Morning Links: Murder charge for killer of Costa Mesa fire captain, Mehta hit-and-run hearing, and racing with a feeding tube

Let’s catch up with a few court cases.

Starting with the allegedly stoned killer of Costa Mesa Fire Captain Mike Kreza, courtesy of our anonymous courtroom correspondent.

Stephen Taylor Scarpa’s arraignment, scheduled for last Friday, was delayed again.

There are so many facets of this case that don’t look good for him: his status as an addict; his admission during interrogation that he should not have been driving; the amount and sheer number of drugs in his system; the presence in his vehicle of drugs obtained from an alleged overprescriber; his crash after “passing out” behind the wheel earlier in the year… etc.

He’s going down.

What perplexes me is the murder charge, because I can’t find any evidence of a prior DUI conviction — within LA or Orange County, at any rate. He could have priors elsewhere.

The Watson law is specific in its requirements: party has to be informed upon a DUI conviction of the possibility of a murder charge if said party kills someone while DUI.

So, this would mean, wouldn’t it, that Scarpa’s been convicted in some court at some point within the past 10 years?

A Watson advisement notwithstanding, PSA’s, American alcohol ads, and the DMV paperwork you sign before the state issues you a license all tell you that DUI is dangerous. But is that bombardment of facts enough to define malice, which is a required component of murder?

There’s one other thing that might convince a jury that Scarpa was aware of the dangers of DUI, enough so to convict of murder and not just manslaughter.

In 2011, as a student at Esperanza High, he participated in an Every Fifteen Minutes event, which is pretty comprehensive. In addition to pulling “dead” students out of classrooms every 15 minutes, a simulated collision is set up on campus, with the driver “arrested,” and moulaged “injured” & “dead” students extricated from the wreckage. These actors don’t go home that night; they’re sequestered overnight at a hotel, where they write a “Today I died” letter to their parents. (The parents also write to their dead kids.) The next day, these letters are read aloud at a school assembly.

Scarpa was one of the dead who was extricated from a mangled vehicle, who told his parents he died, who read this letter to his entire school.

I hope, every night before he falls asleep, he thinks of all the letters Mike Kreza never gets to write.

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Next up is yesterday’s hearing for the romance authorMedium contributor and Mercedes convertible driver convicted of a hit-and-run that left a Costa Mesa bike rider with a broken ankle.

Pratiti Renee Mehta is back from her vacation in Chowchilla Women’s Facility. She’s in custody in County, awaiting a court appearance this morning. I will be there, because I am a horrible person and will enjoy seeing her violent, unrepentant ass in saggy jail-issued fashion and shackles. The sentencing was in July, and I missed it. How it wasn’t  on my calendar, I dunno. (Busy week with the PAC on the 18th and the Caltrans D7 BAC on the 19th, but I wouldn’t have skipped the sentencing for anything.)

Due to a “clerical inadvertency,” Mehta had been sent up to state prison prior to a required sentencing assessment.

According to court records, on July 17th, the Defense’s request to reduce the felony hit-and-run count to a misdemeanor was denied, and then the judge sentenced Ms. Mehta to 3 years in state prison.

Two other things surprise me about the sentence: (1) The judge actually threw the book at her, wow. (2) The People didn’t request anything close.

That’s right, the People actually requested leniency: 90 days in County and an additional 200 hours of community service. For a woman who broke a guy’s bones, left him in the street, and then put in deliberate effort to lie to the cops about it. I remain furious that the ADW charge didn’t stick.

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Great piece about an 18-year old competitor in Saturday’s Hillclimb World Championships, who almost literally climbed out of her deathbed to become one of the top young American riders.

Hannah Jordan suffers from an unknown metabolic disorder that prevents her body from storing glucose; when she started on an intravenous formula from a Santa Barbara company, she began to thrive — and kick ass on her bicycle.

She’ll compete in Phil Gaimon’s hillclimb competition on Gibraltar Road with the feeding tube attached, then may train for international competition at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs CO.

And yes, her tube has been approved for competition.

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Four Boston kids were extremely lucky to avoid serious injury when someone drove directly into them as they stood with their bikes between two parked cars, then sped off with at least one of the bikes still stuck beneath the car; a man says the driver may have been his daughter.

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CiclaValley’s Zachary Rynew nearly gets impaled by someone’s pool cleaner.

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LA’s People for Mobility Justice needs your support for this year’s fundraiser.

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The war on cars may be a myth, but the war on bikes just keeps on going.

An English bicyclist warned other riders to stop if a car pulls up next to them traveling at the same speed, after he was pushed off his bike by a passenger in a passing car.

