Tag Archive for fatal hit-and-run

Update: 30-year old woman killed on PCH by hit-and-run driver — and a lack of lights on nearby bike path

The seemingly endless rash of recent Southern California cycling fatalities goes on, as a 30-year old woman has been killed riding on PCH at the border between Santa Monica and Los Angeles.

And this one hits far too close to home.

According to numerous sources, the woman, who has not been publicly identified, was riding south on PCH just below Entrada Drive sometime around 11 – 11:30 pm last night when she was hit from behind by a white pickup.

She died at the scene; according to KCBS-2, the impact was so severe that police had to search the area to find her body.

The driver sped away without stopping, disappearing into traffic on eastbound I-10.

Authorities are looking for what is only described as a white pickup or possibly an SUV with significant front-end damage. Anyone with information is urged to call Santa Monica police at 310/458-8491.

Tragically, there’s a good chance this death could have been avoided.

Early in 2011, George Wolfberg, president of the Santa Monica Canyon Civic Association, bike advocate Eric Bruins and I met with officials from L.A.’s Department of Public Works, along with the construction company working on the Coastal Intercepter Relief Sewer project on southbound PCH.

That’s the project that has closed traffic lanes on PCH for the last year, and required temporary rerouting of the bike path near the walkway under PCH at Entrada.

To their credit, they were very open to our suggestions on how to keep cyclists safer during the approximately 18 month construction project.

But one thing we asked for didn’t make the final cut.

The city’s plan was to encourage cyclists to leave PCH and take the beachfront bike path at Will Rogers State Beach to avoid the obstacles and congestion created by the construction work.

A reasonable plan, at least during daylight hours.

However, many riders, particularly women, would be uncomfortable riding on the pathway at night, largely out of sight from drivers on PCH and hidden in the shadows — especially given the large number of homeless people and others who congregate in that area during daylight hours, let alone after dark.

As a result, riders who would gladly take the bike path during the day might feel safer riding on PCH, despite the risks posed by construction and heavy, high-speed traffic.

As one woman once told me, there are worse things than getting hit by a car.

So we asked that temporary lighting be installed along the bike path, at least through the construction zone, so bicyclists would feel safe riding there until they could return to PCH or turn off onto other routes.

While they agreed to consider it, they also said it was unlikely to be approved because there just wasn’t enough money in the $10 million budget. And clearly it wasn’t, as no lights ever appeared on the bike path, other than those required to light the construction site itself.

Now a woman is dead because she chose to ride on PCH instead of diverting onto the darkness of the bike path.

Why she made that choice, we’ll probably never know.

But the knot that’s been building in my stomach all morning tells me this tragedy could have been avoided. And that a women with decades of life ahead of her is now gone, needlessly.

And I’m holding my breath, selfishly hoping and praying that it wasn’t someone I know.

This is the 33rd cyclist killed in Southern California this year, and the 10th already this year in Los Angeles County; it’s also the second cycling fatality in bike-friendly Santa Monica.

And the 8th fatal bike-related hit-and-run — nearly a quarter of all cycling fatalities in the seven-county Southern California region.

Even worse, this is the 13th SoCal bicycling death since June 1st — a horrifying, deplorable rate of one rider killed every 3 days for the last six weeks.

And it’s got to stop.

Now.

My deepest sympathy and prayers for the victim and her loved ones.

Update: The Santa Monica Daily Press reports the victim, who still has not been publicly identified, lived in the area and was biking home from work after taking the bus part way. Witnesses say she was riding in the right lane before swerving into the middle lane, where she was hit and killed.

The paper reports that the truck dragged her bike about a half-mile from the crash site as it sped away.

Police report that the suspect vehicle is a full-size GM pickup; they’re examining crash debris to determine the exact year and model.

Update 2: The Daily Press has updated their story to identify the victim as Erin Galligan of Venice. She reportedly was on her way home from her job as a waitress when she was killed; the paper does not name the restaurant she worked at.

