Archive for Bikes & the Law

Justice grinds slowly in SoCal bike cases, reward in previously unknown hit-and-run, and DUI driver injures man on bike path

It’s been awhile since we’ve heard from our anonymous legal correspondent.

She’s back today with a long list of cases that are slowly working their way through the court system.

Along with a few killer drivers scheduled to get out from behind bars too damn soon.

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Mariah Kandise Banks, charged in the hit-and-run death of Frederick “Woon” Frazier, has yet another prelim reset date coming up on July 13th. This case is just so long and drawn out, and meanwhile, Banks continues to drive and has not ceased her harassment of Woon’s family, in violation of Judge Hobbs’ repeated reminders,

On April 10th, I attended a group march from Woon’s mama’s house to the site of his slaughter, where a new ghost bike was installed. It is really horrible to have to see his mama right there at the scene where a stranger held her son as he died.

In speaking to our group, she told us all she was thankful that so many people showed up and are still fighting to make things safer.

The DA’s office has not been very communicative. I feel that the DA’s office is in violation Marsy’s Law. My understanding is that the clerk has even outright hung up on Miz Beverly. I spoke with Edin (Chief Lunes) at the event, and suggested that perhaps a calm, independent liaison would be helpful in exchanging information. Naturally he volunteered. I spoke to Miz Beverly about this and I think it is a relief to her that she doesn’t have to pick up that phone herself to harangue the prosecutor, who’s really dropping the ball.

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On the subject of long, drawn-out cases, Justin Scott German has his next appearance date on August 18th for the alleged drunken hit-and-run death of 41-year-old Binh Ngo in Huntington Beach.

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Scuzzy Andrea Dorothy Chan Reyes, who told the mechanics who cleaned the blood off her dented car that she’d hit a dog, and subsequently fled to another continent, is eligible for parole in October. Yes, October 2021.

(Chan Reyes was sentenced to seven years just three months ago for the 2017 hit-and-run death of Agustin Rodriguez, after dragging Rodriguez the length of two football fields under her car as she sped away — then fleeing to Hong Kong and Australia in an ultimately vain attempt to avoid prosecution. Evidently, seven years doesn’t last as long as it used to.)

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I remain furious that Brandon James Lindsley only got 7 goddamn years for the hit-and-run death of Carla Becerra while illegally riding a motorcycle on the San Gabriel River Trail, but at least he’s not eligible for parole until… February 2023.

Becerra’s ghost bike is still there next to the river trail, so I added some flowers for her birthday a couple weeks ago.

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Unrelated to bikes, repeat drunk driver Maritza Joana Lara, who killed a dad on Father’s Day and critically injured four other people, then fled the scene on foot before her arrest in Mexico, will be eligible for parole in 2033.

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Stephen Taylor Scarpa, who left Costa Mesa Fire Captain Mike Kreza’s three little girls fatherless, is still set for a jury trial in August. Scarpa is charged with murder for allegedly driving while stoned when he killed Kreza as the popular firefighter was training for a triathlon while riding in Mission Viejo.

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Richard David Lavalle, charged with murder in the death of a 12-year-old autistic boy as he rode bikes with his dad in a Costa Mesa crosswalk, wants to fire his public defender. If this doesn’t happen, his prelim will likely proceed as scheduled September 21st.

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Robert Calvin Mata, who killed John Crouch at PCH & 1st in downtown Huntington Beach late last month, remains under investigation for DUI (drugs, not alcohol).

A commenter on your blog said that the crosswalk on the south side of that intersection had been removed, but I remember being surprised that one wasn’t intstalled after the new development went in, given the great increase in pedestrian activity it’s brought to that location.

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Ronald Earl Kenebrew, Jr., who was already locked up awaiting a court date on charges of robbery & indecent exposure, was arraigned yesterday on charges of murder, carjacking, and hit & run in the death of Branden Finley as he rode to the Ride For Black Lives in Downtown Los Angeles last year. The court website hasn’t been updated, so I dunno the outcome of his hearing.

LA Superior Court opens back up this week, and I’ll be there to do some digging into a backlog of cases.

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School teacher Molly Jane Hoene had a preliminary hearing scheduled for June 21st, and no further hearings scheduled as yet, but her bail still stands, so I don’t think the charges were dropped. Hoene was arrested for the 2019 hit-and-run death of a homeless bike rider in Silver Lake that was caught on security cam.

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Moises Iscaya, who fled the scene after killing South LA father Jorge Guerra on July 8th as he rode bikes home with his two kids last fall, is likely to be declared mentally incompetent to stand trial.

Investigators found Iscaya three months later, already in custody on multiple unrelated charges, including murder.

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Jared Walter Anderson, who allegedly squished the life out of scooter rider Evan Dyer Faram at Sunset & Vine in 2019, faces the judge again on July 15th.

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On a separate not, last month, on Friday, May 14th, I was waiting for the bus at Fig & Pico about 11am, and a ride rolled by… and rolled and rolled and rolled… I thought the river of bikes was never going to end. I honestly started wondering whether they had just looped a few blocks and were going around in a circle. A young man yelled an invitation, so I jumped in and followed a guy riding backwards for at least a half mile. To this day I still don’t know what this ride was!!!!! All ages. Guys, gals. Fixie trash. Insta-girls. Geezers on trikes. BMX kids. Dogs in backpacks, dogs in baskets. Spandex, cargo shorts, hot pants, and a skirt or two… everybody and all their neighbors. Just an amazing encounter. Los Angeles, 2021. Wow.

