Tag Archive for Stephanie Segal

Breaking news — Stephanie Segal sentenced to 9 years for DUI death of cyclist James Laing

I’ve just received word that Stephanie Segal was sentenced today to nine years in state prison for the drunken hit-and-run death of popular cyclist James Laing.

Laing was riding in a designated bike lane on Agoura Hills Road on October 23rd, 2010, when a car driven by Segal drifted into his lane and hit him from behind before speeding off. Witnesses followed her car to a nearby parking lot where she was arrested with a blood alcohol level of .26 — over three times the legal limit.

According to an attorney who was in the Malibu courtroom, Segal was sentenced to four years for vehicular manslaughter, with a five year enhancement for leaving the scene.

From what I’ve been told, Segal never accepted responsibility for her actions; that, along with the heinous nature of her crime, may have contributed to the unusually stiff sentence.

Finally, a judge has treated the death of a cyclist with the seriousness it deserves. Judge Mira deserves our thanks for sending a strong message that fleeing the scene after killing another human being — especially when drunk — cannot and will not be tolerated by a civil society.

Now if only a few other judges would get the message.

If she serves her full term, Segal will be 53 years old when she gets out of prison.

Maybe by then she’ll finally grasp the needless heartache and loss she caused Laing’s widow, his brothers and sisters, and all those who knew him.

She is scheduled to begin her sentence on April 16th.

Update: The Ventura County Star offers a few more details, including word that Laing’s widow received a substantial settlement prior to the sentencing, according to her attorney, Oxnard-based Mark Hiepler.

“It is our hope that today’s nine-year sentence, as well as the civil accountability, will send a message to the community about the real life consequences of drunk driving,” he said. “The death of James Laing continues to produce an ongoing ripple effect in the lives of his wife, their families, the cycling community, and in the lives of each of his students who admired him.

“It also is our hope that this criminal sentence will force people to be more respectful of the rights of law-abiding bicyclists and cyclists,” Hiepler said.

Christine Dahab to face felony DUI charges, ID in July Downtown bike fatality, Cpt. Hines behind bars

Against all odds, justice prevailed in Culver City.

According to the Culver City Patch, Christine Dahab has been charged with felony DUI and DWI in the June collision that left 13 cyclists injured — some seriously — when she plowed into a group of riders stopped on the side of West Jefferson Place.

The DA’s office charged Dahab on Nov. 11 with violating California Vehicle Code Section 23153 (A) [Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol causing injury], and California Vehicle Code Section 23153 (B) [Driving while Intoxicated above a .08 blood alcohol content, causing injury].

Both charges are felonies. Dahab wil be formally arraigned at the Los Angeles Airport Court on Dec. 22.

Many local cyclists had given up on ever getting justice in the case, following an initial finding by the LAPD that the cyclists were at fault for standing in the roadway.

According to the finding, the riders became pedestrians the moment some had dismounted from their bikes to wait for stragglers, and so could not legally stand in the roadway — even though most, if not all, of the riders were waiting in the parking lane rather than the traffic lane.

And police falsely claimed that Dahab’s visibility was limited by a blind curve, even though a subsequent test by local riders made it clear that the cyclists should have been readily visible to any non-distracted driver.

To make matters worse, some irresponsible members of the press quoted an unidentified LAPD officer implying that the riders were engaged in a drunken orgy in the middle of the street, noting the presence of beer bottles and condoms in the area where the cyclists were waiting. Yet failed to observe that the area is a popular hangout for people looking for a secluded place to party, and that they could have been left there days or weeks before.

It’s a slander that has entered the public consciousness, as shown by today’s report by LAist that claimed authorities had “found alcohol, condoms and marijuana used by the group.” Even though no reports at the time had ever connected the objects to the riders themselves.

Fortunately, later examination of the city limits revealed that the collision had actually occurred in Culver City.

And while it may have taken a long time, the results indicate that the CCPD took the matter seriously despite the LAPD’s initial finding, and an investigation hampered by the reluctance of many witnesses to come forward.

Thanks to Steve Herbert for the heads-up.

……..

Thanks to the efforts of cyclist/attorney Dj Wheels, we finally have a name for the cyclist who was killed at 8th and Francisco in Downtown L.A. last July.

While the collision was initially reported as collateral damage in a road rage case, the LAPD investigators quickly ruled that out for a lack of evidence, despite witness reports that the driver had been arguing with another driver.

Instead, police investigators ruled that Victor Apaseo-Rodriguez was killed as a result of a narrowed roadway, combined with drivers angling to enter a freeway onramp.

Part of the delay in identifying Rodriguez was the difficulty contacting his next of kin, who lived outside the country. Yet even after they were notified, I was unable to get either the name of the victim or the driver charged with causing his death, despite repeated requests.

Fortunately, Wheels succeeded where I failed.

Acording to Wheels, the driver, Phillip Goldburn Williams, was charged with a misdemeanor count of vehicular manslaughter without gross negligence on October 6th, and arraigned in Metro Court Dept. 60 on October 28th, case number 1MP09818. However, Wheels notes that Williams’ attorney did not enter a plea at that time, and the case has been continued to January 19, 2012.