Anyone with information is urged to contact the SMPD watch commander at (310) 458-8495, or you can report information anonymously online at wetip.com or lacrimestoppers.org.

KTLA-5 reporter David Begnaud reports that police are looking for a white 1999 Chevy Silverado 1500 Xtra Cab with damage to the grill, hood and headlight. And offers a touching photo of Erin that just drives home what a waste this is.

Update 3: According to her Facebook page, she worked at Craig’s in West Hollywood; thanks to an anonymous commenter for the tip.

Update 4: The Palisadian Post reports that Galligan worked at Maison Giraud in Pacific Palisades, rather than Craig’s as her Facebook page indicated. The paper reports that the collision occurred directly in front of the driveway The Beach Club, and that police have video of the pickup speeding away with Erin’s bike trapped underneath. 

According to KNBC-4, Galligan was “an avid cyclist and adventurous woman,” who was well loved by her friends, and thinking about going back to school to become a teacher.

“I don’t know of a sour word that came from the girl,” Bryan McKinley, friend and coworker, told NBC4. “I guess that’s what makes the accident so tragic; it would be ok if it was just an accident.

“But what bothers everyone to their core is there was no accountability by this cowardice person who just ran off.”

 

Breaking news — arrest made in hit-and-run death of 18-year old Rancho Sante Fe cyclist

San Diego news sites are reporting that an arrest has been made in the hit-and-run death of 18-year old cyclist Angel Bojorquez.

According to 10News, 19-year old San Diego resident Jin Hyuk Byun was arrested Sunday night after a neighbor reported seeing damage to Byun’s 2008 Chevy Avalanche. NBC San Diego reports that he initially refused to cooperate with CHP investigators, but confessed after officers obtained a search warrant and discovered the truck.

Contrary to initial reports, the night Bojorquez was killed was the first time he had attempted the 20-mile bike ride home to Escondido from his job in Del Mar. He was forced to make the ride because he was unable to share his usual drive with his brother, and the buses he would have needed didn’t run that late.

Investigators determined that he was killed approximately one hour before his body was discovered by private security around 2 am — which means Byun ran him down just minutes after Bojorquez was stopped by a sheriff’s deputy.

No word yet on what charges Byun may face.

Let’s hope authorities treat this case with the seriousness it deserves. Any chance Bojorquez may have had to survive his collision was lost when Byun chose to run away like a coward rather than stop and call for help.

Although San Diego courts aren’t exactly known for handing down stiff sentences in cases like this.

Meanwhile, friends and family members are attempting to raise funds to pay for the victim’s funeral.

Maybe Byun’s family could sell that truck to make a sizable contribution.

Update: 18 year old cyclist left for dead in Rancho Santa Fe

News is breaking today that 18-year old Angel Bojorquez was killed early this morning in Rancho Santa Fe in North San Diego County.

He was riding his bike home from work around midnight last night when a driver drifted off the road and hit his bike from behind as he rode on the shoulder of Villa de la Valle just south of Paseo Delicias. Bojorquez reportedly died on impact as the driver fled the scene; his body was discovered by the private Rancho Sante Fe Patrol around 2 am.

He reportedly commuted to work by bike from his home in Escondido to his job as a grocery clerk at the Albertsons store in Del Mar on a daily basis. According to a CHP spokesperson, he was wearing a reflective vest and should have been easily visible to the driver.

Whether he could have been saved if the driver had stayed at the scene and called 911 will never be known.

Personally, I think any driver who runs away without calling for help should be charged with felony homicide if there was any chance his or her victim could have survived with medical attention.

This is the 30th cycling-related fatality in Southern California this year, and the sixth in San Diego County. It is also the second fatal hit-and-run involving a bike rider in San Diego County, and the seventh in Southern California since the start of the year.

My prayers and deepest sympathy for Angel Bojorquez and all his family and loved ones.

