A subtle new bike storage solution is currently raising funds on Kickstarter. I could use a handful of those suckers myself.

The eight most common beginner bicycling mistakes. Actually, signaling for a stop is a pretty big one, too, if it means taking your hand off the brake.

The driver who plowed into a crowd at Austin’s South by Southwest festival, killing two people — including a bike rider from the Netherlands — has been indicted on capital murder charges.

Not exactly the frat boy image you might have, as Western Kentucky fraternity brothers are riding across the country to raise funds for Alzheimer’s research.

A careful and courteous driver confuses a Boston bike rider.

New Yorkers fight to lower the basic speed limit on city streets to 20 mph.

A Virginia psychopath deliberately forces a rider off the road at 30 mph; only the skill of the cyclist prevented serious injury.

A Florida driver gets 11 years for an allegedly drunken hit-and-run that took the life of two bike riders; as often happens when drivers flee the scene, prosecutors were forced to drop DUI charges since they couldn’t prove how drunk he was at the time of the collision.

 

International

The recent CycloFemme ride held in DTLA on Mother’s Day was just one of 303 rides around the world.

A British cyclist makes the news by riding in the only lane available to him.

Britain’s top cyclists explain why they want local authorities to do more to prioritize bicycling. Speaking of top Brit riders, evidently Bradley Wiggins’ son doesn’t like podium girls anymore than I do.

A new warning system promises to alert motorists to the presence of bike riders. As long as the driver has the $672 dollar monitor installed, and every bike rider on the road has a compatible tag on his or her bike. Otherwise, you’re on your own.

 

Finally…

Just as you suspected, your bike gets sad when you leave it at home. The war on cars enters a new phase as a chainmail-clad man attacks a woman’s BMW with a sword. And a three-year old leads the Giro d’Italia, however briefly.

 

Update: Driver faces charge for August death of Debra Deem in Newport Beach

Maybe there will be justice for Debra Deem after all.

According to CdM Today, a misdemeanor charge of vehicular manslaughter without gross negligence has been filed against 84-year old Irvine resident Robert James Anderson, the driver who took her life in a Newport Beach collision last August.

The site reports the case was filed last Friday, and he’s expected to be arraigned on February 3rd.

Deem was riding west on East Coast Highway just east of Newport Coast Drive at 4:28 pm on August 28th when she was struck by a white minivan driven by Anderson.

The van as traveling in the same direction as Deem; however, it’s not clear if her bike was struck from behind or if he turned into her. Police merely say Anderson made an unsafe lane change that resulted in the collision.

Several people who ride through the area suggest that the design of the intersection, with a dangerous transition from the shoulder bike lane through the freeway-style interchange, may have contributed to the collision.

Deem was the wife of local cycling legend Paul Deem, a former Olympic cyclist and the owner of the Cycle Werx bike shops in Costa Mesa and San Clemente.

According to the Daily Pilot, the charge carries a maximum sentence of one year in county jail.

To be honest, though, as much as I believe in justice for all cyclists, I’m not sure what good there is in sending an 84-year old man to jail. The real benefit may simply be getting a driver who may be too old to drive safely off the roads.

Then again, that probably should have been done long before the collision that took Debra Deem’s life.

Thanks to Amy Senk and Jeffrey for the heads-up.

Update: More information from the Orange County Register; for a change, the story isn’t locked up behind their paywall. 

The paper reports neither speed or alcohol appeared to be a factor in the collision. In an interview, Anderson says he has only received on traffic citation in his life, oddly, for another improper lane change in 1966.

According to his lawyer, witnesses to the collision said Deem left the bike lane when she was cut off by another driver, placing her bike in the path of Anderson’s van. The lawyer says he never saw her. Or rather, never had a chance to see her.

Reading between the lines, it sounds like prosecutors will argue that if Anderson hadn’t made the illegal lane change, Deem’s bike wouldn’t have been in front of him. Or at the very least, he would have had a chance to see her and react.

