Tag Archive for Anita Sue Cherry

Distracted killer of an 8-year old OC cyclist walks without a single day in jail

I really don’t want to write about this.

I’ve been putting it off since a pair of noontime emails alerted me to a plea agreement in the case of Anita Sue Cherry, the driver charged in the death of 8-year old Andrew Brumback in January of last year.

AJ, as his family and friends called him, was hit by Cherry’s car as he rode his bike to school in January of 2011. He was riding shortly ahead of his sister when he crossed into the Westminster intersection; Cherry initially claimed he “came out of nowhere,” police later concluded that she had been looking down — at what, they never said — when the impact occurred.

In other words, she broke the most basic rule of driver by failing to maintain awareness of what was in the road directly in front of her.

And that single moment of distraction took the life of an innocent boy.

Fortunately, his sister did not see the collision, though what she did see afterward must have been almost as devastating.

It certainly was for the owner of the house in front where he died; you can still see the ghost bike and roadside memorial that sprang up afterwards in the Google Street view photo. And I’m told the Westminster Little League players will wear his initials on a patch this season.

Cherry, who stayed at the scene, was reportedly distraught at taking AJ’s life.

Maybe that’s why the D.A. seems to have been so lenient in this case, offering her a plea deal without a single day behind bars.

She had been charged with a single misdemeanor count of vehicular manslaughter without gross negligence, with a maximum sentence of one year in jail; instead, she pled guilty to misdemeanor reckless driving.

With a limp wrist slap sentence of three years informal probation and 300 hours of community service.

Frankly, I don’t know what to think.

Sending her to jail won’t bring AJ back. And it won’t ease the pain of his family, as shown by the witness statements quoted by the Orange County District Attorney’s office.

At the sentencing today, Brumback’s mother and brother gave victim impact statements to the court. His mother Debbie said, in part, “The loss of AJ has severely wounded our family and deeply injured a community of adults and children who knew him as a friend. I have had a year to put this letter together and am still at a loss for words. How do I continue to move each day without my little boy? My daughter Anna still will not open up and talk about the incident. She was blaming herself for a long time and is longing for her brother and best friend. My son Aaron won’t admit to new friends that he even had a brother because he would have to explain what happened. My husband Bill misses his ‘little buddy’ that used to watch all sports events with him. At school, AJ’s friends tell me how much they miss him. His best friend, Ryan, has been in therapy and hurts to find a friend to play with and share his secrets with. He misses the love of his friend. Not a day goes by that I don’t miss my little AJ.”

If Cherry has any conscience whatsoever, having to wake up every morning with the weight of AJ’s death on her shoulders is a far greater penalty than any jail sentence could have been.

On the other hand, letting her walk feels like a failure of the judicial system.

It’s a perfect example of why children and cyclists and pedestrians continue to die on our streets, when the judicial system refuses to hold drivers accountable for their actions or the lives they take.

Maybe this was a fair outcome.

Maybe not. It certainly doesn’t seem like it to me.

I’ve been angry and depressed all day since I got the news. And more committed than ever to support Safe Routes to School.

Because eight-year olds shouldn’t die on their way to class.

And AJ deserved better.

Insights and updates on Orange County bike cases — laughter or tears?

Over the past year or so, I’ve featured a number of updates on various Orange County and South Bay legal cases from an anonymous source.

Like the updates I get from Dj Wheels, I’ve come to trust and rely on the insights from this source to keep us up to date on cases from behind the Orange Curtain, which can be hard to follow from up here in L.A. — especially since these cases seldom make the news unless something major happens.

Today she sent me an email offering background information on a couple of cases that are slowly moving through the system. And I thought it was good enough that I wanted to share it with you.

This article from the Sunday Orange County Register shows why the OCDA’s office wants to nail Michael Dennis Roach (and his ilk) so bad.  (Roach is the drunken racer on PCH who hit another drunken racer, spinning both cars onto a segregated beach path.)  Things do not look good for Roach.  His co-defendent Glenn Michael Moore, on the other hand, has a much shorter rap sheet and a terrifyingly good lawyer.

Our drunk-driving laws are nauseating liberal.  MADD had to fight for years to get that excessively high .08 limit, and it’s so easy to circumvent in court.  In other, more civilized countries with a better grasp of public safety and/or neurochemistry, the limit is much lower, and the penalties are more appropriate.  Every year in America alone, more people are killed by drunk drivers than by firearms, knives, blunt objects, & strangulation combined, and drivers under the “legal” limit (but at .04 or above) account for 25% of these deaths.  Our laws fail to address the severity of the repercussions of dangerous operation of motor vehicles.