It will be interesting to watch this case move forward, and see if there’s a reason why authorities were so reluctant to release information that should have been a matter of public record

……..

Speaking of Dj Wheels, we both had a brief scare earlier in the week when it appeared that disgraced Long Beach Fire Captain John Hines had been released on time served, despite a sentence of one year in Orange County jail.

And even that seems like a slap on the wrist for critically injuring cyclist Jeffery Gordon while driving drunk at nearly three times the legal limit — then driving home, reportedly without slowing down, leaving his victim bleeding in the street.

This from a man trained to save victims just like the one he caused.

Fortunately, it was all a misunderstanding.

Wheel’s had followed up on Hines’ incarceration, only to discover that the OC Sheriff’s inmate locator page said Hines had been released at 9:40 am on November 30th. What it didn’t say, and what was missing from all the news stories about his sentencing, was that the judge took the current prison overcrowding problems into account in crafting his sentence, and ruled that Hines can spend his time in an approved city jail, monitored by the county probation department.

In effect, it’s a tougher sentence then he would have gotten in county lockup, where Hines could have enjoyed a Lindsay Lohan-like express route through the system, and been released after serving less than half his already light sentence.

Now he will be required to serve out the full time.

Wheels also notes that the judge specifically structured the sentence to prevent Hines from getting credit for his time in rehab. And that his five-year probation following his release won’t be an easy path, but instead will require monthly reporting duties and fees, along with possible warrantless searches — and that any screw-up anywhere along the way could mean an immediate trip to state prison to serve out the remainder of the probationary period.

So maybe, just maybe, this was less a slap on the wrist than a swift kick in the ass.

……..

Despite reports to the contrary, Stephanie Segal has not been sentenced in the death of cyclist James Laing.

There was some confusion when she was expected to plead to guilty at a hearing on November 29th. However, the defense balked after asking the judge for an indicated ruling — that is, an estimate of what the sentence would be if the defendant changed her plea in open court.

When the defense heard a possible sentence in excess of nine years, they immediately withdrew the plea; a preliminary hearing is now scheduled for December 13th.

It sounds like the judge is giving this case the serious consideration it deserves, and for a change, intends to hold Segal fully accountable for getting drunk and killing another human being.

Now if we could just get him to talk with the CHP.

……..

Last night, I received an email from one of the two riders who tried to assist Carol Schreder immediately after the collision that took her life on Mulholland Hwy last Saturday.

In it, he described comforting her until the paramedics arrived, noting that she was unresponsive, but did manage to squeeze his hand as he held hers. He did not want to share the devastating details in the comments on here, but wanted to come forward to help her family and friends as they try to piece together what really happened that day.

Personally, I can’t think of any higher act of kindness that any person could perform than to simply be there for someone so badly hurt, and let her know she’s not alone in her time of need. My heart goes out to him as he continues to struggle with the painful memories of that morning.

As well as my thanks for stepping up to help a total stranger.

He also mentioned that a doctor came along to help before the paramedics arrived, as well as a photographer to took some pictures of the collision scene. And sure enough, earlier this morning I saw a photo posted online that appeared to show Schreder’s bike shortly after the wreck.

While there was nothing identifying it as the bike she’d ridden, it looked identical to her bike in every way, and was dated the same day as her collision.

But what the photo showed was shocking.

While the CHP has stated that the driver’s van and trailer jackknifed, striking Schreder’s bike with the right rear of the van, this photo clearly showed the aftermath of a rear end collision. The rear wheel of the bike was jammed under the van’s left front wheel, and a gash in the frame corresponded to the upper ridge of the van’s front bumper, with the van coming to rest at a nearly 90-degree angle to the side of the road.

Simply put, it would have been physically impossible for the bike to have ended up in that position if the collision occurred the way the CHP described. Which calls into further question their already dubious decision not to file charges or ticket the driver, calling it just an “unfortunate accident.”

Unfortunately, shortly after I emailed the photographer to ask for permission to use his photo, the shot disappeared from his website, and I have not received a response as of this writing.

I can only hope that he will do the right thing.

And regardless of whether he ever lets me share it with you, that he will forward it to the CHP and Schreder’s family, so they can get the justice they deserve in this case.

……..

Finally, in one of the most bizarre cases I’m aware of, a Virginia driver is fined just $500 for recklessly running down a German tourist touring the U.S. by bike — then initially fleeing the scene before returning, claiming he was chasing a mythical driver who forced him off the road.

That’s $500 for putting a visitor to this country into a coma he may never come out of.

And that’s what too often passes for justice for cyclists in America.

No news is good news? Stephanie Segal sentencing delayed

As many of you may know, Stephanie Segal was scheduled to be sentenced yesterday for the drunken hit-and-run death of cyclist James Laing in Agoura Hills last October.

However, when there was no word last night on the sentencing, I reached out to cyclist/attorney Dj Wheels to see if he’d heard anything. As it turned out, he’d already checked with the court clerk, who informed him that the hearing had been continued to November 29th; no reason was given.