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The LAPD announced a $50,000 reward for the hit-and-run driver who killed Leo Dimeglio as he was riding his bicycle on eastbound Jefferson Blvd around 11:41 p.m on June 10th.

Unfortunately, this is the first we’ve heard of the fatal crash. It shouldn’t take nearly three weeks for the police to inform the public that an innocent person has been killed. Let alone ask for our help in apprehending a heartless, cowardly, killer driver.

I’ll have a more detailed story later today.

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Once again, a driver has gotten onto a supposedly carfree bike trail — this time with tragic results.

An alleged drunk driver somehow got onto Sacramento’s popular American River Parkway and slammed into the Sacramento Wheelmen group ride, leaving one rider in critical condition with severe injuries.

Let’s hope the victim makes a fast and full recovery, and that they secure the trail to keep it from ever happening again.

And that the driver is never again allowed behind the wheel.

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

A Boston man is under arrest for slashing a food delivery rider on the arm with an “industrial-style pocket knife” in an apparent random attack. The victim was treated at the scene but refused further medical attention.

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

San Francisco police are offering a $25,000 reward for the 2016 fatal shooting of a man in the Tenderloin District; a security cam captured an image of the suspect riding on the handlebars of another man’s bike; the bike rider has been cleared, but the shooter is still at large.

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Local

For the first time since the 1980s, Los Angeles doesn’t has the worst traffic in the US. The Los Angeles/Long Beach/Anaheim region was number two last year, behind the New York-Newark area. Which, oddly, is exactly what it feels like to ride a bike here.

Progressive news site Knock LA looks at the fight to form a union representing Metro Bike workers, who don’t actually work for Metro.

The new state budget includes $4.3 million in funding for a proposed walking path along the San Gabriel River.

 

State

Streetsblog offers an update on key issues that passed out of the Senate Transportation Committee yesterday, including a bill allowing bike riders to treat stop signs as yields, a bill legalizing jaywalking, and a third allowing cameras on buses to capture bus lane violations. So we can have cameras on buses, but no speed cams in school zones. Got it.

San Diego safety advocates are calling for drivers to pay attention after the recent rash of bike deaths in the county.

A San Luis Obispo paper say the transportation bill currently taking shape in the US House — as opposed to the recently announced bipartisan bill — contains $20 million for transportation projects in SLO and Santa Barbara counties, including a bike path connecting Morro Bay and Cayucos.

San Francisco Streetsblog calls out a deadly combination of reckless driving and unsafe street design for the needless death of a man riding his bike home from work in Hayworth last week.

 

National

Bike lawyer Bob Mionske examines the safety and legalities of modern roundabouts.

The Christian Science Monitor questions whether America even knows how to do infrastructure anymore.

They get it. The county surrounding Boise, Idaho is suddenly a national leader in protecting bike riders, committing to install protected bike lanes whenever they resurface any of the most dangerous multilane roadways in the region. Maybe the newly bike-friendly Caltrans can follow their lead. Let alone the ostensibly progressive LADOT.

Visions of cowboys on scooters, as e-scooters hit the streets of Cheyenne, Wyoming just in time for the Cheyenne Frontier Days rodeo.

Sioux Falls, South Dakota is expanding its 35-mile network of bike trails to serve the area’s one million annual users.

A Minnesota bike rider calls on drivers to look out for people on bicycles after he was nearly run down while riding in a crosswalk with his girlfriend while crossing with the walk signal.

The carnage continues in New York, where a 71-year old man was killed when he was stuck by a postal truck in an apparent right hook.

A New York county approves its own three-foot passing law after concluding bike riders need more protection than the state’s “safe distance” passing rule.

That’s more like it. A University of Pennsylvania cop goes viral for her friendly interaction with an Instagram star, as she and her partner join him in passing out sandwiches after initially responding to a call of bike riders blocking the sidewalk.

The DC bike community is in mourning after 61-year-old Jay Moglia died of a massive heart attack while leading a group ride last Saturday; the former bike messenger, racer and cycling trainer was a renowned figure in the Washington area.

 

International

Treehugger rates the year’s best ebike conversion kits.

Pink Bike takes a spin on Earthbound’s high pivot bamboo-frame enduro bike. And likes it.

A British Columbia man questions whether the motorcyclist who ran down his bicycle-riding mother caught a break because authorities thought he was a “nice” and “decent” man.

A Clinton, Ontario website looks back to the “Victorian age of muscular Christianity,” when a group of itinerant American clergymen rode into town on their Penny Farthings under the banner of the newly formed American Wheelmen.

He gets it, too. A Montreal writer questions whether an accident waiting to happen that puts children, bike riders and pedestrians at risk is still an accident.

A British transport minister says no, there is no chance bike riders will be required to wear license numbers, regardless of the demands of “Mr. Loophole,” a lawyer who specializes in getting wealthy drivers off the hook.

Okay, so they weren’t on a bicycle. It’s still worth mentioning two Indian men sharing a motorcycle who escaped a charging leopard by feeding him cake. Although something tells me the big cat will be waiting to blow to the candles when they come back.