Then again, her bike should have been clearly visible in the bike lane before any of this unfolded.

And the tragedy is compounded by the heartbreaking effect it’s had on her husband.

“My initial thought was ‘accidents happen,’ “ he said. “People get in a hurry. I’ve been in a hurry. Fortunately I’ve never killed anybody.”

But he keeps thinking about the unfairness of the situation. He lost his wife and later, he said, his house.

“I’m not quite sure what Mr. Anderson’s losing in this thing,” Deem said. “He doesn’t lose his house. If I sue him for wrongful death, he files for bankruptcy and keeps his house and life goes on. I’ve lost my life. … From a justice standpoint, I’ve lost everything.”

Update: Cyclist killed in Newport Beach collision; 7th cycling death in city since 2010

It’s happened again.

For the second time this year, and the 7th in the last four years, a bike rider has been killed in Newport Beach.

Unfortunately, details are still extremely limited.

However, Corona del Mar Today and Newport Beach Patch both report that the victim, identified publicly only as a man in his 30s, was hit by a passenger vehicle at the intersection of San Joaquin Hills Road and Marguerite Ave at 7:42 Wednesday night. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

No word on which street the victim or the car that hit him were traveling on, or how the collision occurred.

The rider died just half a mile away, and on the same street, from where triathlete Amine Britel was killed by Danae Miller while riding his bike in 2011.

This is the 76th bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the 10th in Orange County. It also matches the total of two cycling deaths in Newport Beach in 2010 and 2012.

Far too many for a city of just 87,000.

My deepest prayers and sympathy for the victim and his loved ones. 

Thanks to Lois for the heads-up.

Update: The victim has been identified as 41-year old Paul Lin of Irvine. 

According to the Daily Pilot, Lin was turning left from northbound Marguerite onto San Joaquin when he was hit by a car traveling west on San Joaquin. 

Unconfirmed reports indicate Lin was riding with a group when he was killed. A comment from Leo90604 cites one of the other cyclists on the ride as blaming a short light cycle, as well as a driver that may or may not have slowed for the light.

I was able to get a hold of one of the people who was on this ride. The cyclist was turning left and from one of the riders, it is a fast changing light from yellow to red ( I have experienced protected left turn lanes change from green to yellow within 5 seconds)  He checked his left and did not see any oncoming car and he was hit from the right side as the light changed to green. If the cartruck was at a stop he would’ve seen the cyclist turning.

Meanwhile, the always excellent Corona del Mar Today is on top of the back story, detailing the too many bicycling fatalities that have occurred in the city since 2009.

Anyone with information is urged to contact Investigator Scott Grecco at (949) 644-3747 orsgrecco@nbpd.org.

Update 2: According to a comment by Elvis — and apparently confirmed in part by KCBS-2 — Lin was part of a Meetup group ride that had ridden to watch the sunset before returning via Marguerite and San Joaquin

Breaking news — Newport Beach bicyclist dies of injuries from Tuesday collision

I’ve just received confirmation that a bike rider critically injured in a Newport Beach collision has died of her injuries.

Debra H. Deem was riding west on East Coast Highway just east of Newport Coast Drive at 4:28 pm when she was struck by a white minivan traveling in the same direction. The 58-year old Laguna Beach resident suffered major head trauma despite wearing a helmet, suggesting that the impact may have occurred at relatively high speed.

She was transported to the trauma center at Mission Hospital, where she was disconnected from life support earlier today. A statement issued by the Newport Beach Police Department late this afternoon confirmed earlier reports of her death.

A cyclist who lives in the area describes the intersection as very dangerous, with inadequate transitions from the shoulder bike lane through the freeway-style interchange.

The victim is the wife of local cycling legend Paul Deem, a former Olympic cyclist and the owner of the Cycle Werx bike shops in Costa Mesa and San Clemente. Local attorney and former bike racer David Huntsman says Deem helped inspire his own racing career, and says Debra Deem’s death will devastate the Orange County cycling community “like a death in the family.”