Danae Miller (um, for example) had a preliminary hearing on December 1st and naturally the judge decided that there is indeed enough evidence to send her to trial.  Miller’s due to be arraigned in a few hours;  I won’t be there because both Anita Sue “Stop Signs Don’t Apply to Me” Cherry and Adam Carl “Just a Witness” Garrett have appearances at a different couthouse.  However, an incredibly wonderful MADD victim services specialist assisting the Britel family will forward me the plea and any details.

Miller’s preliminary hearing was tedious, thorough and heart-rending. The D.A. called four individuals to testify; the defense called none.  The hearing included some of the evidence that will be shown if Miller doesn’t just plead guilty like Hines, including the video from the dashboard-mounted camera of the first responding officer’s approach to the scene, which showed Britel’s shattered carbon fiber bike lying in the gutter, front light still blinking.

Although it was dusk, the view of the roadway was completely unobstructed, the streetlights were on, and the bike had plenty of reflective material on the rims and below the seat.  Britel was wearing a yellow dayglo jacket with reflective material.  A blind man could have seen him.  Miller could not.

Evidence also included the dozen or so texts & calls made in the minutes preceding the collision, as well as Miller’s ratty ancient-tech flip phone, which she’d handed over to the first responding officer at his request after stating that she never texts while driving.  Two prior citations to which she pleaded guilty refute this remark.  Disappointingly, a Verizon custodian of records testified that there’s no record of the content of the texts sent or received.

Miller also initally lied to the police on scene about her intake of alcohol.  With bloodshot eyes and slurred speech, she first claimed she’d had nothing to drink prior to driving.  She then changed her story, saying she’d had “one glass” of wine about an hour prior to leaving work.  However, her BAC was measured at .105 and .106 from two separate vials of her blood collected approximately an hour and forty-five minutes after the collision.  (This amount was rounded down to .10.)

In questioning the D.A.’s theory of culpability, the judge requested a brief review of testimony in order to determine whether, as Miller’s lawyer attempted to suggest, the incident was a simple SWSS.  But Miller had never told investigators,  “I saw the cyclist ahead.”  She admitted to the arresting officer that the first indication she had that she’d hit something was the shards of her shattered windshield hitting her arm.  (At least she wasn’t too drunk to wonder what all the sparkly stuff was.)

After the hearing, I asked D.A. Hayashida whether Britel had a bike computer and whether the data had been accessed.  To my surprise, she admitted she didn’t know (!!!) but would look into it.  I’d squinted at the pics & video of Britel’s mangled bike, but could only see a dark blur to the left of the areo bars.  It just strikes me as unlikely that a serious, competetive cyclist wouldn’t have the bells and whistles that could pinpoint the location, sudden deceleration & trajectory of his bike… and possibly even indicate the exact time, to the second, when his heart stopped beating.

Incidently, Hayashida is also assigned to prosecute Adam Carl Garrett, so I expect to see her  again today.  AND (refer back to the Orange County Register article) she’s the one who nailed Dennis Malavasi.

Mad props to good stranger Heather Lohrman (hope that’s spelled right), who stopped at the crime scene, attempted to find Britel’s pulse, and ran up to Miller’s car to get the license plate number in case the perp decided to flee.  Another good stranger was present as well but his name was not released.

Just a quick and irrelevant note about Anita Sue Cherry:  Last month, only two days before her most recent scheduled hearing, her first lawyer (whose list of traffic citations is longer than Cherry’s) was cited for failure to stop at a stop sign.  And next Monday, her most recently retained lawyer (her first lawyer’s legal partner) has his arraignment for the DUI w/property damage he got in September.

I swear to God I’m not making this up.

Laugh, or cry?

Charge filed in death of 8-year old OC cyclist; dissecting New York’s anti-bike backlash

According to the Orange County Register, the driver will be charged in the heartbreaking death of 8-year old Andrew “A.J.” Brumback in Westminster last January.

Anita Sue Cherry of Westminster is scheduled to be arraigned Monday on a charge of misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter without gross negligence, with a maximum sentence of one year in jail. She reportedly was looking down as she went through the intersection and collided with A.J., who was riding to school with his sister.

According to the paper —

Misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter may be charged when there is “ordinary negligence” or the failure to use reasonable care to prevent reasonably foreseeable harm to one’s self or another, according to DA’s spokesperson Farrah Emami. A person is negligent if he or she does something that a reasonable, careful person would not do (ed: or fails to do something a reasonable person would do) in the same situation.

If you missed it before, Louise Larsen writes movingly about the near-silent death that occurred just outside her door.