Update: As usual, later reports offer more detail on Friday’s tragedy. 

According to the Union-Tribune, Angel Bojorquez usually drove into work with his 23-year old brother, who also worked at the same store. However, when they were unable to coordinate their schedules, Angel made the 20-mile ride to work on his mountain bike. 

A sheriff’s deputy spoke with him around 12:45 am; his body was found next to his badly mangled bike two miles away and a little over an hour later, about 4 miles from the store.

CHP Officer Chris Parent speculated that the driver may not have stopped because he or she was drunk, given the early morning hour. While he didn’t have lights on his bike, Bojorquez was wearing a reflective vest that police said should have made him very visible to the driver that killed him, and that there could be little doubt the driver knew he hit someone; his brother says he didn’t own a helmet.

A native of Lancaster, Angel Bojorquez was living in Escondido with his aunt, uncle and brother; he’d been working at the Albertsons approximately two months, and had recently been promoted to cashier.

San Diego’s 10News says there was little evidence found at the scene, and no known witnesses.

Meanwhile, NBC 7 San Diego quotes his cousin calling for the driver to turn him or herself in.

“Why live with a guilty conscious (sic) like the rest of your life? You’re already gonna be guilty enough, just ‘fess up and let us know. Help us heal,” Bojorquez’s cousin Yarlenny Ramirez pleaded. “You’re gonna live your whole life knowing that you’ve killed someone; might as well let us know who you are.”

The station also reports that police are looking for suspects, and that a memorial fund has been established.

CHP said the suspect’s car likely has damage to the right front headlight. Anyone with information is being asked to contact CHP at (858) 637-3800.

Meanwhile, the family is in the process of setting up a memorial fund for Bojorquez at Wells Fargo Bank. They told NBC 7 San Diego they’re hoping to fly Bojorquez’s body to Ensenada, Mexico, where he can be buried next to his mother.

Update: Cyclist killed in Huntington Beach hit-and-run; arrest made in nearby Seal Beach

A bad month for SoCal cyclists just got that much worse when a cyclist was killed in a Huntington Beach hit-and-run late this morning.

According to the Orange County Register, the collision occurred around 11:40 Friday morning on northbound PCH between Seapoint Street and Warner Avenue. The rider, who has been identified only as an adult male, was pronounced dead at the scene.

No details on how the crash occurred are available at this time. However, a commenter on the Register story says they heard the impact, and turned to see the rider flying through the air and skidding over 100 feet, suggesting a high speed hit-from behind collision.

Satellite photos show a long stretch of roadway with only limited access, while the street view reveals a marked shoulder next to a four lane highway, with a 60 mph speed limit. It’s possible the driver may have drifted onto the shoulder, or the cyclist could have been forced into the traffic lane by a parked car or some other obstruction.

But we won’t know until additional information becomes available.

The good news — if there can be good news in a story like this — is that a suspect was arrested about an hour later in nearby Seal Beach.

According to KTLA-5, a man lost control of a 2011 Hyundai and crashed on Westminster Blvd between Bolsa Chica and Seal Beach Blvds. Police investigating the collision discovered the car matched the description of the suspect vehicle in the hit-and-run, and took the driver into custody.

However, KCBS-2 says police were following the suspect by helicopter, and arrested the driver when he ran off the road.

This is the 27th cycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the fifth in Orange County. The cyclist was also the sixth SoCal rider killed by hit-and-run since the first of the year, and the seventh to die this month.

My prayers for the victim, and all his family and loved ones.

Thanks to Lois, David Huntsman and Weshigh for the heads-up.

Update: KTLA-5 has identified the victim as 63-year old Roger Michael Lippman of Huntington Beach, listed as a rider in last year’s Palm Desert and Stagecoach Centuries

KNBC-4 confirms that the driver hit Lippman from behind; aerial video shows Lippman’s body covered by a tarp on the right shoulder next to his crumpled bike. The web version of the story shows the bloodied face of the suspect driver, while the embedded video shows the crumpled front end and shattered windshield of the car he was driving, which was registered to a 59-year old Anaheim woman.