Personally, I’m hoping the judge will give us a strict sentence we can be thankful for around Thanksgiving, instead of a terrifying slap on the wrist just before Halloween.

……..

Wheels also reports that Shawn Fields is appealing his seven-year sentence in the drunken hit-and-run death of 17-year old cyclist Danny Marin, case number B236186. His opening brief is due in mid-December; however, he’s still waiting for an attorney to be appointed, so expect a delay.

And a trial date has finally been scheduled for Patrick Roraff in the alleged street-racing death of pro cyclist Jorge Alvarado in April of last year. A pretrial hearing is scheduled for December 19, with a trial readiness conference January 20th, and the actual trial is set to begin on January 23rd. As Wheels notes, we’ll have to see how firm those dates turn out to be.

After all, Roraff may have some more soccer matches scheduled.

Family member reacts to Tuesday’s hearing for Stephanie Segal, accused killer of cyclist Jim Laing

The Laing family; Jim is in the center, his sister Peggy is on his right

This past Wednesday, a hearing was scheduled at the Malibu Courthouse for Stephanie Segal, the driver accused of killing popular cyclist Jim Laing in a drunken hit-and-run in Agoura Hills last October.

I had planned to attend until last minute obligations kept away. However, I just received an email from Peggy Krause, older sister of Jim Laing, who filled me in on everything I missed; she graciously agreed to let me share her thoughts with you.

Hi Ted – Hope you remember me.  I am Jim Laing’s sister, Peggy Krause.

I was waiting for the hearing for Ms. Segal to take place in order to write you and that time has come. Yesterday, September 7th, was Stephanie Segal’s final Pretrial hearing before Judge Lawrence Mira in Malibu Courthouse. Thanks for keeping tabs on the status of her case in your last few newsletters. Although there were no cyclists in jerseys present at the hearing, our family is grateful for your support.

The reason for this hearing was primarily for Victim Impact Statements. My whole family wrote Victim Impact Statements and sent them to Judge Mira and we were each provided ample time to present them verbally in court to the Judge. My mother went first. I accompanied her to the podium where we were to deliver our statements, as she was too distraught to stand on her own. Stephanie Segal was, in fact, present at the hearing, with her attorney… Only a few feet away from us. My Mom started her statement with … “I loved my son from the day he was born” and wept through her entire speech, ending with a statement to Ms. Segal to the effect that she hoped someday she could do something good in her life by helping others to avoid another tragedy such as this. It was heartbreaking and the entire courtroom was visibly moved, including Judge Mira and his clerk.

Afterward, there was at least 30-45 min. of negotiations at the Judge’s bench between the Senior D.A., Ms. Segal’s attorney, and Lulu’s private (civil) attorney…heated discussions and audible objections from Lulu herself directly to the Judge. It seemed like an eternity. Counsel were so far apart on the length of time for Ms. Segal’s incarceration and Ms. Segal’s offer was vehemently unacceptable to us. That being said, the Judge declared sentencing would be postponed until October 27, 2011 at 10:00 am. By the way, Ms. Segal has NEVER changed her plea of “Not Guilty”.

Afterward, the D.A. and an independent counsel who was there in the courtroom approached our family on the courthouse steps stating that it had been a very long time since they had seen a family so gracious and dignified towards a defendant who had taken a family member’s life. They assured us that it had a profound effect on the Judge’s decision that day versus if no family had been present or made statements in court. It was an unexpectedly good feeling of relief in that justice actually may be served in this case. It was without a doubt the best thing we could have done for Jim.

I attached my Impact Statement in lieu of a statement right after Jim’s death. This case is not only about Jim, but about ALL cyclists… That this type of behavior CANNOT be tolerated. There must be a precedence set for this type of crime. As my statement sets forth, I personally will NEVER feel the same when I ride now … Always looking over my shoulder with trepidation and an abundance of caution in my heart that frankly was never there before.

I also attached a recent picture of our family: Jim’s in the center I’m in yellow shirt on Jim’s left. Thank you again, Ted. You have been invaluable to our family and to the cause of all cyclists out there.

Peggy

……..

Here’s is the Victim Impact Statement that Peggy Krause submitted to the court (click to enlarge). I hope you find it as moving as I do.

Getting the royal road treatment from Hollywood police, and encouraging a motorist to drive better

Earlier this week, I was cut off by a driver who pulled out from a side street without ever looking in my direction.

So I jerked on my brakes and yelled out a warning. And he responded by calling me an asshole before speeding on his way.

So let me get this straight.

He drives in a careless manner, putting other people’s lives at risk. But I’m the asshole for trying to avoid getting killed?

Or maybe just being on the planet?

Fortunately, experiences — and drivers — like that are the exception.

Santa Monica Spoke member and bike advocate Eric Weinstein had a couple of much better encounters recently, demonstrating that there is hope for détente on our streets.

And that maybe things are better out there than it seems sometimes.

Sunday I was cycling back from a bar near Universal City. So, I’m southbound on Cahuenga Bvld, through the pass, which I expect to be difficult, with a narrow road and fast cars. Well…the auto traffic is conveniently stopped on most of the downhill portion. About 3/4 of a mile of cars: all nose to tail, not moving at all.

