Tag Archive for Carlsbad CA

Charges in Carlsbad and Fountain Valley cycling deaths; bold plans for WeHo, new bike plan in SaMo

Lots of things are happening on the SoCal legal front.

To start with, Julianne Thompson of Carlsbad has pleaded not guilty in the hit-and-run death of 64-year old cyclist Arthur Jacobs; she was found hiding in some nearby bushes shortly afterwards with a blood alcohol level over three times the legal limit. Thompson faces up to 15 years on charges of gross vehicular manslaughter, hit-and-run and drunk driving.

According to the stories, she’s remorseful. Yet the victim is still dead.

So how does that balance out?

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Sources tell me that Adam Carl Garrett, the 19-year old driver accused of killing cyclist Hung Do in a Fountain Valley hit-and-run then calling police pretending to be a witness, has been charged with misdemeanor hit-and-run without gross negligence and hit-and-run with permanent and serious injury.

As one reader put it,

I don’t understand the “without gross negligence” part, but I’d have to say that, yes, death is “permanent and serious.”

As members of the LAPD have repeatedly pointed out, charges are based on what the DA or City Attorney’s offices think they can prove, rather than what police believe really happened. Without witnesses, and with the additional time for any possible intoxicants to pass out of the driver’s system allowed by the hit-and-run, it would be very difficult to make stronger charges stick.

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I’m also informed that the family of Amine Britel, the Newport Beach triathlete killed while riding in a bike lane last February, has filed a lawsuit against the driver. Danae Miller was reportedly texting and driving under the influence when she hit Britel’s bike from behind; with her driving record, I’d recommend settling quickly.

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Word from the LAPD indicates that charges will soon be filed — if they haven’t already — in the hit-and-run death of Alex Romero, the 17-year old cyclist killed by a speeding car while riding with a friend on De Soto Ave. last April. And charges may not be limited to the driver; they could include others who allegedly attempted to help her cover up the crime.

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Renew your membership or make a donation to the LACBC now and AdventureCorp will match it up to a total of $10,000 in honor of fallen endurance cyclist Jim Swarzman.

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Get a first look at the newly unveiled draft of the Santa Monica Bike Action Plan when the Santa Monica Spoke hosts a meeting with Santa Monica Deputy Director Lucy Dyke tonight from 6 pm to 8:30 in the Colorado Community Room, 502 Colorado Blvd.

Meanwhile, West Hollywood’s Bicycle Task Force proposes a bold plan to make the city more bike friendly, including removing parking spaces to extend bike lanes along busy Santa Monica Blvd and a road diet on Fountain Ave. to create a protected bike lane along the curb. Not to mention aligning other proposed bike lanes on Fairfax and Vista/Gardner with bike lanes included in the new L.A. bike plan.

We can only hope bike-unfriendly Beverly Hills is paying attention, and plans to do something about that gaping black hole marring biking on the Westside. And needlessly risking the lives and safety of everyone who lives and rides there.

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The L.A. County Sheriffs Department is looking for a stabbing suspect who killed a man along the L.A. River Bike Path in South Gate; if you rode the trail the last Friday in June, maybe you saw something.

And according to KNBC-4, L.A. police are looking for a hit-and-run suspect who struck three pedestrians and a parked car in a space of two blocks in Downtown L.A. Sunday morning. But maybe someone else can point out the logical disconnect in this sentence, since KNBC clearly doesn’t get it:

An investigation is underway as to whether or not these accidents were intentional, police said.

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It’s time to rethink North Figueroa. Streetsblog looks at the less-than-promising Woodley Ave. bike lanes. LADOT wants your help to survey L.A. bike racks. Metro moves forward on bike share. Full bike parking at the Grove. Those of us born with an competitive gene have to be reminded from time to time not to underestimate anyone; I have to fight the urge to ride down anyone on the road ahead of me. Funny how often the Times photo of the day features bikes. Will gives new meaning to L.A. River Ride by actually riding in the river to connect the gaps in the trail. The South Bay section of the beachfront Marvin Braude Bike Path is about to get a much needed facelift; hopefully the county will get to the cracked and crumbling Marina section before it completely falls apart. Ashley Tisdale rides with her dog in Toluca Lake. An update from Amarillo on the L.A. firefighters riding across the country to honor victims of 9/11.

More information on Cody Wessel, the 19-year old Wildomar cyclist who was killed in nearby Lake Elsinore on Friday. Bike thefts are up in Newport Beach, where police search for Ashton Kutcher and Colonel Sanders. A blind cyclist rides a tandem 240 miles from Santa Barbara to San Diego. A Santa Barbara writer says we could solve a lot of problems with those three little words: share the road. An SB teen is riding across county to raise money and awareness for a program allowing the homeless to live safely in their cars. The Bay Area is facing a pedicab war; yes, Microsoft Word, pedicab is a word so get over it. I missed the unique importance of these new microwave red light sensors in Pleasanton the first time around; thanks to Road.cc for the clarification. Palo Alto attempts to calm traffic and build boulevards. A bike path that doesn’t connect to anything may be a waste of money, but some idiots still don’t get it — it’s the cyclists who are subsidizing the roadways, not the other way around. African American cyclists get blessed in Oakland in an attempt to get more on the road.