A new Australian study hopes to determine whether “excessive” recreational riding leads to heart problems in non-elite bicyclists.

 

Competitive Cycling

Spoiler alert: Skip this section if you still have yesterday’s stage of the Tour de France in your viewing queue. Still here? The news that aging Mark Cavendish won his first stage of the Tour de France in six years is just to big to hide behind a spoiler-free link; the win leaves the sprinter just three victories behind The Cannibal’s record of 34 Tour stage wins.

The entire peloton stepped off their bikes for a silent protest at the start of yesterday’s stage to call attention to the dangerous conditions that have led to a rash of crashes in this year’s Tour, arguing that someone could be killed next time.

The woman who caused a massive crash with her sign in the first stage of the Tour has disappeared after fleeing France to parts unknown.

Now you, too, can wear the same kit as LA’s own L39ION of Los Angeles cycling team.

 

Finally…

A driver cuts out the middleman and runs down bikes before they even leave the shop. Nothing will test your relationship like riding 3,700 miles on a tandem.

And that’s one way to do a multimodal commute.

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Be safe, and stay healthy. And get vaccinated, already.

Man killed riding bike in South LA hit-and-run Wednesday night; 7th fatal bicycling hit-and-run this year

Once again, a heartless hit-and-run coward left an innocent person to die on the street.

And once again, there’s a $50,000 reward to bring the killer to justice.

According to KTLA-5, the victim was run down around 9:15 pm Wednesday as he was riding Main Street, just north of 120th Street, in the Broadway-Manchester neighborhood of South LA.

He was taken to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead. He was described only as male, which could be an indication that police weren’t able to immediately identify him.

The driver continued north on Main without stopping; the suspect vehicle is described only as a dark-colored sedan.

There’s no other information available at this time. No word on how the crash happened, or whether the victim had lights on after dark.

Or if the driver did, for that matter.

Anyone with information is urged to call LAPD Detective Flannery or Officer Mitchell at 323/421-2500.

As always, there is a standing $50,000 reward for any fatal hit-and-run in Los Angeles, despite mention of just half that amount in the KTLA report.

This is at least the 59th bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the 16th that I’m aware of in Los Angeles County.

At least seven of those deaths in LA County have been hit-and-runs.

My deepest sympathy and prayers for the victim and his love ones.

Wicksted gets 16-years for intentional killing of Claremont bike rider, and popular wheel light maker goes belly up

Sixteen years.

That’s the price a Claremont woman will pay for running down and murdering a bike-riding stranger with her car.

Sixty-three-year old Sandra Marie Wicksted agreed to a deal to plead no contest after prosecutors took a murder charge off the table for intentionally running down 54-year old Leslie Pray as she was riding her bike in Claremont two years ago.

She was also charged with swerving her car at two other people riding bikes in separate incidents before slamming into Pray.

Wicksted copped to one count each of voluntary manslaughter and assault with a deadly weapon, along with two counts of attempted murder.

What remains unanswered, however, is the most basic question of all.

Why?

What could possibly have convinced Wicksted to try to kill not one, not two, but three total strangers for no other reason than they were riding bicycles?

We’ll probably never know.

But now an innocent woman is dead because of it.

And Wicksted has thrown away what’s left of her own life.

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Sad news from popular wheel light maker MonkeyLetric, which is closing out its remaining inventory and going out of business, at least for the foreseeable future.

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Local

A 20-year old man was hospitalized after a driver hit his bike while riding in Canyon Country; no word on the victim’s condition.

This is who we share the road with. A new lawsuit accuses an LA County sheriff’s deputy of drunk driving and street racing in the Torrance crash that killed a 23-year old passenger in his car.

 

State

San Diego adopts a new Complete Communities plan, including fees for developers in the city’s most car-dependent areas, which will be used to build bike and pedestrian projects in denser urban areas.

San Jose wants to know how residents want to get around in the years to come.

Palo Alto will keep two key streets carfree through next May.

Yes, please. A proposal before San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors would make it harder to delay projects by filing an appeal under California’s CEQA air quality laws, a process that has been abused in recent years to halt bikeways and transit projects.

Streetsblog San Francisco’s Roger Rudick argues the city has abandoned Vision Zero in its cost-saving cutbacks to the Better Market Street project, suggesting it should now be renamed Bummer Market Street.

 

National

GQ recommends the best bike gear for “persnickety” bicycle riders caught up in the pandemic bike boom. Meanwhile, Gear Patrol says these bikes and accessories prove the future is now.

Next time you’re in Seattle, hop the ferry to the Bainbridge Island Cycle Museum, where you can see exhibits like a rare three-wheeled lawnmower bike and a signed yellow jersey worn by He Who Must Not Be Named.

Maybe there’s hope for LA bike riders yet, after Chicago finally opened a new bike and pedestrian bridge 15 years after it was blocked by a city alderman.

Speaking of Chicago, a local magazine considers former mayor Rahm Emanuel’s prospects for serving as US transportation secretary.

An Ohio man was convicted of aggravated vehicular homicide for the distracted driving death of a prominent lawyer who was riding his bike, while the driver was high on opiates.