They can’t hurt you if they’re not moving! Nice!

So, I ride between the lanes and arrive at the Hollywood Bowl entrance intersection. There is an event starting, with a bunch of traffic and police types, and everyone waits for quite a few minutes until the cross traffic is stopped. When it’s time to go, the traffic officer points to me and says “You first.” I go, all alone, and she holds the rest for at least 30 seconds, which gives me time to accelerate to speed, take the lane, etc. Nice!

Then I get to Highland and Hollywood Boulevard, where my route turns right. Another line of cars, all turning right, all stopped by a traffic guy and a large bunch of pedestrians in the crosswalk. I cruise up the outside, because you all know you do not want to be between a car and a right turn!

When I get to the head of the line, the cop asks me “ You turning right?” “Yep” I say. Where else would I be going stopped at a right turn. The pedestrian mob ends, and he points to me and says “Go now!” and he holds the rest of the cars until I’m well clear. Nice! And much safer.

Are there new instructions on this to the Hollywood Traffic police? Have any other cyclists been allowed go first like that? This was a great experience! I really felt that a cyclist belonged in traffic.

The following day, I was biking down Colorado in Santa Monica near 20th. It was the part where it’s pretty commercial — the road is two lanes per side with some parking, some curb. It’s reasonably wide.

An unfortunately typical thing happens – the squeeze. When I bike there, I take 1/3 of the lane, putting me just outside the door zone. At almost 20 mph I expect the cars to follow me until there is room to pass in the lane to their left.  When there’s room on my right I put over to let them past.

What surprised me was that a small silver sports car could just squeeze by in the 2/3 of a lane remaining at about 35 mph. Always brings that feeling of mortality when there’s a car zooming by right next to your handlebar.

Sometimes, though, you catch them at the next light. That’s what happened this time, so I put up next to the open passenger side window and say “Hey” to the driver.

The driver is a blond woman, who is hunched over, looking down and texting! She is very, very startled as she realizes someone is talking to her from outside the car and sits up, looking guilty. I say, “You just did the same thing to me back there!”

Pause while she (maybe) remembers passing me a minute ago. If anything she looks more guilty. Next I say “Please don’t text!” She says apologetically “I wasn’t texting back there.”

“Please leave more space when you pass,” I say. “Sorry,” she says. And I think she means it. She really looked very embarrassed.

The light changes, and we drive off. I think she got it.

And, I hope, another driver converted to changing their ways.

Something tells me that the driver I encountered wouldn’t have responded quite so well had I been able to catch him.

Not that I tried, of course.

……..

As you may recall, Stephanie Segal is currently facing charges of gross vehicular manslaughter and hit-and-run for the death of cyclist James Laing in Agoura Hills last year. Laing was riding in the bike lane on Agoura Road when Segal allegedly ran him down, with a blood alcohol content of .26%.

Now, in what promises to be a very emotional day, Victim Impact Statements are scheduled to be heard on September 7th, starting at 8:30 am in Department 1 of the Malibu Courthouse, 23525 Civic Center Way.

Cyclists are urged to attend to show support for the victim and his family. I’m told that a room full of riders in bike jerseys would make a real statement to the court and offer comfort to the family; however, wear long pants, because shorts — bike or otherwise — are not allowed in the courtroom.

……..

Bicycling offers a look at the top contenders and 3 stages to watch in next week’s USA Pro Cycling Challenge, aka Tour of Colorado. It doesn’t bode well for the Pro Cycling Challenge that another Colorado bike race is sabotaged. Mark Cavendish and his HTC-Highroad team want to win one last grand tour at the Vuelta before the team is dissolved at the end of this season.

And then there’s this:

Q. Do you think Lance cheated?

A. Evelyn Stevens. Marianne Vos. Emma Pooley. Jeannie Longo. Kristin Armstrong.

Those are just five of the hundreds of female pro cyclists who deserve more attention and discussion than the question of whether Lance cheated.

That beautiful, brilliant response comes from competitive cyclist Kathryn Bertine, along with her responses to nine other questions cyclists get asked.

……..

After getting hit by a car 10 years ago, Simon Richardson recovered to become a Paralympic cycling champion. Now he’s fighting for his life, a victim of a hit-and-run collision on Wednesday.

……..

The L.A. Weekly decides the city’s new bike plan is already in trouble, just four months after it was adopted. Richard Risemberg points out that the biking black hole of Beverly Hills has a golden opportunity to do something that would benefit cyclists — and everyone else. Stephen Box says Metrolink passes the bike friendly test. Leading bike scribe and advocate Elly Blue’s Dinner & Bikes tour comes to Santa Monica on Saturday, September 10th; word is another local date is in the works on Monday the 12th. More on Temple City’s plans to construct the city’s first bikeway with separated bike lanes on Rosemead Ave. Long Beach makes a long leap towards livability. The L.A. firefighters riding to New York for 9/11 make a side trip to visit the victims of the Joplin MO tornado.