Meanwhile, the Times identifies the driver as 27-year old Joel Alexander Murphy of Mission Viejo. A comment from reliable source TQ reports that Murphy has been booked on suspicion of felony hit-and-run, driving under the influence resulting in great bodily injury, gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and violating probation for prior drug offenses, including DUI, dating back to 2005.

And yet, despite all that, he was still behind the wheel.

I’ve also seen unconfirmed reports that Murphy was racing another vehicle at speeds up to 80 mph when he ran off the road and murdered hit Lippman. 

Hopefully, this will be the last time he’s ever allowed to operate a motor vehicle.

Nordhoff hit-and-run victim identified; city to offer $50,000 reward

Two weeks after a cyclist was killed in an early morning hit-and-run on Nordhoff Street, we finally know the name of the victim.

According to a press release from the LAPD, the rider who was run down on Nordhoff Street on Friday, June 8th was 76-year old Northridge resident Paul Albert Helfen, who appears to own a number of properties in the Valley.

So let’s get this straight.

At 76, Helfen was healthy enough to be out riding at 2 am — and doing everything right, according to the police. And some coward not only runs him down, but leaves him lying there to die in the street.

Nice.

Fortunately, this city is taking this one seriously.

Friday morning — two weeks to the day after Helfen was murdered — city and police officials will announce  that the City Council has approved a $50,000 reward for information that will lead to the arrest and conviction of the heartless SOB driver of the 2007 – 2012 Nissan Sentra that killed him.

Hit-and-Run Driver Leaves Bicyclist Dead $50,000 Reward Offered

WHAT:
Press conference to announce a $50,000 reward motion leading to the arrest and conviction of the hit and run driver who caused the death of a 76-year-old cyclist.

WHEN:
Friday, June 22, 2012, 10:15 A.M.

WHERE:
Los Angeles City Hall, John Ferraro Council Chamber
200 North Spring Street, 3rd Floor, Room 340 Los Angeles, CA 90012

WHO:
Councilmember Mitchell Englander, Council District 12
Captain Ivan Minsal, Commanding Officer, Valley Traffic Division Detective William F. Bustos, Officer-in-Charge Valley Traffic Detectives Family members of Victim Paul Albert Helfen

WHY:
To announce a $50,000 reward for information that will lead to the arrest and conviction of the hit and run driver who killed 76-year-old Paul Albert Helfen.

•Visuals will include a photograph of Mr. Helfen.

Los Angeles: The Los Angeles City Council has approved a $50,000 reward for anyone who will come forward with information that will help LAPD Valley Traffic Division Detectives solve a case of a fatal hit-and-run collision.

On Friday, June 8, 2012, at approximately 2:00 A.M., Valley Traffic officers responded to investigate a traffic collision involving a bicyclist near Nordhoff Street and Gaviota Avenue in the community of North Hills. The investigation revealed that Mr. Paul Albert Helfen, 76-years-of-age, was riding his bicycle eastbound on the south side of Nordhoff Street when he was struck from behind by a vehicle. Mr. Helfen died at the scene as a result of suffering serious injuries during the collision.

The investigation has revealed that the possible hit and run vehicle is a 2007 through 2012 Nissan Sentra. The hit and run driver fled without stopping to render aid to Mr. Helfen or to identify himself or herself in accordance with the law.

Anyone with information about this incident or the whereabouts of the driver or hit and run vehicle, are asked to contact Valley Traffic Detectives at (818) 644-8000 or (877) LAPD 24-7.

Address/Location
LAPD – VALLEY TRAFFIC DIV.
7870 Nollan Place
Panorama City, CA 91402

Contact
Emergency: 9-1-1
Non-emergencies: 818-644-8000

This is the highest reward I’m aware of for the hit-and-run of a Southern California cyclist.