The bike-riding Virginia woman who was elected county supervisor after flipping off Trump’s motorcade says it’s time to heal now that Joe Biden has been elected president; needless to say, not everyone agrees.

 

International

A Colombian college student was knocked off his bike and severely beaten by thieves when he chose to avoid traffic by riding a bike path through a dark tunnel known locally as “the tunnel of death” for its high crime rate.

A London bait bike leads police to a stash of 60 stolen bikes with individual values as high as $6,600.

British bikemaker Dawes tells its popular Galaxy touring bikes to hit the road after 49 years.

An essential worker in the UK had his bike replaced by a kindhearted stranger after it was stolen while he was working.

Dutch ebike maker VanMoof agrees to hobble their bikes in the European Union, where ebikes are restricted to 15 mph, rather than the 20 mph limit allowed in the US.

Now that’s more like it. A new Spanish law will restrict speed limits to 18 mph in urban areas, and just 12 mph in spaces shared with bike riders and pedestrians.

The bike boom has hit Indonesia, as well, as residents share their experiences riding in the age of Covid-19.

Join the club. A third of New Zealanders think drivers are going too fast on their streets.

 

Competitive Cycling

Primož Roglič’s victory in the Vuelta has pulled it out at the wire, beating Tour de France champ and fellow Slovenian Tadej Pogačar for the #1 spot in the UCI World Ranking for 2020, while Anna van der Breggen topped the women’s list. No American made the top ten on either list.

American world time trial champ Chloe Dygert says she’ll do whatever it takes to heal in time for next year’s Tokyo Olympics after suffering a horrific gash to her left quad that severed 80% of the muscle. She’ll be riding for the Canyon-SRAM women’s team next year.

Cycling Weekly recalls ten unforgettable moments of the 2020 cycling season.

 

Finally…

Seriously, just slow the hell down around slower or less experienced bicyclists and pedestrians. Never a good idea to punch a traffic cop, even if they did just door you.

And probably not the best idea to have your six-year old daughter act as lookout before making a bike-borne escape from a shoplifting spree.

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Be safe, and stay healthy. And wear a mask, already. 

Update: Man killed riding his bike in early morning Long Beach hit-and-run; 3rd LA County bike rider killed in hit-and-run in 4 days

It’s not an epidemic anymore.

It’s a SoCal pandemic.

According to multiple sources, yet another Southern California bike rider lost his life early Sunday morning.

And yet another heartless coward fled the scene, leaving an innocent victim to die in the street.

The Long Beach Police Department reports the victim, who hasn’t been publicly identified, was riding south on Orange Ave, north of Del Amo Blvd, when he was run down from behind by a southbound driver around 3:20 am.

Despite the efforts of paramedics, he died at the scene, his body coming to rest in the bike lane he was most likely riding in.

There’s no information about the driver or the suspect vehicle at this time.

Anyone with information is urged to contact Detective Kelsey Myers or Detective Shawn Loughlin of the LBPD Collision Investigation Detail at 562/570-7355.

This is at least the 36th bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the eighth that I’m aware of in Los Angeles County; it’s also the third fatal bicycling hit-and-run in the county in four days.

Exactly one third of those SoCal bike deaths have involved hit-and-run drivers, including five in less than the last two weeks, and eight in the past two months as more people have begun driving again.

This has got to stop.

Now.

Update: The victim has been identified as 30-year old Long Beach resident Dannon Santiago.

My deepest sympathy and prayers for Dannon Santiago and his loved ones.

37-year old father killed riding bike in South Los Angeles hit-and-run; once again, public not informed for weeks

Once again, a man has died following a violent hit-and-run while riding his bike in South Los Angeles.

And once again, the LAPD doesn’t seem to think the public needed to know about it.

According to KCBS-2/KCAL-9, 37-year old South LA resident Jorge Guerra was struck by a hit-and-run driver while riding home from the park with his two young children on July 8th.

Fortunately, his two-year old son Nathan and four-year old daughter Madelyn weren’t seriously injured; their father wasn’t so lucky.

Guerra was rushed to Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, but lapsed into a coma after arriving; he died of organ failure on July 16th.

The LAPD places the crash on northbound Wadsworth Ave north of 88th Street at 8:40 pm, when a speeding driver slammed into the bike they were riding after turning onto the narrow residential street.

The driver continued north on Wadsworth, crashing into several parked cars before stopping just south of Manchester Blvd. He ran off, leaving the damaged car behind.

Police are still looking for the suspect, who hasn’t been identified; unsurprisingly, the car he was driving was stolen. As always, there is a standing $50,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the driver.

Now Guerra’s wife is faced with raising her kids as a grieving single mother while in the middle of a pandemic.

A crowdfunding campaign to help defray Guerra’s funeral expenses has raised just under $6,000, far short of the $25,000 goal.

Unfortunately, like the death of Melvin “Peanut” Frye last month, the LAPD apparently failed to inform the public at the time of the crash — or alert them to a dangerous car thief hiding in their midst. Even though both Los Angeles and California have Yellow Alert systems to get the word out as quickly as possible.

There’s no explanation for why the LAPD continually refuses to use them; evidently, they’d rather wait until the trail goes cold and people have forgotten key details before asking for their help. Which could be one reason why hit-and-run drivers continue to get away with it here.