Deems’ fatality comes just less than a year after that of Sarah Leaf on East Coast Highway and Dr. Catherine Campion Ritz on Newport Coast Drive; the twin deaths resulted in an outpouring of grief and a commitment to improve safety in the city.

This collision was just one of two separate Orange County wrecks that left bike riders critically injured yesterday afternoon. Another cyclist was struck while riding on Rancho Santa Margarita Parkway, resulting in what was described as severe injuries; no word yet on that rider’s condition.

The Newport Beach Bicycle Master Plan Oversight Committee meets on September 3rd; Deems’ death will undoubtedly bring a number of riders out to discuss her death and demand safer streets.

This is the 62nd cycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the eighth in Orange County; that compares with seven in the county this time last year. As noted, it’s also the third bicycling death in Newport Beach in the last 12 months, and at least the sixth since 2010.

My deepest sympathy and prayers for Debra Deem, and all her family and loved ones.

Thanks to David Huntsman, Allyson Vought and NBPD Deputy Chief David McGill for their help with this story.

Update: A friend of Deem’s describes her as “a mother, wife, attorney, gourmet chef, homemaker and cyclist,” according to Corona del Mar Today

The Orange County Register reports the victim of the Rancho Santa Margarita crash is a 34-year old man, who remains in critical condition.

Actually, the Newport Beach Police Department gets it after all; Gardena may be another matter

No one gets it right all the time.

Myself included

But I have to respect anyone who can accept criticism. Especially when they actually do something about it. And particularly when the problem involves the often troublesome intersection of police and bikes.

That’s exactly what happened recently when I criticized the bicycling webpage of the Newport Beach Police Department.

As you may recall, I took them to task for offering bike safety advice that suggested cyclists should always ride to the right, while ignoring the many exceptions to CVC21202 that allow bike riders to take the lane for their own safety.

As well as disputing their recommendation to ride single file, a requirement which is contained nowhere in the California Vehicle Code.

My reasoning wasn’t just that they were wrong. It was that both bike riders and motorists might get the wrong idea from reading it, needlessly contributing to the conflicts on our streets.

The surprising part came a few days later when I received an email from bike riding NBPD Deputy Chief David McGill.

Needless to say, he wasn’t thrilled my criticisms. But instead of arguing with me, he wanted to reach out to me to work together in addressing the problems facing bicyclists in Newport Beach.

As he put it,

When Jay Johnson was sworn in as our Chief of Police in 2010, he made bicycle safety an important part of the Department’s mission.  As a result, in the past several months the NBPD has increased their efforts to work together with the community and the City’s Citizen’s Bicycle Safety Committee (recently reformed as the Bicycle Master Plan Oversight Committee) to do what we can to help improve bicycle safety for all people who visit, live and work in Newport Beach.  Together with our partners, we have accomplished much in the past few years, but there is always more work to do.

When I took a second look at what I’d written, I realized that I’d come off a little harsher than I had intended for what was, in balance, good advice for bike riders. So I toned down my criticism of their website, while responding to his email to explain my objections.

Then, to be honest, I forgot all about it, as a continuing parade of various issues and crises, both personal and bike-related, took precedence.

But they didn’t.

This week I got another email from McGill saying the department had considered my suggestions. And actually acted upon them.

But more importantly, they got it right this time.

My only suggestion was to add the phrase “when traveling below the speed of traffic” to their advice about “riding furthest to the right.” And when I checked back before writing this, I saw that change had already been made.

Of course, we didn’t win on every count.

While they continue to interpret the vehicle code as not allowing side-by-side riding in most situations, it also seems to be a lower priority for the department. And they’ve removed the instruction to ride single file from their website.

I can live with that.

And you can’t ask for much more than a police department that is willing to listen to — and better yet, act on — criticism from the bike riding public.

NBPD Chief Johnson, and those who work for him, have won my respect.

And my gratitude.

………

Gardena might be another story.

