The definition of tragedy

I remember reading a short story years ago, back when I was still in grade school.

I couldn’t tell you now who wrote it, or even what it was called, just that it was about a detective investigating the death of someone killed in a hit-and-run collision.

But it must have made quite an impact.

The reason it stuck with me all these years was that he hated cases like that, because he knew he wouldn’t find a homicidal monster at the end of the case. Just a scared person who ruined two lives in a single irrevocable act.

I was thinking about that today because, as promised, Danny attended this morning’s arraignment of Robert Sam Sanchez, the driver charged with killing Rod Armas and critically injuring his 14-year old son in a drunken hit-and-run collision during the June Grand Tour Double Century.

Here’s what he had to report:

Sanchez pled NOT GUILTY to all charges and denied all affirmative allegations in the criminal complaint.

Criminal Counts:

1)Cal. Penal Code 191.5(a) – gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated

2)Cal. Vehicle Code 23152(a) – driving under the influence

3)Cal. Vehicle Code 20001(a) – failure to stop after an accident involving an injury

Preliminary Hearing is set for Tuesday, Sept. 15 @ 8:30 am in Dept. 1 at the Malibu Courthouse.

A group of 10 people, mostly family I believe, were there in support of Robert S. Sanchez.  They all seemed concerned and a little new to the criminal process and courthouse setting.  Sanchez appeared calm and clean cut, wearing a dark suit.  Nothing about his appearance or his family really compelled me to form a negative opinion about him.  He did not speak at all during the arraignment.  His attorney James Armstrong spoke on his behalf.  At the end of the hearing as Sanchez and his attorney were walking out,  Judge Lawrence Mira asked the district attorney what the blood alcohol level was.  The D.A. responded, “.05, but that was about 5 hours later.”

I was a little troubled by that.  Why the hell would it take the Sheriff 5 hours to get a breathalyzer test from this guy?  It’s not like this happened in downtown L.A. or Hollywood where there is a line of drunks backed up at the station waiting to get their breath tested.

I have to admit, I share Danny’s concern about the long-delayed blood alcohol test. Maybe someone out there can explain why there was such a long delay in administering the test to Sanchez, and what effect, if any, that could have on his trial.

In addition, Danny later went down to the criminal courthouse in Downtown L.A., to gather information about the trial of Alejandro Hidalgo, the driver charged with killing Jesus Castillo in another DUI collision, this time in Echo Park:

Later in the afternoon, I took a trip to the Downtown L.A criminal courthouse.  The clerk’s office filled me on the details in this case.

Arraignment took place May 15, 2009.  The clerk seemed a little confused about the plea, but she “thinks” it was a NOT GUILTY plea.


1)Cal. Penal Code 191.5(a) – gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated

2)Cal. Vehicle Code 23152(a) – driving under the influence

3)Cal. Vehicle Code 23152(b) – driving under the influence with a B.A.C. over .08

Preliminary Hearing is set for Friday, August 28, 2009 @ 8:30 am in Dept. 35 at the Downtown L.A. criminal courthouse (Clara Foltz Criminal Justice Center).

This one also made me wonder. Why the hell wasn’t a hit and run charge added?  I thought there was a witness that saw it all happen and followed the car to get the plates.

Similar cases at first glance, but we’ll see if there are similar results.

Once again, a good question. Why wasn’t Hidalgo charged with leaving the scene? And was that 5-hour delay the reason Sanchez wasn’t charged with having a BAC over .08, as Hidalgo was?

Two cyclists are dead, another seriously injured. Their families face a lifetime of loss, a hole in their lives that can never be filled.

Meanwhile, two drivers face years of imprisonment, their lives forever ruined.

Because they each got behind the wheel after drinking.

Took the life of a total stranger.

And ran.


Will introduces the world to his sort-of-new bike, 8-Ball. Russ and Laura offer striking photos from their journey through the Northwest, and relate a visit from a formerly cycling Father Time. Bicycle Fixation offers a solution to the problem of what to do with your helmet when you lock up your bike. The Tucson Bike Lawyer goes head over handlebars on a Colorado mountain bike run, but fares better than some of the others. A Florida cyclist is killed in a hit-and-run, after losing his own license for a DUI. A Wisconsin legislator injured a cyclist after running a red light. Finally, while we struggle to get — and keep — a patch of paint on Reseda, Copenhagen gets bicycle superhighways.


  1. Danny says:

    Ted, since the D.A. didn’t specify what kind of chemical test was administered, I assumed it was a breath test. However, if Sanchez chose the blood test instead, then this might explain the delay.

    A qualified technician has to administer the blood exam. Unfortunately, sometimes it takes a while to get a technician to a station to administer the exam.

    Another sad reality in drunk driving investigations. A wise drunk driving suspect always chooses the blood test because by the time they get you to the station, contact a technician, draw your blood, test it and determine the results, your b.a.c. could have dropped below the legal limit of .08 under CVC 23152(b).

  2. concerned says:

    I just wanted to comment on Robert Sam Sanchez. I know him personally. He has no record. He has worked for the City of Malibu and Ventura. He is educated. Not illegal hispanic as commenters have stated on other blogs. He was born here. I am deeply saddend for the family and I hold no sympathy for Roberts actions. He made a fatal judgement error. He has no priors. His career and life in forever changes as expected with his family. The Armas family will never recover only adjust. No one ever gets over death as I know in my own situation. I just had to put this out. No sides taken. Just a comment.

  3. […] Last Thursday "DJ Wheels" spent his day attending the arraignment of Robert Sanchez, the driver accused of killing Rod Armas and his fourteen year old son at the end of the L.A. Wheelman's June Gr… and then pedaling downtown to get an update on the trial of Alejandro Hidalgo, the driver accused […]

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