Life is cheap in the UK, where a 70-year old driver got two and a half years behind bars for using his car as a weapon to intentionally run down a bike rider and flee the scene — then came back to take pictures of his victim lying broken and bleeding in the street.

But sometimes, it’s the people on two wheels behaving badly.

English police are looking for a hit-and-run bike rider who injured a woman getting out of a car when they collided as he was riding illegally on the sidewalk.

There’s a special place in hell for a Japanese man who rode his bike up from behind a bike-riding 17-year old girl and groped her breast as he rode past, telling police he just couldn’t control his lust for her. Which should be read as a confession from a total asshole.

Police in New York are investigating an apparent hate crime, after a man on a bicycle allegedly slapped a pedestrian in the face and called him “a dirty Jew.”

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Local

South Central bike riders marked the seventh anniversary of the still-unsolved hit-and-run death of Benjamin Torres as he was riding his bike to work in Gardena. I hope whoever did it can live with the guilt of murdering another human being; I know I couldn’t.

Traditionally bike-unfriendly USC now has yellow-jacketed officers to encourage bike riders, skateboarders and scooter users to hop off before crossing the school’s Hahn Plaza, where they’re all banned.

Someone with a sense of humor offered a tongue-in-cheek response to traffic safety deniers Keep Pasadena Moving’s highly biased survey about streets and transportation in the Rose City. Thanks to Topher Mathers for forwarding today’s best laugh.

 

State

Republicans are complaining about funding from California’s recent gas tax increase going exactly where voters were told it would, with some funds going to transit and active transportation projects instead of being used strictly for road repairs.

Streetsblog says Gavin Newsom’s veto of the state’s Complete Streets bill stinks, and that Caltrans’ reasoning for fighting it is “hogwash.” Someone suggested that we should now call getting hit by driver on a Caltrans-controlled street “getting Newsomed,” just like we called a close pass “getting Jerry Browned” after he repeatedly vetoed the three-foot passing law.

Virgilio Lemus Garcia, the 60-year old victim in Sunday’s Santa Ana hit-and-run, remains in grave condition; police are looking for a dark blue mid-’90s, four-door Honda Civic with probable front end damage and a possible shattered windshield.

Caltrans unveiled plans for a bike lane paralleling I-5 through Encinitas; needless to say, some people — including one bike activist — weren’t pleased.

Apparently never having heard of induced demand, Caltrans will close San Diego’s Friars Road this weekend in preparation for adding a fourth lane in each direction, along with sidewalks and bike lanes. Hopefully, they’ll also consider how the hell pedestrians are supposed to cross that massive monstrosity.

Faux-Danish city Solvang has adopted a new bike plan; needless to say, some residents aren’t happy about it.

For once, bikes get an equal footing with cars. Even if it’s only a benefit show for a Los Gatos art museum. Thanks to Robert Leone for the link.

Sad news from San Jose, where a man died nearly three months after he and another man were hit while riding their bikes by a woman pulling out of a parking lot; the other man died at the scene. Seriously, how fast do you have to be driving to kill two people — let alone while exiting a parking lot?

It was the driver who lost his this time, after a San Jose motorist clipped a bike rider and crashed into a pole; the man on the bike was uninjured.

A San Francisco bike shop put a robot in charge of inventory so salespeople can spend more time with customers.

San Francisco’s Municipal Transportation Authority votes unanimously to ban cars from the city’s iconic Market Street. Proving that it can be done on this coast, too. Are you listening, Mayor Garcetti?

 

National

Apparently, it’s okay to be nuts for nuts. But don’t eat too many because they can cause kidney stones, as I learned the hard way.

A new survey from Lime says scooter users don’t want to ride on the sidewalks, but do it anyway because they don’t feel safe on the street. Which is exactly the same reason many bike riders do. And the answer isn’t threatening or ticketing them, it’s building more and better bike lanes.

Seriously? LifeHacker belatedly discovers CO2 cartridges and figures they’re some sort of tire-filling hack.

This is exactly what we need in Los Angeles. A Tucson bike mechanic has developed an interactive map of low-stress residential streets connected with signalized intersections. It’s easy to find relatively low-stress streets in LA; the hard part is putting together a route with traffic signals to get you across LA’s many multi-lane traffic sewers.

Denver is losing its combination cafe, bar and bike shop at the end of the month.

A Colorado woman is riding four days, 158 miles and 8,000 feet of climbing over a high mountain pass, with a man suffering from cerebral palsy in tow.

There’s a rift in Iowa’s long-running RAGBRAI ride, as the entire staff resigned to start a new, seven-day ride across the state, in anger over how the newspaper sponsoring RAGBRAI handled racist tweets by the beer sign guy who raised $3 million for a children’s hospital.

Kansas City’s mayor wants to rip out a new protected bike lane less than a month after it was installed, saying it’s made things very difficult for businesses and residents. Apparently, it must have been installed on a whim, without any studies, since he wants to remove it the same way; any change to a roadway requires time for people to adjust to it before you know how its going to work out.

That’s more like it. A Wisconsin man faces up to 15 years behind bars and another 10 years of extended supervision after accepting a plea in the DUI hit-and-run death of a bike rider.

I want to be like him when I grow up. An 89-year old White Plains NY man is back on his bike and preparing for his 20th annual 30-mile charity ride, just two years after heart surgery.

Queens bike riders complain about a terrifying, treacherous but critical route across the borough, after a man becomes just the latest bicyclist to be killed in New York; Streetsblog says if the city can’t protect a veteran rider like the man killed on Sunday, it can’t protect anyone.

A New York public advocate calls for a single unified plan to address bike lanes, homeless shelters and affordable housing, rather than uncoordinated plans for each.

Blackish star Tracee Ellis Ross is one of us, as she takes a bikeshare ride on Gotham streets in a dress and high heels.

A Philadelphia bicycle delivery worker says he stabbed a racist, road-raging driver in self-defense, after the other man threatened to “beat the black off” him, tackled him and lifted him up in the air; he faces a charge of voluntary manslaughter, a big reductio from the original charge of first-degree murder.

It’s no surprise that bicyclists are riding on Orlando, Florida walkways when there’s no safe place to ride on the streets. And no surprise the city is the nation’s most dangerous place for bike riders and pedestrians.

 

International

Wired calls the new Van Moof the ultimate ebike. Although it seems like what they really liked was the extra power from the boost button.

The London terrorist who intentionally drove at multiple bike riders, police officers and a pedestrian outside the British Parliament has been jailed for life.

An English thief got four years and three months for seriously injuring a bike rider on his way to church, while fleeing police after bungling a burglary.

The wife of an American diplomat — or maybe a spy — who claimed diplomatic immunity to flee the UK after the hit-and-run death of a young motorcyclist admits she was driving on the wrong side of the road, and wants to meet the man’s parents in New York to take responsibility for his death. But not, apparently, return to Britain to face charges.

A new British study shows a cheap, widely available drug could save hundreds of thousands of lives worldwide if given in the first few hours after a head injury; the medication, called tranexamic acid, costs the equivalent of less than $8 in the UK. Which means it will probably sell for a couple thousand dollars a dose in the US.

A woman in the UK says she overcame her crippling anxiety by learning to ride brakeless in a velodrome.

My favorite Scottish bike blogger goes riding in the City of Lights.

A pair of Afghan men rode their bikes 225 miles to call for peace in the war-torn country.

Two Indian brothers rode a tandem nearly 400 miles from Kolkata to Darjeeling, despite one having a leg crippled by polio since childhood.

 

Competitive Cycling

Legendary cyclist Eddy Merckx was in a Belgian ICU with a serious head injury he suffered in a fall while riding with friends on Sunday; the 74-year old, five-time Tour de France winner and noted bikemaker is considered by many to be the greatest rider of all time.

CyclingTips examines the cancellation of a WorldTour bike race through the gleaming towers of Hong Kong due to the protests in the troubled city. Is that enough to get this site blocked by Chinese censors, or do I have to try harder?

Bicycling says gravel is the new American road racing, while Cyclist says ‘cross may be the way to get more women into racing.

Next year’s Tour de France will feature all five of the country’s mountain ranges, as well as the shortest longest stage in Tour history.

Chris Froome could follow Greg LeMond in bouncing back from a life-threatening injury to win another Tour, especially if this year’s winner, Egan Bernal, agrees to support him in the race.

A 22-year old Australian driver has pled guilty to killing 23-year old pro cyclist Jason Lowndes while he was on training ride, after prosecutors dropped a distracted driving charge, accepting that she may have been using her phone moments prior to the crash, but not when she hit him.

 

Finally…

Fifty miles short of the goal, but still a wheelie long record. You may need your next e-scooter more than it needs you.

And it’s not a record jump if you don’t stick the landing.

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Thanks to John Hall for his generous donation to support this site, and help keep SoCal’s best bike news and advocacy coming your way (nearly) every day. 

I know I’ve said this before, but if everyone who visits this site today gave just $10, it would be enough to fund my work for a full year.

And maybe even get a new Corgi.

 

One comment

  1. The link to the parking lot wreck goes to a cyclist getting shot in the back while riding in B’more

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