According to the official version, police responding to a report of a robbery and/or stolen bicycle attempted to stop two men they spotted riding bikes. That’s when a third man ran up to them, and — allegedly — reached into his waist band.

Thinking he was reaching for a gun, the officers shot multiple times, killing him and wounding one of the other men.

But if he really was armed, no one has bothered to mention it yet.

Now witness reports are coming out that the victim, Ricardo Diaz-Zeferino, was actually running with his hands in the air, rather than near his waistband. And he was trying to tell the officers that the two men were his friends, and weren’t involved in the theft.

In other words, he died because it was his bike that was stolen. And he was trying to help two friends who had nothing to do with the crime.

Now, don’t get me wrong.

I understand that cops have their lives on the line, and things can go horribly wrong in any contact with the public. And that they have to make split-second decisions to protect both their own safety and those they are sworn to protect.

It’s easy for us to sit back and judge their actions after the fact. A lot harder to make those split-second decisions in real time, in real world situations.

But it looks like an innocent man — one of the L.A.’s area’s many bike riding Los Invisibles — became all too visible at exactly the wrong time, in front of cops who apparently reacted to what they thought was happening, rather than was actually was.

And now a man is dead because of it.

All because he was the victim of a bike theft, and some cops in an area with a large Latino population who apparently didn’t understand Spanish.

………

On a related note, KPFK’s Michael Slate Show will interview Sandra Cotton, sister of Terry Laffitte, who was fatally shot by police who initially attempted to pull him over for riding without lights last month.

The broadcast will air today — Friday — at 10 am on KPFK 90.7, streaming live at www.kpfk.org.

………

Finally, just a few more quick notes.

Nearly forgotten in the dust-up over New York’s bike share program is the fact that L.A.’s Bike Nation bike share program was supposed to be up and running by now. Streetsblog’s Damien Newton explains why it isn’t and maybe never will be.

The new mayor of Compton is young, female and an actual urban planner.

Volvo designs a safety system that can recognize a bike rider and apply the brakes before a collision can occur; thanks to Jeff White for the link.

An Alexandria VA bike advocate effectively rebuts the myth of the scofflaw cyclist; link courtesy of Kent Peterson.

John Grotz forwards a link to a video currently making the rounds showing a New York bike rider repeatedly cut off, then threatened in a Hassidic neighborhood before another man comes to his rescue. He notes this is the same neighborhood that successfully lobbied to have new bike lanes removed a few years back.

A Victoria BC mountain biker is nearly decapitated when a wire is strung across a bike trail in an apparent sabotage attack.

And a Brazilian billionaire’s son gets community service, loss of his license for two years and a nearly half million dollar fine — chump change for his family — for running down a bike rider in his $1.3 million Mercedes SLR McLaren.

And yes, he’s planning to appeal his very generous slap on the wrist.

Catching up with today’s way too long compendium of all the latest bike news and links

Let’s take a few minutes to catch up on this week’s news now that things have settled down a little.

Or maybe quite a few minutes.

It’s a long list.

………

Beverly Hills isn’t the only place where a road raging driver has left an injured cyclist in his wake.

Around 5 pm last Friday, a group of women visiting from Las Vegas were riding single file on eastbound PCH in Newport Beach, when a Cadillac pulled up behind one on the riders and started honking impatiently — then plowed into one of the riders, rather than wait a few seconds until they could get out of his way.

The jerk driver fled the scene, but returned later, claiming it was the victim’s fault. Evidently for having the audacity to occupy the same space where he wanted to put his car.

The woman was transported to a local hospital with a head injury; a comment to the story indicates she was released after being kept overnight.

And no word yet on whether the driver was cited, or if charges are pending.

Thanks to Lois for the link.

………

An unarmed bike rider is shot by an L.A. Sheriff’s Deputy who thought he was acting “suspicious” and might have had a gun.

Maybe I’m missing something here, but since when is the mere possibility that someone might a weapon sufficient justification for using deadly force?

Maybe that’s why some drivers have been so aggressive lately. They can’t tell if I’ve got a gun in my bike shorts, or just happy to see them.