Two Orange County teenagers are under arrest for shooting passing cyclists with a BB gun. San Diego’s Courteous Mass and Critical Manners ride may not bring about world peace, but it’s a start. A driver gets two-years for killing a cyclist in a Bay Area hit-and-run. A Cupertino cyclist rides across Iowa at age 70 after taking up riding just last winter.

As usual, Bob Mionske nails it with a look at internet trolls who respond to every cycling news story from a highly biased and usually inaccurate windshield perspective. Bicycling says follow this diet, and you’ll be able to ride longer on less food and never bonk. Another example showing cyclists are at least as likely as pedestrians to be seriously injured in a collision between the two; oddly, I don’t hear anyone calling for dangerous scofflaw pedestrians to be taxed and licensed. Five easy steps to buying your next bike; they forgot to mention step six, which is finding a way to pay for it. After the rear cyclist on a tandem is killed in a collision, a witness is arrested for going through their belongings. So let me get this straight — did a teenage cyclist riding in a crosswalk dart out and hit a passing truck, or did the driver ignore the girl riding in the crosswalk and cut her off? Springfield Cyclist asks if you’ve ever done anything dumber than locking your bike to a post without the key; maybe that’s what happened here. An Ohio driver is charged with killing a bike-riding judge while driving with a blood alcohol content of nearly .29. New York cyclists may have won the lawsuit over the popular Prospect Park West bike lanes, but some local residents still think they suck — the cyclists and the bike lanes, that is. The sore losers at the Daily News complain about NYDOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan’s highhanded ways; then again, they’d probably complain if she picked up the tab for drinks. Our North Carolina friend Zeke points out that road rage is relative, as drivers patiently line up behind a slow moving tractor without a single horn or finger.

A Canadian cyclist is injured after firecrackers are thrown from a passing car. A Vancouver cyclist is fighting British Columbia’s mandatory helmet law in court; although a little helmet hair isn’t a bad trade-off when your skull is at stake. A 10-year old Brit cyclist is impaled on his handlebars; fortunately, he’ll survive, but this seems to happen far more often than it should. Cyclists and driveways don’t have to be in conflict. Sydney bike riders would feel safer using the city’s bikeways if pedestrians and buses wouldn’t.

Finally, genius must have skipped a generation, as a bike thief is arrested after mentioning on his Facebook page that the bike he’s trying to sell is stolen.

And after nearly getting turned into bug splatter by a stop sign-running VW Beetle on my way home Wednesday night, I’ve come to the conclusion that my last words on this planet may very well be “Oh fu…!”

But then, aren’t we supposed to be the ones who run stop signs?

Cyclist killed in Indio area, suspected Jim Swarzman killer released, Marco Antonio Valencia on trial

I was really hoping I wouldn’t have to write this.

Last night, the CHP reported a collision involving a cyclist in the Indio area; the cryptic feed indicated that the coroner had been called.

As I searched for confirmation, though, I found another report online that said the coroner call had been cancelled, and the rider had been transported to the hospital with major injuries. The CHP feed was later updated to indicate that, as well.

Unfortunately, the good news didn’t last.

According to a story in the Desert Sun, 39-year old Travis Carroll was pronounced dead at 8:17 last night, after being hit by a van while riding on Avenue 42 in Bermuda Dunes. The collision occurred between Washington and Adams Streets at around 7:35.

The sparse description of the collision in the Desert Sun doesn’t really make sense.

The paper reports that Carroll was riding on the north side of the street, which suggests he would have been riding west if he was riding with traffic. He then reportedly began riding southeast, which would mean he either had to make a U-turn, or had actually been riding against traffic and drifted across the roadway before being struck by the west-bound van,

However, that raises the question of why he would cross the path of an oncoming vehicle which should have been clearly visible as he faced it — especially since the paper reports that alcohol does not seem to be a factor.

According to reports, the investigation is ongoing.

.………

The same day Encino endurance cyclist Jim Swarzman was laid to rest at Forrest Lawn, word came that the driver suspected of killing him was released from custody.

According to San Diego’s KGTV, Joseph Ricardo Fernandez was released at the last moment before being arraigned. Reportedly, the reason stemmed from the three day limit authorities have to file charges after taking the suspect into custody.

The station indicates that the delay is due to ongoing forensic work to ensure that Fernandez’ Dodge Ram 1500 pickup was in fact the vehicle that took Swarzman’s life; following that, the DA needs to be able to show that Fernandez was actually the one behind the wheel.

I would hope that they are also investigating his actions before the collision; I suspect they may find that he was drinking heavily.

The reports I’ve heard say the collision was extremely violent; I’ll spare you the details, but it would have been virtually impossible for the driver to have been unaware he hit something, putting to question Fernandez statement to the police that he thought he might have hit something.

Unless he was in a significantly altered state, the driver had to know damn well that he hit something, making his flight afterward a purely intentional — and illegal — act.

The investigation is ongoing, and I have no reason to believe the San Diego DA’s office isn’t taking this case very seriously. But we may want to keep on top of it, just in case.