Even though similar systems have been used successfully in other cities to bring hit-and-run drivers to justice.

This is at least the 35th bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the seventh that I’m aware of in Los Angeles County. Over half of those deaths in the county have been hit-and-runs.

My deepest sympathy and prayers for Jorge Guerra and all his family and loved ones.

Update: Mountain biker killed in Escondido hit-and-run; victim hit head-on during group ride

Yet another SoCal bike rider has lost his life to a hit-and-run driver.

According to multiple sources, the victim was struck by a driver at 11:52 Saturday morning on the 1600 block of La Honda Drive, just below the entrance to the Daley Ranch Recreation Area.

Reports indicated he was headed south on the narrow street with a group of other riders when he was hit head-on by the driver of a dark colored Toyota sedan, who continued without stopping.

The victim, identified only as a 36-year old Vista resident, died at the scene before rescuers could arrive.

Police later found the heavily damaged car abandoned half a mile away, on the 600 block of Aster Street.

They note the victim was wearing a helmet; clearly, it was not enough to save his life.

Meanwhile, the San Diego Union-Tribune absurdly reports that police don’t know if the driver was under the influence. Which is probably true, considering they don’t even know who was behind the wheel.

Anyone with information is urged to call Officer Adan Martinez of the Escondido Police Department at 760/839-4465.

This is at least the 68th bicycling fatality in Southern California this year; remarkably, it appears to be just the third in San Diego County.

It’s also the 23rd fatal hit-and-run I’m aware of involving a bike rider since the first of this year.

Update: The victim has been identified as 36-year old Vista resident Kevin Lentz; the former mountain bike racer leaves behind his wife and one-year old son.

The driver reportedly was traveling at a high rate of speed on the wrong side of the road, after rounding a blind curve.

A crowdfunding page has raised nearly $52,000 in just one day.

My deepest sympathy and prayers for Kevin Lentz and his family and loved ones.

Thanks to Phillip Young for the heads-up.

Guest Post: Hit-and-run driver Mehta walks despite showing no remorse, plus updates on other recent stories

We’re going to give our anonymous courtroom correspondent her own platform today.

Starting with an update in the case of 34-year old Medium contributor and author Pratiti Renee Mehta, who was re-sentenced for last year’s hit-and-run that left a bike rider seriously injured.

And yet another reminder of why people keep dying on our streets.

Two years.

Suspended, of course. ‘Cause she’s learned her lesson.

Upon her July conviction for all counts, Judge Julan Baliley sentenced Mehta to 3 years in State Prison. She left for her Chowchilla vacation almost immediately and was bussed back for her re-sentencing last week.

His Honor informed her that he’d sent her up the river in the hope that exposure to the element that fills our prisons would allow her to reflect on the person she wished to be. She did just that, observing her ilk from what little distance she could keep in such close quarters. According to her diagnostic assessment, she was a “model inmate” who did not create any disruptions during her brief stay.

She was allowed to address the court, and, through tears, expressed regret that she was unable to be present with her family, who experienced two deaths during her absence. She stated that she never wishes to experience incarceration again.

It is telling that she did not state that she never wants to harm an innocent human being with her car ever again, nor did she express regret for the permanent injury inflicted on that “bum” (direct quote from the post-collision texts collected as evidence).

Yup, she intimated that prison was unpleasant for her, but she never once referenced the extensive medical bills, physical pain, PTSD, permanent scars, loss of income, and limp she inflicted on her victim. Not to mention damaging the Peugeot her victim had bought in 1984.

Mehta’s assessment by the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation psychologist  concludes that she is unlikely to reoffend. I agree, because she doesn’t wanna experience the hassle of mandatory court appearances, restitution, and incarceration. She won’t deliberately slam her Mercedes against another bum again, not because she gives a damn that others may suffer. Just because she might be affected by the repercussions, and it’s already been such a headache.

Frankly, Mehta lacks empathy. She’s not sorry for her victim; she’s just sorry she got caught.

Typically infuriating for these cases, she is required to sign away her Constitutionally protected right to possess firearms. Yet she is still allowed to drive. In fact, the Judge stated unambiguously that “I am taking no action against your driving privilege.” A driver who fails to use a turn signal will be sentenced to traffic school. But, gosh, all Mehta did was leave a guy lying in the street with his bone sticking out of his leg, and that’s not substantial enough to warrant remedial driver’s education. It might have been helpful if Judge Bailey had used his discretion to order Mehta to comlpete a Savvy Cycling class before returning her privilege to drive.

Also infuriating: Some hideous person left a comment on your blog about how horrible it is that poor li’l Pratiti’s career has been derailed because of all this inconvenience. Well, Mehta’s victim is a stage hand, a manual laborer whose ability to labor manually was taken away from him by her violent assault. To this day, he walks with a limp, and will probably never be 100% again. Although he’s working now, he lost lucrative, prestigious opportunities (plural) because he was unable to work during his physical rehabilitation. The commenter’s ignorance in suggesting that the victim shared fault is terrifying, and it’s disgusting to consider that Mehta associates with those who think this way and who might be able to influence her thoughts, especially since she is still allowed to continue to drive without any education.