And yes, it is every bit as sad as it sounds.


An excellent piece by Streetsblog founder Aaran Naparstek examines the roots of New York City’s bike lane backlash, finding that the sustainable streets called for by NYDOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan have become a reality:

  • Traffic fatalities are at a 100 year low
  • Bike commuting is increasing 25% a year
  • Travel times for select bus routes have decreased 20%
  • New York voters prefer the new, carless Times Square by a 2-to-1 margin
  • The supposedly controversial Prospect Park West bike lanes enjoy an astounding 78% approval rating

So who is behind the anti-bika lane uproar and the calls for Sadik-Khan’s head? Naparstek points the finger — exactly which one is unclear — at a tabloid press desperate for a story, ambitious political climbers and a governmental class for whom a free city parking placard is the ultimate entitlement.

It’s amazing how something so successful and enjoying so much support can be turned into an apparent controversy when the right people are fanning the flames.

Definitely worth a read.

Meanwhile, another city poll shows that the city’s bike lane program enjoys the support of over half of all New Yorkers, with just 39% opposed. Interestingly, the older the people responding, the less likely they were to support cycling infrastructure; Republicans don’t seem to like it much, either.

And Bike Snob looks at the backlash in his own unique way.

Then again, sometimes it’s cyclists who are the worst enemies of infrastructure projects.


Bike Talk airs Saturday at 10 am; listen to it live or download the podcast from KPFK.

If you hurry, you can still make Rapha’s ride to raise funds for victims of the Japan earthquake; the L.A. ride begins at 8 am today, Saturday the 19th, at Bike Effect, 910 Broadway Suite 100 in Santa Monica. Donate a minimum of $10 and Rapha will match your donation. Note to organizers — a little advance notice would be nice.

Ride 13 miles to the peace march in Hollywood on Saturday, March 19th; the ride begins at 11:30 am at Bici Digna, 1850 S. Main Street.

Also on the 19th, Long Beach continues their series of workshops for the city’s new Bicycle Master Plan with a bike ride from 10 am to 11:30 am, and a community workshop from 11:30 to 1 pm at Bixby Park, 130 Cherry Avenue.

Crash the L.A. Marathon course with Wolfpack Hustle’s car-free race to the coast under the biggest full moon in nearly 20 years; registration starts at 3 am at Tang’s Donut at Sunset and Fountain in Hollywood, and the ride rolls at 4 am.

Flying Pigeon’s Get Sum Dim Sum ride takes place on the third Sunday of each month; the next ride will take place at 10 am on Sunday, March 20, starting at 3714 N. Figueroa St. in Highland Park.

The final workshop for the new Long Beach Bicycle Master Plan takes place from 6 to 8 pm at the Mark Twain Library, 1401 E. Anaheim in Long Beach.

On Monday, March 28, the City Council of Culver City will consider a motion to amend the city’s recently adopted Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan to replace planned bike lanes on Washington Blvd with sharrows and allow the council to override the approved bikeway designations based on economic and safety considerations. The hearing will take place starting at 7 pm in the Council Chambers of Culver City City Hall, 9770 Culver Blvd.

The County of Los Angeles begins a series of 11 workshops for the new 2011 draft Bicycle Master Plan on Tuesday, March 28th from 6 to 7:30 pm at Topanga Elementary School, 141 N. Topanga Canyon Blvd, in Topanga. Additional workshops will be held March 29th, March 30th, March 31, April 4th, April 5th, April 6th, April 11th, April 12th, April 13th and April 14th; click here for locations and times.

L.A.’s Department of City Planning will hold a hearing on expanding requirements for bicycle parking on Wednesday, March 30th at 1 pm in Room 1010 of L.A. City Hall, 200 North Spring Street.

There should be an app for that. Metro invites anyone with a good idea to develop useful mobile apps or web mash-ups utilizing their transit data, with a goal of enhancing riders ability to use transit and encouraging more people to go Metro — and you could win up to $2,000 for your efforts. Learn more on Thursday, March 31st from 6 to 7:30 pm at Metro Headquarters, One Gateway Plaza Downtown.

The Santa Clarita Century is scheduled to roll on Saturday, April 2nd with rides ranging from a family ride to a full century, and a free expo and entertainment throughout the day. All rides begin and end at the Valencia Town Center, 24201 Valencia Blvd.

If you’re looking for something a little more relaxed, visit the free Magical Magnolia Bicycle Tour on Saturday, April 2nd from 3 to 7 pm in the Magnolia Park neighborhood in Burbank; be sure to visit Porto’s Bakery for a great Medianoche or Cubano sandwich and Cuban pastries.