.………

I’ve been on the run the last few weeks, and haven’t had a chance to update the ongoing legal cases (my apologies to cyclist/attorney Dj Wheels, who has done a great job of keeping me abreast of the ongoing cases).

Wheels reports that the trial has begun in the case of Marco Antonio Valencia, charged with killing Joseph Novotny and seriously injuring three other riders in an alcohol and drug-fueled hit-and-run.

The Signal reports on yesterday’s testimony from the surviving riders; it’s difficult to read, but offers the clearest picture yet what happened on that tragic day. Here’s one brief excerpt:

Chad Lewin, 25, was riding in front of Munana and Novotny during the ride.

As Lewin was riding around a right turn, he saw the bicyclist in front of him slam on his brakes abruptly.

To avoid crashing, Lewin testified that he swerved into the roadway to his left to avoid crashing.

In an instant, he was knocked to the ground by the truck. As he slid, Lewin said his skin was ripped off — in some instances to the muscle.

“As I was sliding backward, I saw Joe 20 feet in the air and hit the mountainside,” Lewin said.

Dj Wheels has been attending some of the court sessions, and offers these thoughts:

It appears that Valencia’s defense will mainly focus on avoiding the “Watson” 2nd degree murder charge by arguing that although he was awake and able to drive, he was not “conscious” of his actions and thus did not have the required specific intent for murder, which would be implied malice.

I don’t know all the case law on these types of DUI murder charges, but essentially Watson says when you have been previously convicted of DUI, you should know all ready that driving drunk can cause serious injury or death, which would establish the intent requirement of malice.  The CA legislature later enacted CVC 23103.5.  As a resulty, many county courts and district attorneys offices for several years now have required defendants to sign a declaration admitting that you acknowledge these risks and that you may be charged with murder if someone dies as a result of their drunk driving.  I believe this declaration can also be used as evidence.

However, under CA Jury Instructions 8.47 says “If you find that a defendant, while unconscious as a result of voluntary intoxication, killed another human being without intent to kill and without malice aforethought, the crime is involuntary manslaughter.”

So my guess is that the defense will try to establish that none of the witnesses actually saw the driver of the vehicle (specifically his face/body) in the seconds before the collision and during the collision in order to establish a reasonable doubt about whether he was indeed “conscious.” I think the only defense witness will be the expert who will testify that someone can be unconscious due to voluntary intoxication, but still be awake.
.………

As long as we’re on the subject of biking collisions and court cases, we might as well keep going.

Danae Marie Miller will be arraigned today on one count of felony vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence while intoxicated in the death of world-class trialthlete Amine Britel in Newport Beach last month. She’s currently out on $100,000 bail.

.………

John Stesney reports that a pretrial hearing is scheduled next week in the death of local scientist and cyclist Doug Caldwell. The hearing for accused driver Gordon Catlett Wray will take place at the San Fernando Courthouse, 900 Third Street in the city of San Fernando, on Wednesday, April 20th at 8:30 am, case #0SR05313.

My sources indicate that despite numerous questions that have been raised that the defendant was using a cell phone at the time of the collision, the prosecutor either can’t get the records, or won’t request them for some reason — even though they could offer proof of distracted driving in fatal collision.

Maybe a few cyclists in the courtroom could stiffen the DA’s resolve, and show how seriously we’re taking this case.

.………

Dj Wheels reports that Shawn Fields was arraigned on March 30th for the heartbreaking hit-and-run death of 17-year old Danny Marin in Pacoima last year; a description of the injuries suffered by Marin — again, I’ll spare you the details — suggests another extremely violent collision.

Wheels offers some revealing testimony from the case:

According to the arresting officer, Fields was asleep at home by the time they arrived at the location where the vehicle was registered. He wouldn’t wake up at first after knocking and banging on the windows from where they could see him sleeping.  Fields also volunteered a statement before being taken to the police station that he shouldn’t have driven home because he had too much to drink at a wrap up party at the Roosevelt in Hollywood. He also saw many bottles of various alcoholic beverages inside Field’s house.

Also, the officer that administered the breath test at the station noted that his BAC was .14/.15 at about 4:15 a.m. The collision occurred about three hours earlier.

The investigating officer who interviewed Fields at the station also testified. Fields told him he got to the party around 10pm and drank a long island ice tea, a red label whiskey, a gin and tonic, beer and some water before leaving. After walking out, he had a bacon wrapped hot dog on the street, threw up on himself, debated whether to drive home, waited in his car for a while then finally drove.  He did not have a recollection of actually driving home, but recalled he may have hit something because he remembered being at a stop light close to home and looking at sparkly dust on his arms from the shattered front windshield.

.………

A preliminary hearing is scheduled for April 28th at 8:30 am in the San Bernardino Superior Court in the case of Patrick Roraff and Brett Michael Morin for the street racing death of pro cyclist Jorge Alvarado last April.

.………

A preliminary hearing is also scheduled for May 11th in the case of Stephanie Segal, charged in the drunken hit-and-run death of cyclist James Laing in Agoura Hills last October.