………

On the job front, Safe Routes to School is looking for an Active Transportation Fellow in DC. The League of American Bicyclists is looking for a Development Director. And if you’re a bike enthusiast with wrenching skills, GMR Marketing has a job for you at this year’s Amgen Tour of California.

………

The LA Weekly trolls for web hits once again, claiming, among other things, that the best way to improve L.A. traffic is to rip out bike lanes in favor of restoring regular traffic lanes. As evidence, the bike-baiting writer who shall remain unnamed claims the 7th Street bike lanes are unused and result in angry motorists.

Yet he somehow fails to explain why the city’s worst traffic problems are on streets that don’t even have bike lanes.

As someone who rides 7th Street on a regular basis, I can attest that I have never seen a traffic jam there since the bike lanes were put in, even at rush hour. And seldom find myself the only cyclist using the popular lanes, which have become the primary feeder route for riders coming into Downtown from the Westside.

But then, the Weekly doesn’t always let the facts get in the way of the story when it comes to bikes these days.

………

Once again, L.A. County’s killer highway claims another life, this time a pedestrian crossing Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu.

Which is a needlessly tragic lead-in to the news that Malibu is hosting a pair of public meetings next month to discuss the city’s PCH Safety Study next month. If you ride on PCH — or ever find yourself trying to cross the street there — you owe it to yourself to attend one.

………

Maybe it’s just because the producer is my nephew. But this looks like a pretty decent distracted driving PSA. Especially considering it was made by a 16-year old who just got his license.

………

The city council gives the go-ahead for bike share in Downtown L.A., while CD14 Councilmember Jose Huizar introduces a motion to repaint the Spring Street green bike lanes. Speaking of which, the most recent bike count shows ridership on Spring Street is up another 40%, after a 52% increase last year; I suppose the Weekly would say no one uses those, either. Construction will begin soon on shared bike/bus lanes on Sunset Blvd. Mark your calendar for Bike Week; pledge to ride on Bike to Work Day and you could win a bike from REI. Examined Spoke offers some good thoughts about CicLAvia; I missed that somehow in yesterday’s roundup. Will Campbell unwillingly shares a burger with a man who blames cyclists for everything that’s wrong with Los Angeles; maybe he’s a regular Weekly reader. A Silver Lake bike rodeo is scheduled for May 18th. Metro works to improve bike and pedestrian access in Boyle Heights and Little Tokyo. How to get abandoned bikes removed from racks. Both Helen’s Cycles in Santa Monica and Pasadena’s Incycle Bicycles invite you to ride with them this weekend to learn about Tour de Cure. County Commissioner Zev Yaroslavsky says NBC Universal has agreed to complete — and help pay for — a missing link in the L.A. River Bike Path through Universal Studios; now if he could only apply a little pressure to the anti-bike city of Vernon. Calabasas bike-centric farm-to-table restaurant, coffee roaster and Moots bike boutique Pedalers Fork is open, and the first reviews are already in and looking good. In other food news, bike-powered Peddler’s Creamery is now open in Downtown L.A. The San Marino paper offers what may be the most accurate estimate of attendance at Sunday’s CicLAvia, putting the total at an open-to-interpretation several hundred thousand.