New Tron-style wheel rim lights could keep you safer at night. How to not be invisible when you ride. Cycling is good for you, even if you’ve been a couch potato. A graphic illustration of why bikes are good for rural economies. This is why you don’t buy cheap carbon frames off eBay. How is it that Sitka AK is bike-friendly and L.A. isn’t? Misdemeanor charges for killing a Colorado cyclist. It wasn’t easy coming up with that crappy name for the upcoming USA Pro Tour Cycling Challenge; after a top 10 finish in the TdF, Colorado’s Tom Danielson could be one of the favorites. A thief who stole seven bikes from Idaho’s World Relief returns three with an apology. Newly minted Montanan Dancer a la Mode sends word of a DUI fatality that’s gripping the local community. Oklahoma authorities have arrested a suspect in the 2009 hit-and-run death of an 8-year old girl; there’s not a pit in hell deep enough. A Chicago cyclist is killed on her way home from Lollapalooza after falling underneath a dump truck. Massachusetts authorities can now ticket cyclists, but can’t force them to pay.

Turns out bike share saves lives; I wonder if the results would be the same here in L.A. with our lack of cycling infrastructure. How to be an ambassador for cycling. Southern California isn’t the only place where cycling fatalities are on the way up. Pro cycling’s most successful team is folding at the end of this season, while star rider Mark Cavendish may jump to Team Sky; thanks to George Wolfberg for the head’s up. Cycling prodigy Taylor Phinney will compete in this year’s Vuelta a Espana, after winning his first stage since turning pro. Israel revokes their mandatory helmet law for adults. Three years in prison for a rickshaw jockey who chewed off a cyclist’s ear in a road rage incident.

Finally, the unofficial highlights of the Tour de France. And a cyclist rescues a crawfish from the mean streets of Salinas.

If you missed Sunday's Brentwood Grand Prix, you missed some great racing. Don't make the same mistake next year.

Encino cyclist killed in Leucadia; local TV speculates an attempted vehicular serial killer could be at work

This is not what I wanted to write about tonight.

I had planned to discuss another exceptionally successful CicLAvia; hopefully I can get to that tomorrow.

But this time, we need to talk about, not just the tragic death of a local cyclist on SoCal streets, but the chilling possibility that someone may be intentionally running down bike riders in San Diego County.

According to multiple press reports, 47-year old Encino resident James Steven Swarzman was riding with two other cyclists in North San Diego County around 1 am Sunday. The riders were headed north on the 1300 block of Highway 101 in Leucadia — a stretch of road I rode hundreds of times when I lived down that way. A competitive cyclist, he was reportedly on a late night training ride to get ready for the upcoming season.

A witness on the scene reportedly described a Ford pickup drifting between the Number 1 and Number 2 lanes before striking Swarzman’s bike from behind. Despite a flight to a local trauma center and aggressive attempts to resuscitate him, Swarzman was declared dead just three hours later.

The driver fled the scene without stopping; the vehicle is described as a newer blue Ford F-150  pickup, and should have damage to the front end, including one or more broken headlights. Anyone with information is urged to call the Encinitas Sheriff’s station at 760-966-3500.

That should be the end of the story.

I only wish it was.

According San Diego TV station KGTV, S.D. Sheriff’s Investigators are looking into the horrifying possibility that the collision was intentional.

According to their report, a witness said that the driver didn’t slow down before hitting Swarzman. The description sounds eerily familiar to 33-year cyclist Heath Bernstein, who was seriously injured in a hit-and-run collision on the same highway last January.

He was also riding with two other cyclist, at 11 pm on Tuesday, January 18th, when he was struck from behind by a dark colored pickup truck in nearby Carlsbad. According to Bernstein, it was clearly a deliberate act, with the driver crossing over two lanes of traffic before hitting him in the bike lane.

KGTV notes that the description of the truck is virtually identical to the vehicle in Bernstein’s crash.

It’s bad enough if this turns out to be another needlessly tragic hit-and-run.

The idea that this could be murder — let alone the work of a wannabe vehicular serial killer — is almost beyond comprehension.

Update: A fellow rider remembers Jim Swarzman, and says he had been riding in Leucadia with his fiance and a friend as part of a 600k hosted by the San Diego Randonneurs; he also points us to an old, brief blog Swarzman had started.

Update: In the comments below, Joe Mizereck, founder of 3 Feet Please, has personally offered a $500 reward for information leading to the arrest of a suspect in this case. And Scott Wolfe, who identifies himself as a friend of Jim’s, asks for contact information for Jim’s parents; if you have that information, please call him directly (click here for number) rather than leaving in a public forum like this.

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As long as we on the subject of hit-and-run, there’s more bad news from Torrance.

According to the Daily Breeze, a girl was critically injured when she was hit by a car driven by an 83-year old driver while riding her bike at the intersection of Emerald Street and Madrona Avenue around 3:40 last Thursday afternoon.

The driver fled the scene, but witnesses followed the car and called the police and followed the car, who pulled him over not far from the scene. The paper reports that the driver was not taken into custody due to his age and medical condition, however, authorities plan to file felony hit-and-run charges.

Neither the victim or the driver have been publicly identified.

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Thanks to Jim Lyle for the heads-up on both these cases. I’ll try to get back to some good news tomorrow.

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