Most of us who have followed this story from the beginning never thought this day would never come.
It was just less than two years ago that a car driven by an allegedly drunk and distracted Christine Dahab plowed through a group of cyclists stopped alongside a Culver City roadway, injuring 13 riders, some seriously.
The case took a turn for the worse almost immediately, as the initial, highly biased LAPD investigation blamed the victims for allegedly standing in the roadway — even though they were actually in the parking lane — and suggested that she could not have seen them there because of a blind curve that didn’t exist.
And some members of the media irresponsibly implied that the riders had been engaged in a drunken orgy, noting the presence of empty liquor bottles and condoms near the collision site. Yet failed to note the collision occurred near a popular lovers hangout or that the inflammatory items could have been there for days or weeks, let alone connect them to the riders in any way.
Meanwhile, some misguided motorheads applauded Dahab’s apparent efforts to decrease the excess cyclist population.
Fortunately, the Culver City Police Department took over the investigation after it was determined that the collision occurred just inside the CC city limits.
The CCPD investigators refused to give up on the case, even when it would have been far easier to follow the LAPD’s lead and let Dahab off the hook. Especially when many of the witnesses, some of whom may have been under-aged, were reluctant to come forward.
However, their painstaking investigation eventually led the L.A. District Attorney’s office to file felony charges of DUI causing injury and DWI with a BAC over .08 causing injury.
But in the 16 months since then, the case seemed to fall off the radar as a then-pregnant Dahab missed at least one court date, and other more recent and higher-profile cases took priority in the minds of local bicyclists.
Even I managed to forget the case was still ongoing as nothing appeared to take place.
But looks can be deceiving.
Frequent contributor Dj Wheels now reports that Dahab unexpectedly entered a guilty plea last week. And even more surprisingly, according to the cyclist and attorney, she did it without a plea deal in place, throwing herself on the mercy of the court.
On Tuesday, April 2, 2013, Christine Dahab entered a plea of no contest to all counts. She has pled “open to the court,” meaning she didn’t bargain for a lesser sentence but rather will ask for leniency from the Judge directly based on a diagnostic evaluation to be completed by the Dept. of Corrections while she is in custody.
She will surrender directly at a CA State prison on April 22, 2013.
She will remain in custody for the 90 day evaluation period, a report will be prepared by the Dept. of Corrections and sent to the Judge in Dept. D with its recommendations for sentencing.
April 22 is also on calendar as a probation/sentencing hearing, but they will probably just select a future date for the sentencing hearing which would have to be beyond the 90 day diagnostic period.
Victims will be notified of the actual sentencing date so that they can give their victim impact statements in court to the Judge to take into consideration when making his sentencing order.
So even if Dahab is released at the of her evaluation, she will have spent at least 90 days in custody — more than many drivers receive in fatal collisions.
And depending on the results, she could face considerably more.
Not bad for a case almost no one outside the cycling community, including the driver herself, seemed to take very seriously.
Thanks to Dj Wheels for the heads-up. And to the CCPD and DA’s office for fighting for a conviction few of us expected.
The Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition wants your help to keep the Spring Street green lanes green in light of continued
ridiculous attacks from some in Hollywood who value their locations and free parking more than your safety.
Meanwhile, a bilingual newspaper group bizarrely fears bike lanes on York Boulevard could fuel a violent bikelash against bike riders.
BOLO Alert: Be on the lookout for a stolen black and white Cannondale SuperSix taken near Silverlake around 4 Sunday afternoon.
KCRW traffic maven Kajon Cermak discusses the effects of L.A.’s newly synchronized traffic signals; seems like if I get stopped at one light on my bike, I get stopped at all of them. Rumors are L.A. will soon merge the Department of Planning with Building and Safety. Not surprisingly, Los Angeles leads the nation in traffic congestion. The proposal for a $3 billion bond issue to fix L.A. streets is back; as I said before, as far as I’m concerned, it’s dead in the water unless it includes a provision for speeding up Complete Streets and fixing our broken sidewalks. The Emerald Necklace plan proposes 16 park and bike path projects along the Rio Hondo and San Gabriel rivers, while writer for the San Gabriel Valley Tribune says only CEQA can make a project like that sound bad; thanks to BikeSGV and Megan Lynch for the heads-up. Better Bike says take your money somewhere else as the Biking Black Hole punts on promised bike racks. Cycling in the South Bay writes beautifully about early morning rides on the city’s deserted streets. Santa Monica will host its first Kidical Mass this Saturday.