In addition to time served (with credits for good behavior), the Judge sentenced Miss Mehta to 2 years in State Prison, suspended, for the felony hit and run count; 6 months in County Jail for the misdemeanor lyin’-to-the-cops count; and fines for the infraction of CVC 21070, “unsafe operation of a motor vehicle causing injury.” Count 4, CVC 21107 (“unsafe turn”), was dismissed.

Mehta will be on formal probation for the next three years. She will probably drive to report in for every appointment.

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I recently wondered why a driver had been charged with murder for killing someone, which almost never done except in the case of repeated DUIs.

Here’s what she had to say.

Regarding murder charges. I spoke briefly with a random attorney in the courthouse hallway, and “implied malice” (the reasonable knowledge that an act is dangerous) is sufficient to file a charge of murder. “Express malice”  (“I’M GONNA KILL YOU, BITCH!”) makes it a lot easier to prosecute, but if you get reasonable jurors, a murder conviction is not just possible but likely.

This should be a giant duh, but murder is rarely sought in cases involving motor vehicles. Unless, of course, the driver is impaired, or if a threat has been expressed.

And conviction is never a sure bet, as in this case, which ended in acquittal, probably because of the, uh, questionable sobriety of one of the pilots. (This case was actually referenced by DA Cornwell in one of his filings in a vehicular manslaughter case a few years ago, which is why I looked it up.)

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Yet another reason why people keep getting killed on our streets.

If nobody’s pointed it out yet: 10.4 miles of Vanowen Street is gettin’ a speed limit increase.

Not at the same Vanowen High Injury Network location where a crossing guard was killed at a yellow crosswalk and a HAWK beacon was installed last month. West of there. 10.4 miles, the longest stretch designated for an increase, all within a half mile or less of over twenty preschool and K-12 facilities. But at least those 10.4 miles don’t have many of those useless HAWK beacons. And only about 3 of the 10.4 miles are on the High Injury Network.

Good job, Vision Zero team!

………

That “wipeout” video you posted.

I recognized that Starbucks (and hideous Wells Fargo) instantly. That was my commute route for nearly 10 years.

Also, right where the video began, that’s where Michael Bastien was killed. (His killer’s already out, fwiw.) And that Starbucks is in the same strip mall where another Huntington Beach statistic worked, at Valentino’s Pizza. The dough slinger saw Bastien’s ghost bike every day, just meters from his work; he was hit on October 13th, 2015, and died in the hospital on the 19th, on the anniversary of Shaun Eagleson’s murder. If I’m marking dates, Wednesday would’ve been AJ Brumback’s 17th birthday. (Note: The killer of the then-eight-year old boy didn’t spend a day behind bars.)

A simple right-hook video shouldn’t create a cascade of these associations.

………

She also addressed last week’s response to a column by OC Register columnist David Whiting calling for a mandatory bike helmet law.

David Whiting’s friend Pete Tomaino was wearing a helmet when he was killed while riding his bike. Look, there’s a picture of Pete in the newspaper, wearing his holy, all-protective helmet!

Orange County bicyclists Joey Robinson, Roger Lippman, Shaun Eagleson, former Olympian Amine Britel, Sara Leaf, Debra Deem, Fire Captain Mike Kreza, all wearing helmets when they were killed.

The human brain can shut down permanently as a result of trauma not inflicted by a direct blow to the head. Even if you’re wearing a motorcycle helmet, damage to your rain not inflicted by a direct blow can kill you. No helmet will prevent trauma-induced hypoxia or rhabdomyolysis.

………

And she ends on a personal note.

Sunday night I was nearly killed by a creep who ran a red (not orange; very, very red) at a blind corner at 50 mph. I am still shook.

You know how your brain replays everything over and over and over in these situations, all the scenarios with variable timelines could have resulted in a different outcome. Yeah, that’s what my head’s been doing. For days.

Also, I had the plate, driver’s description, and location, and damn right I called it in, and the Sheriff will do nothing about the piddly little infraction that nearly killed me and the other driver with the same green light.

I won’t rant, but I am still shook. If I weren’t the type to look for cross traffic, if I hadn’t been on my slow janky bike while my Kilo TT’s in the shop, if I hadn’t yielded a block before for a turning driver, I wouldn’t be writing this.

If, if, if.

If, indeed.

Morning Links: Charges increased in Frederick “Woon” Frazier death, and WeHo drag queen run down on purpose

Maybe there will be justice for Woon after all.

I received the following email from an anonymous correspondent at yesterday’s scheduled prelim for Mariah Kandise Banks, charged with the hit-and-run death of Frederick “Woon” Frazier and the attempted coverup that followed.

The People have filed an amended complaint against Ms. Banks in which the charge of misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence has been upgraded to felony.

Judge Lynne Hobbs thanked Ms. Banks for being on time this morning. Alas, the prelim was trailed yet again.

The judge inquired about the prosecution’s previous request for an increase in bail due to the accused’s alleged harassment of the victim’s family (and frankly, she seemed willing and prepared to grant it). The prosecutor stated that she had spoken to the victim’s family two days ago and had received no further reports of harassment, so the bail stands as-is.

Ms. Banks was her usual muttery self as she exited the courtroom.

The increased charges mean Banks now faces six years for felony vehicular manslaughter, rather than one year for the misdemeanor count.

That’s in addition to a possible four years for felony hit-and-run.