The third attempt at a California three-foot passing law passed its first hurdle in the state legislature; now its on the Appropriations Committee, even though it wouldn’t seem to require any. Riverside boldly decides to study a disputed bike lane. An open letter to the AAA. No charges against a stop sign-running Apple Valley driver who hit a cyclist. A call for artistic bike racks in Beaumont. A Newport Beach city councilmember criticizes the sentence given the killer driver in the Campion-Ritz hit-and-run; but why is the death of a “significant citizen” any more important or tragic than anyone elses? Presenting the best bike ride around San Diego’s Mission Bay; I often followed a similar course when I lived down there. Escondido’s Muffler Man will get bike drag in time for the Amgen Tour of California. When a little girl’s bike is stolen, an Oxnard cop buys her a new one at his own expense, then teaches her how to ride it; thanks to our Carolina friend Zeke for the heads-up. Red Kite Prayer drops in on this year’s Sea Otter Classic. A new bike path opens connecting Downtown San Jose to the Bay. A case so old I’d forgotten all about it finally comes to a conclusion, as a Santa Clara County deputy gets a warm caress on the wrist when he’s sentenced to four months, possibly to be served at home, for killing two riders while asleep at the wheel. Unlike its L.A. counterpart, the San Francisco Weekly doesn’t have it’s collective head planted firmly up its own posterior, explaining why protected bike lanes are good for business; then again, even NBC says the same thing, at least for small businesses. It’s been a bad year for NorCal cyclists, as a 79-year old rider was the latest to killed; if a bike rider can fall under the wheels of a passing car, doesn’t that suggest the car was passing dangerously close — let alone that it might have caused the fall?

A Portland driver somehow finds herself on a separated bikeway rather than the interstate highway bridge next to it; local police say “oops.” Another self-hating bike rider who says cyclists don’t belong on the road (scroll down). Those bike-riding Portland kids sure have it easy these days. Bike share will launch in Seattle next year. An Alaska cyclist rides his fatbike over 2,000 miles in the middle of winter along two of the state’s famed sled dog trails. Big hearted strangers give a new bike to the victim of an Oklahoma hit-and-run victim. America’s only surviving Tour de France winner says he has no vendetta against Lance Armstrong; can’t say the same about the U.S. government, though. Louisiana driver gets a minor citation despite hitting and seriously injuring a bike rider who stopped in a bike lane. Bikeyface wishes bikes were more like cars. New York imposes new restrictions on bike delivery riders. NYC’s new bike share program isn’t even open yet, and it’s already being vandalized.

A UK nurse was over twice the legal alcohol limit — and on her way to work — when she killed a cyclist and fled the scene, stopping only to pull the bike out of her way. A driver with a suspended license killed a cycling married couple as he fled from police. Amazingly, British police refuse to file charges against a road raging driver was captured on helmet cam beating the crap out of a bike rider; thanks to Joni for the heads-up. Parliament members call for reducing speed limits and jailing dangerous drivers, as well as boosting spending levels to £1 billion to encourage more people to take up bicycling. Photos of eyes over bike racks cut theft rates. Town Mouse is more concerned with the safety of the dog chasing her. The director of a Dutch — yes, Dutch — road safety institute calls for a mandatory helmet law for riders over 55. A new book looks at Italian cycling great Fausto Coppi. The authoritarian state of Uzbekistan is banning bicycles in the capital, seizing bikes and advising bike shops to shut down. A Persian Gulf writer asks if taking a dangerous shortcut is really worth it. Queensland is relaxing their mandatory helmet laws to allow religious requirements. An Aussie woman is ticketed for using a handheld cell phone while riding, but the local press is more freaked out by her “bizarre” tall bike. Tempers run hot Down Under, as a cyclist is punched out by an angry driver. Why women should ride to work and how to get started.

Finally, build your own sandwich bike; peanut butter and jelly optional. A British thief returns a stolen “lusciously smooth” bike with an apology and a coupon. And trust me, you don’t want to read the comments to the Times’ story  about the Beverly Hills road rage case — let alone the ones on the CBS version.

But you’re probably going to anyway.

Breaking news: Driver sentenced to five years in hit-and-run death of Newport Beach cyclist

I’ve gotten confirmation from multiple sources that Michael Jason Lopez pleaded guilty today in the hit-and-run death of Newport Beach cyclist Dr. Catherine Campion-Ritz.

As you may recall, Campion-Ritz was the second of two cyclists killed in Newport Beach in just 24 hours last September, hit from behind as she rode with her husband in the bike lane on high-speed Newport Coast Drive. The driver fled the scene, leaving her critically injured in the street; she died later at a local hospital.