.………

Jim Lyle forwards news that Richard Schlickman, the cyclist critically injured when he lost control of his bike due to newly installed speed bumps in Palas Verdes Estates, is showing amazing progress and determination, and may be transferred to a rehab facility by the end of the month.

.………

Meanwhile, reports are that your prayers continue to be needed for Adam Rybicki, critically injured by an alleged underage drunk driver in Torrance on April 3rd.

Breaking News — Charges filed against Stephanie Segal in the death of cyclist James Laing

Somehow, this one slipped past us.

Along with a number of other cyclists, I’ve been carefully following the case of Stephanie Segal, the driver accused of killing James Laing in a drunken Agoura Hills hit-and-run last October. And wondering why it was taking the DA so long to file charges in a case that seemed so open and shut.

Wonder no more.

The question isn’t when charges will be filed, but why no announcement was made.

After doing a little digging — okay, a lot of digging — cyclist and attorney Dj Wheels discovered that charges were filed on December 27, and Segal was formally arraigned last Thursday. She pleaded not guilty to one count of felony gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, PC 191.5(a); and one count of felony hit-and-run with injury, CVC 20001(a), and is scheduled to appear for a Preliminary Hearing Setting on March 3rd.

More interesting, perhaps, is that the case is being heard at the same Malibu Courthouse where Robert Sam Sanchez was convicted in the hit-and-run death of Rod Armas — and by the same judge that sentenced Sanchez to 4 years after he pleaded no contest to hit-and-run with injury and vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence.

Although I doubt there are very many people in cycling community who would be satisfied with four years in this case.

Wheels also notes that the judge has ordered Segal not to consume alcohol or controlled substances without a valid prescription, and that she has entered a residential drug and alcohol treatment facility, and was ordered not to leave without the permission of the court or program director.

In other words, she seems to be playing the same Get Out of Jail Free card favored by countless celebrities, entering rehab in hopes of leniency from the court.

The problem is, she may — or may not — sober up. But James Laing will still be dead simply because she chose to get drunk and get behind the wheel — then fled the scene, leaving a husband, son and brother to die in the street.

So let’s hope the judge is too smart to fall for that one.

But let’s make sure they know we’re watching, just in case.

………

In other news, the LA Bicycle Advisory Committee offers up a very full agenda for their meeting Tuesday night at the Community Room of the Hollywood Neighborhood City Hall, 6501 Fountain Avenue. The meeting is open to the public and cyclists are encouraged to attend.

 

Catching up — UCLA’s new Bike Library, photos from the Agoura Road crash site, lots of links

Click to enlarge

While L.A. and other local cities are talking about bike share programs, UCLA is actually doing something about it through an innovative Bike Library program.

Rather than the typical short term rental programs found in a typical bike share, students can rent a bike on a daily, weekend or weekly basis — or for an entire quarter.

UCLA Transportation and UCLA Recreation, through funding provided for by The Green Initiative Fund (TGIF), recently launched a campus bicycle library. The UCLA Bike Library provides bicycles for rent to UCLA students for only $35 for the entire quarter. The bicycle rentals are available through the UCLA Bike Shop, located in the John Wooden Center’s Office of Outdoor Adventures. The bicycles available for rent are Felt Café Series hybrid city-style, 8-speed cruisers, which come equipped with front and rear fenders, front and rear lights, a rear rack, and even a cup holder mounted on the handlebar. Students also have the option of renting a combination cable and u-lock, and a helmet to go along with their bicycle.

At $35 a quarter, the Bike Library may be the last affordable aspect of a UC education. And one of the smartest.

Speaking of UCLA, UCLA Transportation’s short film Bike-U-Mentary was named Best Short Film at the Los Angeles Film and Script Festival.

.………

The Daily News talks to the wife of James Laing, the cyclist killed by an alleged drunk hit-and-run driver in Agoura Hills on Saturday; don’t read it if you don’t want to wipe away a tear when you’re finished.

Former LACBC board member Chris Willig sends along photos of the spot on Agoura Hills where Laing was killed. Clearly, the roadway was not a contributing factor, although a better design would place the bike lane along the curb with a wide buffer between it and the traffic lane.

He also notes the presence of a wine tasting club in the area as a possible explanation for why the driver may have been drunk behind the wheel at 3:45 in the afternoon.

A view of Agoura Road where James Laing was killed on Saturday.

Chalk marks faded by recent rains show the scene of the collision.

On a related subject, Chris reports that the cyclist in the previous Agoura Hills collision at Cornell Road and Mulholland Highway was injured, rather than killed. I had been told by a back-channel source with access to police reports that still-unidentified rider had died several days after the collision; I’ll reach out to the authorities once again to try and get the accurate information.

Nothing would make me happier than to know I was wrong about something like that.

.………

I had to leave early, but by all reports, Tour de Fat was a huge hit and I had fun while I was there. I got some good photos, but an usually busy week has kept me from putting them online yet. In the meantime, Ohai Joe has some great videos of the event to keep you entertained — and for those of you who didn’t go, let you know what you missed so you won’t make the same mistake next year.