However, it’s unlikely she’ll serve anywhere near that. The LA district attorney’s office has a well-deserved reputation for bargaining charges down to avoid a trial.

If Banks is smart, she’ll drop the attitude and cop a plea. And maybe get out in a couple years, rather than risk serving the full dime behind bars.

Photo of Frederick “Woon” Frazier taken from his original crowdfunding page.

………

This is who we share the road with.

A popular West Hollywood drag queen says a driver fled the scene after apparently running him down on purpose as he was leaving a bar with friends two weeks ago.

The victim, Sasha Markgraf, says he was the only member of the group dressed in an effeminate manner.

In addition to being a drag performer and singer, Markgraf is also a costume designer. When he left the bar with his friends to cross Larrabee Street after 2 a.m. he was wearing high heels and suspects the driver may have intentionally hit him.

“It’s sad to say but I think he was coming straight for us. He didn’t have to go right. He didn’t have to veer to the right,” Markgraf says.

A crowdfunding page says the driver turned on his car as Markgraf stepped off the curb and revved his engine before plowing into him. So far, it’s raised just $2,100 of the $50,000 goal.

Unfortunately, the only description of the car is a silver Honda Civic. There’s no description available for the driver.

Lets hope they catch this jerk before he or she tries to kill someone else.

And maybe succeeds next time.

………

Another crowdfunding page is raising money to buy a new bike for an Active SGV staff member whose bike was stolen, along with her panniers, wallet and clothes, at last Sunday’s CicLAvia.

So far it’s raised nearly $300 of the modest $500 goal.

………

There’s no shortage of bighearted people in today’s news.

When the bike a Salem, Oregon man used as his primary form of transportation was stolen, his friends in the trading card community pitched in to buy him a new one.

The bike an Ohio man used as transpiration for himself and his one-year old daughter was stolen just two days into his new job, so his Walmart coworkers dug into their own pockets to buy a new bike and trailer for someone they barely knew, and most had never met.

A Pennsylvania man rode his bike across the US, raising $11,000 for a pair of small-town animal rescues.

Great piece about a British Columbia bike shop owner and inventor who earned the Lanterne Rouge in the 1955 Tour de France, joining another rider as the first British cyclists to finish the tour; after moving to Canada, he built the wheelchair used on an around-the-world journey, as well as refurbishing bicycles to give to those in need. Sadly, he died of cancer on Saturday.

Then again, some people would rather help themselves. After a thief stole the bicycle a nine-year old English boy got for his birthday, he set out to do odd jobs around town until he earned enough to buy a new one.

………

Local

As we noted yesterday, LADOT is looking for volunteers for the city’s first-ever official bike and pedestrian count later this month, as well as using traffic cameras for part of the count. Volunteers are needed to count bicycles in Long Beach, too.

A pair of LA Times readers shake a metaphorical fist at the paper for celebrating the death of the High Desert Corridor through the Antelope Valley.

 

State

67-year old San Diego man was rear-ended on his bike in broad daylight, suffering what was described as a non-life-threatening brain bleed. A witness said he “came out of nowhere,” which is just another way of saying you weren’t paying attention.

The student newspaper at San Diego State University says the school made a bad decision in banning e-scooters and other micromobility devices, based on bad data and with little student input.

A Santa Barbara man was critically injured when he was hit head-on rounding a curve after allegedly drifting onto the wrong side of the road; fortunately, he’s expected to make a full recovery.

 

National

Bicycling hosts a debate on whether someone on a bicycle is a cyclist or a biker. Apparently, a person riding a bicycle wasn’t an option.

A medical columnist says if you really want to avoid pain when you ride, hie thee to a bike fitter. Though he might not have phrased it quite that way.

A Hawaiian advocacy group will host a Noodle Ride, with participants using pool noodles to call attention to the three-foot passing law.

Seriously? An Oregon letter-writer says she’s fine with one bike lane, but why do bicyclists need one going the opposite direction on the other side of the street, as well?

Albuquerque paramedics are using bicycles to get through the crowds at the city’s annual hot air balloon festival.

Good advice. After surviving a serious collision while riding her bike, a Boulder CO woman says you should take published reports in the media with a massive grain of salt. Like this one, for instance.

A Houston man is dead after a cop driving at high speed — and without lights and sirens — slammed into him in a crash caught on dashboard video from a car parked nearby. In a tragic irony, the city launched a prescheduled campaign just hours later, calling on drivers to watch out for vulnerable road users.

A writer for Streetsblog Chicago says he’s willing to bury the hatchet after a city alderman backs down on his threat to ban bikes from the Riverwalk. But he wants those illegal Bicycles Must Be Walked signs taken down.

A Minnesota man just finished riding every public street in his county

A Pittsburgh man is making his third official attempt to set a new handcycle 24-hour record. The paraplegic athlete set an unofficial record of 407.7 miles in 2016, breaking the existing record of 403.8; however, the track wasn’t certified by the Guinness Book of World Records, so it didn’t count.

Life is cheap in Pennsylvania, where a 73-year old woman was killed in a left cross collision, and the driver walked with a lousy traffic ticket. There’s something seriously wrong when needlessly taking the life of another person amounts to nothing more than a simple traffic violation.