Peace activist Cindy Sheehan is biking cross country for her Tour de Peace, with stops in Santa Monica and Claremont on Sunday. New sharrows hit the road in Redlands. San Diego is slowly becoming more bike-friendly. Cyclelicious lists hearing dates for bike-related bills in this year’s legislature, while Calbike shares their 2013 legislative agenda; I don’t see the third attempt at a three-foot law anywhere on their list. A Salinas hit-and-run driver is under arrest after striking a man riding a child’s bike. A San Jose man is sentenced to a well-deserved 41 years in prison for killing two men and injuring another in a road rage assault; thanks to Ralph Durham for the link.
As any cyclist could tell you, bans on using hand-held cell phones or texting while driving aren’t working; an estimated 660,000 Americans use their cell phones while driving every day. Too many drivers don’t look for pedestrians — or bicyclists — when they turn left. Legendary 1920s baseball commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis dropped out of high school to take up bike racing. People for Bikes discusses what to wear, or not, while riding, while an Oregon writer debates the need for underwear under bike shorts; kind of defeats the purpose of a good chamois, mais non? An Oregonian takes up bike commuting in response to rising gas prices. Seattle’s Department of DIY installs their own protected bike lane. An Anchorage man completes the 2,000 mile Iron Dog sled dog trail in 40 days on a fat tire bike. A South Dakota man tragically demonstrates the risks of off-road mountain biking. A Galveston driver gets a well-deserved 10-year sentence for fleeing the scene after killing a cyclist, even though the rider reportedly ran a stop sign. A Dallas councilmember suggests repealing the city’s mandatory helmet law to encourage bicycling. This Louisiana tour sounds like about as much fun as you can have on a bike. A Wisconsin legislator want to legalize some cases of drunken bike riding to allow pedal pub crawls. A Minneapolis cyclist survives an attack with a Molotov cocktail. If you’re carrying a loaded .38 with an outstanding New York warrant, don’t ride on the damn sidewalk, already.
A Vancouver writer looks into mandatory helmet laws, and changes his mind. In a horrible collision, a Montreal cyclist falls under a truck after hitting a stopped car, then is killed when the light changes and the truck pulls forward. Four in 10 Brits now ride bikes, including one out of every two men and over half of Londoners. The London Times corrects seven common bicycling myths. A UK council votes to remove a ghost bike three years after the victim is killed. Yet another British bike racer has been hit by a car while riding; this time, its gold medalist Joanna Rowsell. A Liverpool pedestrian dies a day after a collision with a bicyclist, after deciding not to wait to see an emergency room doctor. A Cambridge bike rider nearly has his belongings seized after he’s mistakenly fined the equivalent of over $1,000 for riding without lights. Eddie Merckx Cycles promises to advance bicycle design by investigating bike stability and possibly put an end to death wobbles. A young American cyclist gets a last-minute call to ride in Sunday’s Paris-Roubaix, won by Fabian Cancellara in a sprint over 24-year old Sep Vanmarcke. Spanish cycling legend Miguel Poblet passes away at 85; he was the first España rider to wear the yellow jersey. Women cyclists dread Aussie roads, while an Australian woman calls for more riders in dresses and heels; thank goodness I’ve got the legs for it. Canberra cyclists have doubled in numbers over the last nine years, while Adelaide cycling is up 10% over the last year after increasing 20% the year before. Yes, there should be fewer cyclists in Lycra, but only because there should be more cyclists wearing anything they please; couldn’t have said it better myself. Earthquake damaged Christchurch plans to rebuild with Copenhagen-style separated bikeways.
Finally, a bike riding Korean War chaplain is awarded a posthumous Medal of Honor, and may be considered for sainthood. And a Brooklyn writer offers advice to motorists on how to stop hitting him with their cars.