According to a press release from the OC District Attorney’s office, the Newport Beach Police Department used surveillance video to identify Lopez’ truck and determined that he was the driver, arresting him just three days after the collision.

Lopez accepted a plea deal for a single felony count of hit-and-run causing death and a misdemeanor count of vehicular manslaughter without gross negligence.

According to the press release, he will serve five years in state prison. However, another source indicates that Lopez will serve four years in state prison on the felony count — with the possibility of parole — followed by another year in county jail for the misdemeanor.

The death of the popular physician had a huge impact on her family, as the press release indicates.

Victim impact statements were submitted to the court by the victim’s mother, her husband, two brothers, and two sisters. The victim’s mother said in part, “Her death was a tragic loss for all of us. Without warning, she was gone and our lives will never be the same without her. I never expected to outlive my children, yet Kit is gone at 57 and I am still here at 87.”

The victim’s husband said in part, “Catherine was many things to many people; physician and leader in the medical community, business leader, a church lector, and family leader. To me she was my wife. She was my confidant, my partner in adventure, and my inspiration. There is an emptiness at home with no one to reminisce about [the] past, to discuss the day’s events or to make plans for the future. The activities we did together I typically now do alone or not at all.”

What the release doesn’t mention is the impact her death had on the larger community.

Along with the death of cyclist Sarah Leaf a day earlier, it inspired a massive rally and bike safety campaign that still reverberates today. As tragic as it is, we can honestly say her death wasn’t in vain, as it has lead to improvements in safety and enforcement that could help keep other riders alive.

Which, honestly, should be the result of every cyclist who falls on our streets.

Whether just five years, or potentially less, is justice in this case is subject to debate; Dr. Christopher Thompson got a similar sentence for merely maiming two riders, though his actions were intentional.

However, it is a lot more than the slap on the wrist too many hit-and-run killers get away with.

And it’s probably the best we could hope for without going to trial.

Thanks to Jeffrey Fylling and Ann for the heads-up. And thanks to the NBPB and Deputy DA Anna McIntire for bringing a killer to justice.

Bad news on Christmas Eve — Hero Newport Beach lifeguard dies in apparent solo fall

This is not the news any of us want on Christmas Eve.

According to Corona del Mar Today, a hero lifeguard has died after an apparent solo fall.

Thirty-eight-year old Brian Gray was found laying face down near his bike at 2:02 am Friday at the intersection of 26th Street and Newport Blvd in Newport Beach. A police spokesman says he was simply fell while riding his bike; he died the following day in a local hospital.

The news site reports that Gray, a lifelong resident of Newport Beach, was one of the rescuers who saved the life of 13-year old Dylan Scott of Riverside when he was buried in the sand in 2006; he received the Bravo Award from the American Red Cross, along with other lifeguards involved in the rescue.

In addition to his work as a lifeguard for the past 21 years, Gray worked as a courier for the Newport Beach Fire Department; paramedics reportedly recognized him at the scene.

Of course, as in any solo fall, the question is why.

Given the hour, it’s possible that Gray may have been drinking and simply fell off his bike.

However, it’s also entirely possible that he fell as a result of being brushed or buzzed by a passing car, leaving little or no evidence behind to point to a dangerous pass that may have resulted in the rider’s death — which I suspect happens far more often than any of us realize.

Or he could have simply lost control of his bike for any number of reasons, something that happens to even the best riders, myself included.

This is the 73rd cycling fatality in Southern California this year, three above the total for last year, and the 14th bicycling death in Orange County this year. Remarkably, it’s the third bicycling fatality in tiny Newport Beach, with a population of just 86,000 — though it should be noted that the area is a popular biking destination, drawing in far more riders than its small size would suggest.

Gray is also the 14th SoCal rider to die in a solo fall in 2012, and third in Orange County.

So please, let’s be careful out there.

My deepest sympathy and prayers for Brian Gray and all his family and loved ones. It’s hard enough to lose someone you love, but especially tough this time of year.

Thanks to David Huntsman for the heads-up.

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