And Madeline Brozen notes that the entire event ran on solar power and resulted in only eight pounds of trash, while raising $13,000 for LACBC, C.I.C.L.E. and Bicycle Kitchen.

.………

The father of Rabobank rider Robert Gesink died Saturday, two weeks after crashing in a mountain bike race. BMX cyclist and MTV host TJ Lavin is showing signs of improvement after being critically injured as a result of missing a landing. Lance isn’t quite done racing yet. Just one month after having a baby, Olympic gold medalist Kristin “No Relation to Lance” Armstrong announces her comeback.

.………

Stephen Box looks at the planned Hollywood Bike Hub nearing approval from the Metro Board. West Hollywood may be on the verge of becoming more walkable and bikeable. Damien Newton reminds the press that “crash” and “accident” are not interchangeable; I try to avoid using “accident” on here since so few of them actually are. The architecture critic for the Times calls for a better-connected L.A., from better bike lanes and sidewalks to buses and subways. Claremont Cyclist offers a meditation on the biking derriere. LADOT Bike Blog looks at the traffic diverters that make a Bicycle Friendly Street bike friendly. An OC bike advocate says every issue in bike safety has already been solved; you just have to match the problems to the solutions in recent bike plans from Portland and, yes, Los Angeles.

Tucson forms a new Living Streets group. Arizona’s biking congresswoman doesn’t hesitate to yell at drivers. Why is it that no one ever says we won’t build any more highways if some drivers refuse to obey the speed limit — or that there are too many cars driven by out-of-control motorists? Three questions to ask your congressional candidates before you cast your vote. Slap a $5 sticker on your helmet, and get a discount at participating businesses. Advice on winter riding for those in more cold-weather climes. A Chicago cyclist is doored and run over by a bus, but will survive; needless to say, the driver who doored him left the scene. The NYC cyclist killed in a dooring last week had moved to the city to help the disadvantaged. A New York limo driver comes to the rescue of an L.A. tourist attacked by a cyclist with a long rap sheet. Yes, there are scofflaws in New York bike lanes, and no, they’re not the cyclists; thanks to Stanley for the heads up. Charleston police search for a hit-and-run driver who hit a pedestrian riding a bicycle; is it just me, or is there something wrong with that description?

Campagnolo unveils a new electronic gruppo. Toronto cyclists have to live with a new bike-hating mayor who said it’s your own fault if you get killed. The Guardian looks at the Bike Snob’s guide to cycling tribes. Town Mouse gives London’s Boris Bikes a go. Cyclists may have a persecution complex, but we really could use segregated bikeways. The 2011 Giro will celebrate the 150th anniversary of the unification of Italy. A year in jail and no driving for three years after a road raging motorist viscously beats a cyclist who flipped him off. An Indonesian cycling group calls for bike lanes in every city throughout the country and life insurance for cyclists.

Finally, you don’t have to know the language to get this bloody cartoon about bike helmets. But if you really want to know, Copenhagenize is happy to translate it for you.

And thank goodness we don’t have to worry about Trek’s advanced technology falling into the hands of terrorists.

Update: Cyclist killed in Agoura Hills DUI hit-and-run

It’s bad enough when someone is injured or killed on the streets because of what we euphemistically call accidents.

If everyone obeyed the law and used the roads safely, there wouldn’t be any accidents.

But worse still is when someone gets behind the wheel of motor vehicle after drinking or using drugs — or willing operates their vehicle in any other impaired or distracted manner — and takes the life of another human being as a result. And worse still, flees the scene, leaving a total stranger to die in the street.

According to the Ventura County Star, S.D. Whitmansegal did exactly that when she collided with a bike being ridden by 46-year old James Laing of West Hills; earlier reports indicated the then-unidentified victim was 30 years old.

The Star reports that Whitmansegal was followed by witnesses to a nearby parking lot where she was arrested on charges of hit-and-run, vehicular manslaughter and driving under the influence.

My prayers and condolences go out to James Laing’s family, friends and loved ones.

And don’t ask me what I think about someone who could do something like this. I wouldn’t like the answer I’d give right now.

Then again, she may find the real punishment will be trying to live with herself after this.

Thanks to the Ventura County Star for following up as more information became available.

Update: A few other details are slowly coming in. According to the L.A. Times, both Laing and Whitmansegal were both traveling east on Agoura Hills Road.

Meanwhile, the Star reports that Laing struck the side of Whitmansegal’s car and was thrown onto the road. When the case goes to court, the defense will undoubtedly claim it was a SWSS and that Laing swerved into the car for no apparent reason; hopefully the witnesses who tracked the driver down saw what happened.

And the Agoura Hills Patch inexplicably identifies the driver as Stephanie Segal of Woodland Hills, despite a police report identifying the driver as Whitmansegal.

Update 2: Bob points us towards a report on KCBS-2 that identifies the driver as Stephanie Segal, and says she is currently being held on $250,000 bail. The Associated Press confirms that S. D. Whitmansegal is also known as Stephanie Segal.

Laing is the 13th cyclist killed in Southern California in the last five weeks, and the 13th since the beginning of August.


%d bloggers like this: