This time there’s no question.
The victim was riding in the bike lane on northbound PCH when he was rundown from behind by the driver of a white Lexus while approaching Crown Valley Parkway around 3 pm Wednesday.
The force of the impact tossed the victim into the intersection. The driver made a U-turn, got out out of his car, then stabbed the victim as they lay injured on the ground.
The victim, who hasn’t been identified, was rushed to a nearby hospital, and died around 5:52 pm.
The driver was arrested at the scene.
Police are unsure if the driver knew the victim, but suspect the initial impact was a deliberate act.
The stabbing definitely was.
There’s no word yet on the charges, but the driver should face a felony murder count.
This is at least the seventh bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the second that I’m aware of in Orange County.
It’s also the first one that’s clearly intentional.
Update: Security cam video clearly captured the collision, showing the driver appear to run a red light to slam into the victim.
The stabbing doesn’t appear to be visible, but be forewarned the crash is very graphic. You may want to think twice before clicking on the link.
Update 2: Gut-wrenching doesn’t begin to describe this very public murder.
The Orange County Sheriff’s Department has identified the victim as 58-year old Michael John Mammone, an emergency physician with Providence Mission Hospital in Laguna Beach — likely the same hospital where he spent the last moments of his life, as doctors worked feverishly to save him.
His killer was named as 39-year old Vanroy Evan Smith.
According the sheriff’s department, there’s no answer yet as to why Smith murdered Mammone in the middle of a busy Orange County intersection.
At this time, there is no known connection between the suspect and the victim. Investigators will work to determine what led to this incident. This incident is being investigated by the Orange County Sheriff’s Department Homicide Detail.
If you have any information related to this crime, please contact the Orange County Sheriff’s Department at 714-288-6740. Anonymous information may be provided through Orange County Crime Stoppers at 1-855-TIP-OCCS.
The Laguna Beach Independent reports the knife was recovered at the scene.
A news story from Fox11 indicates Smith stabbed Mammone at least once in the back, then pulled out a gun and fired several shots before he was disarmed by witnesses; no word on whether anyone was struck by the bullets or if the weapon was recovered.
The station also posted photos of Mammone’s killer, somehow obtained from a Long Beach law firm.
The report from Fox11 also included this statement from the hospital where Mammone worked:
The hospital released the following statement saying, “We are stunned by this devastating tragedy. The entire Mission Hospital family is grieving over the loss of an incredible physician and friend. We will honor Dr. Mammone’s dedication to our community and passion for medicine by continuing to provide exceptional care.”
Update 3: As expected, the Orange County District Attorney’s office has charged Smith with murder, along with a felony enhancement of the personal use of a knife.
He faces a maximum sentence of 25 years to life, plus one year. Which apparently means if he dies in prison, they’ll keep him propped up in his cell for another year.
Smith pled not guilty to the charges, also as expected; he’s currently being held on $1 million bail.
However, there’s no mention of a gun in the DA’s press release, which calls into question reports on Fox News that he fired multiple rounds after the stabbing.
The DA added this statement in the press release:
“An innocent man is dead because he took a bike ride to enjoy a beautiful California day along the beach and he was hit with a car and stabbed to death by someone he apparently never met,” said Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer. “The murder of a complete stranger in broad daylight for what appears to be absolutely no reason is the stuff of nightmares. This unspeakable act of violence will forever haunt those who were forced to witness it and it will forever haunt all of those who loved Dr. Mammone.”
Meanwhile, a comment from MamieMTB clarified that Mammone was likely taken to the trauma center at Mission Hospital in Laguna Beach.
LAist compares the incident to the infamous Mandeville Canyon case, in which road raging Dr. Christopher Thompson was convicted of brake-checking three bicyclists, seriously injuring two.
However, we should be careful at this point, because there is nothing yet to indicate this was a case of road rage, even though that is one of the most likely explanations.
There could have been some yet-unknown connection between the two, or it could have been a completely random incident.
My deepest sympathy and prayers for Michael John Mammone and all his loved ones.
Thanks to mcderpy87, Victor Bale, Phillip Young, Edward Rubinstein and Marcello Calicchio for the heads-up.
Photo by Kindel Media from Pexels.