The fourth installment of the LACBC’s popular series of Sunday Funday rides takes place on Sunday, April 3rd, with the Crosstown Traffic Sunday Funday Ride led by board member Greg Laemmle. The 28-mile ride will assemble at 9:30 am the Westwood Recreation Center1350 South Sepulveda Blvd, and explore routes from the Westside to Downtown, with a stop for some of L.A.’s best coffee and tamales.

Get a head start on CicLAvia on Sunday, April 10th with the 2011 edition of Feel My Legs, I’m a Racer, a 10 stage race up some of the city’s steepest hills. Competitors will assemble at 7:45 am at the intersection of Sunset and Griffith Park Blvds.

The next CicLAvia will take place on Sunday April 10th, with two more to follow on July 10th and October 9th. If you missed the first one, don’t make the same mistake again; word is that Lance will be there.

Keep the post-CicLAvia good bike feelings going on Thursday, April 14th with Bike Night at the Hammer Museum, starting at 7 pm at 10899 Wilshire Blvd in Westwood. Free admission, free food, drinks and screenings of the 1986 BMX classic Rad.

Celebrate tax day with the second annual Streetsblog fundraiser at Eco-Village on Friday, April 15th from 6 to 10 pm at 117 Bimini Place; suggested donation is $20, but L.A. Streetsblog editor Damien Newton no one will be turned away.

The Antelope Valley Conservancy sponsors the 16th Annual Antelope Valley Ride on Saturday, May 7th with rides of 20, 30 and 60 miles; check-in begins at 7 am at George Lane Park, 5520 West Avenue L-8 in Quartz Hill.

L.A.’s 17th annual Bike Week takes place May 16th through the 20th, with an emphasis on bike safety education, and events throughout the city. This year’s Blessing of the Bicycles will take place as part of Bike Week from 8 to 9:30 am on May 17th at Downtown’s Good Samaritan Hospital, 616 S. Witmer Street. And Metro is looking for Bike Buddies to guide inexperienced cyclists on Bike to Work Day.

The San Diego Century ride takes place on Saturday, May 21st with rides of 37, 66 or 103 miles, starting in Encinitas, along with free admission to an expo featuring sports, local cuisine and live music.

L.A.’s favorite fundraiser ride rolls on June with the 11th Annual River Rideadvance registration is open now. Volunteers are needed now and on the day of the ride, email RRvolunteer@la-bike.org for more info and to sign up.

And mark your calendar for the 2011 L.A. edition of the Tour de Fat on October 9th; unfortunately, Yom Kippur also falls on that date this year, so cyclists of the Jewish Persuasion will have to choose between atoning and having something else to atone for.


The always excellent Walk Eagle Rock spots a new one-block bike lane on Fair Park Avenue that could mark the beginning of a local bike network. Bike racks finally invade the lost province of Chinatown. After surviving a road raging driver on the streets of Santa Monica, Gary says unless real action is taken to make our streets safe, another Dr. Thompson is inevitable. Writing for HuffPo, CicLAvia board member Aaron Paley invites everyone back for its return on April 10th. Clearly, the Daily News gets it, as they call for a crackdown on people who phone or text while driving. Forty-seven year old Raul Alcala, one of the most exciting cyclists I’ve ever seen compete, will take part in this year’s Redlands Classic — 25 years after he placed second with the legendary 7-11 team. The recent collapse of Highway 1 in Big Sur isn’t expected to affect the upcoming Amgen Tour of California.

New Mexico moves forward with a possible five-foot passing law. It’s tuxes and tweed for the 2nd annual U.S. Brompton championships. Bike share reaches Owensboro Kentucky. Tennessee cyclists enjoy a tour from the grizzlies of the Memphis Zoo to the Memphis Grizzlies of the NBA; maybe one day the Lakers, Clippers, Kings, Dodgers, Galaxy, et al, might figure out that some of their fans ride bikes, too. A Georgia legislator thinks you have an inalienable right to be a habitual offender.

The UK’s new independent forestry panel fails to include mountain bikers. Scottish police receive lessons in how to ride, even if it is as easy as, well, riding a bike. Riding in the Dublin St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Road.cc says Northern Ireland’s proposed mandatory helmet law is dead in the water, at least for now. Mark Cavendish will compete in this weekend’s Milan – St. Remo classic on a McLaren.

Finally, biking can apparently boost your bowels. And don’t worry about a little nuclear fallout this weekend; Ann Coulter says it’s good for you.

Good luck to Amanda Lipsey in her first L.A. Marathon.