 

International

Cycling Tips says a British Columbia bikemaker is setting a new standard for environmental sustainability in the bicycle industry.

Heartbreaking story from Hamilton, Ontario, where a 14-year old boy was stabbed to death by a pair of brothers as his mother watched, after he had confronted the other boys for allegedly stealing his bicycle.

Life is cheap in Wales, too, where a woman got off with just 27 months behind bars for drunkenly driving “like a maniac” and plowing into four members of a family out for a bike ride, then fleeing the scene; one of her victims was lucky to survive. So naturally, she blamed the entire thing on her boyfriend.

A British truck driver was convicted of careless driving in the death of a bike-riding doctorhis view was obstructed by a dashboard tray full of ornaments and other items.

In news for my fellow diabetics, a new Australian study shows that while diabetics are prone to heatstroke, you can reduce your risk by training in the heat for a week in advance.

 

Competitive Cycling

Baltimore will host a one-day ProSeries race — one rung below the WorldTour — for the next three years.

Cycling’s governing body says it’s going to work with riders to improve safety in time for next year’s cycling season. If they really want to improve safety, they’ll get team cars and race motorcycles out of the peloton, and require riders to wait until someone can catch up for assistance.

 

Finally…

Nothing like circus friends to borrow a bike from. Apparently, there’s no bike lane that can’t be turned into a parking lot.

And nothing like turning a Santa Clarita bike path into your personal brass knuckle fight club.

 

Rally tomorrow demanding justice for Scott Clark; OC triathlete was collateral damage in alleged 2017 road rage case

No Morning Links today, due to the demands of this piece, as well as a few too many emergency potty runs caring for a sick Corgi.

I’ll try to catch up tomorrow with a rare Weekend Links if her belly allows; if not, we’ll be back on Monday with anything we’ve missed.

………

When does justice delayed become justice denied?

Apparently, when Orange County investigators drop the ball.

And the DA drops the case.

Bike lawyer Ed Rubinstein forwards a flyer demanding justice for a Laguna Hills father, teacher and triathlete who was killed over two years ago, the result of a road rage incident between two motorists.

Scott Clark, a fifth-grade teacher at Laguna Niguel Elementary School and four-time Ironman triathlete, was training for a race in January, 2017, when he ran into a crosswalk just as two women were arguing as they sped down the road in Laguna Nigel.

One of the women, later identified as Jamie Mulford, allegedly turned right from the left lane in front of the other car, cutting off the driver and forcing her  car into Clark as he crossed the street.

He suffered severe head injuries, and died two weeks later.

Mulford was arrested at the scene for suspicion DUI, but the charge was dropped because investigators failed to test her blood alcohol level for nearly six hours after the crash, by which time she was under the legal limit.

The DA eventually charged Mulford with vehicular homicide in the death of Scott Clark. Yet after numerous delays, the case was dismissed ths year when the DA said they could no longer prove Mulford’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

Adding insult to overwhelming injury, Mulford sued Scott Clark’s wife for defamation and intentional infliction of emotional distress — choosing the two year anniversary of his death to file suit.

It took less than a month to have the case thrown out of court for lack of merit.

Which bring us to tomorrow’s rally calling for justice for Scott Clark.

Supporters of Clark — or anyone who believes in the safety of our streets — is urged to meet at Laguna Nigel City Hall at 10 am Saturday to walk to the crash site at Niguel Road and Alicia Parkway.

I don’t know if Jamie Mulford is guilty.

But I do know Scott Clark’s survivors deserve to have the case put in front of a jury.

And newly elected DA Todd Spitzer owes them that.

Thanks to Ed Rubenstein for the heads-up.

Costa Mesa Fire Captain Mike Kreza died, 2 days after he was struck allegedly stoned driver in Mission Viejo

In the end, a man who spent 18 years saving others couldn’t be saved himself.

News broke this morning that Costa Mesa Fire & Rescue Captain Mike Kreza had died, two days after he was after he was run down by an allegedly stoned driver while riding in Mission Viejo.

Kreza was training for an Ironman Triathlon when his bike was struck by a car driven by 25-year old Stephen Taylor Scarp around 8 am Saturday on Alicia Parkway near Via Burgos.

He was reportedly hit from behind as he was riding in the bike lane on eastbound Alicia Parkway, suffering critical wounds to the head and body.

The Costa Mesa Fire Department had reported that he was unresponsive as a Sunday afternoon, and surrounded by family and friends.

Scarp remained at the scene. He was arrested on suspicion of DUI after police found multiple prescription medications in his car. At last report he was being held on $100,000 bond, pending a hearing scheduled for tomorrow.

Kreza leaves behind a wife and three young daughters.

This is made even more tragic, not just because of the families he leaves behind — both his own and the close-knit firefighter community — but because so many of us owe our lives to the men and women who devote theirs to saving others.

He died, sadly and needlessly, not in a courageous effort to rescue someone else, but as one of us.

A crowdfunding campaign for his family has raised over $126,000 in just two days, more than five times the original $25,000 goal.

This is at least the 43rd bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the sixth that I’m aware of in Orange County.

My deepest sympathy and prayers for Mike Kreza and all his family and loved ones. 

Thanks to Megan Lynch, Steve S and Steven Bonadio for the heads-up.

 

 

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