Maybe it will be enough to bring Helfen’s killer to justice.

My deepest sympathy to the family and friends of Paul Helfen.

Thanks to Richard Risemberg and Sam Ebnet for the heads-up.

Update: Victorville-area cyclist killed in hit-and-run, 3rd fatal cycling injury in just 24 hours last week

Sometimes I just want to scream.

In the past two days, news has broken about three cycling fatalities in the Southern California Region, each injured in an 18-hour period last week.

This time, it’s the victim of a Victorville hit-and-run who died on Friday, two days after he was run down by a heartless coward and left for dead on the side of the road.

According to the High Desert Daily Press, 27-year old Alabama resident David Epperson was walking his bike on the east side of Ridgecrest Road south of Pebble Beach Drive in Spring Valley Lake, just east of Victorville, around 10:30 pm last Wednesday. A northbound SUV reportedly drifted off the road, striking Epperson and driving off without stopping.

He was airlifted to Arrowhead Regional Medical Center in critical condition, where he died on Friday.

Judging by the street view photos, there does not appear to be a shoulder or paved sidewalk alongside the roadway, suggesting that Epperson may have been forced to walk in the street. And suggesting that poor road design may have played a part in his death, as well.

Authorities are looking for an early 1990s Ford SUV with possible front-end damage. Anyone with information is urged to contact the Victorville office of the CHP at 760/241-1186 or 800/78-CRIME (782-7463).

This is the 26th cycling fatality in Southern California since the start of the year, and the fourth in San Bernardino County — and the second rider to die of injuries suffered in San Bernardino County last Wednesday. Epperson is also the 5th cyclist to killed by a hit-and-run driver this year.

My deepest sympathy and prayers for David Epperson and his loved ones.

Update: According to the High Desert Daily Press, CHP investigators have arrested a suspect in the death of David Epperson. 

An anonymous tip directed officers to a home in Victorville, where they found the damaged car and arrested 26-year old Jason Thomas Scott.

The paper reports that Scott was allegedly drunk at the time of the collision, and has been charged with gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and felony hit-and-run. He’s currently being held on $250,000. 

Scott has a history of arrests for DUI, disorderly conduct and assault with a deadly weapon. Yet once again, it wasn’t enough to keep him off the roads, and once again, an innocent person pays the price.

It will be interesting to see how authorities make their case that Scott was intoxicated at the time of the collision, since a full week had passed between the wreck and his arrest — more than enough time for any intoxicants to leave his system, or to argue that any substances remaining in his system were taken after the collision. 

Unless he has confessed to being under the influence, or they have witnesses who can attest that he was drinking heavily or taking drugs, the intoxication enhancement seem to be very difficult — if not impossible  — to prove.

Catching up: More on last week’s fatal hit-and-run, a bike-in movie and a Malibu meeting on PCH

Just a few quick notes as I try to catch up on life this week.

After checking with sources with the LAPD, there’s not much more information on last Friday’s fatal hit-and-run that took the life of a cyclist on Nordhoff Street. The victim, who has not been named publicly, is identified only as a 76-year old male Northridge resident.

However, they have released a updated description of the suspect vehicle. If you see the car or have any information, please contact the police immediately at the number below.

Let’s nail this heartless coward before he — or she — gets away with it.

Update: The LAPD has identified the victim as Paul Albert Helfen; a $50,000 reward is being offered for the arrest and conviction of his killer.

……..

With everything that’s been going on, I haven’t had a chance to update the Events page for a couple of weeks. So forgive me for the last minute notification on a couple of items.

First up, the L.A. Film Fest is inviting cyclists to attend a free bike-in screening of E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial at 8:30 pm tonight at Figand7th in Downtown L.A

30th Anniversary Screening
“Bike-In” Theater with bicycle valet, food truck and prizes

Possibly the greatest scene in one of our favorite films of all time, the image of Elliott and E.T. riding a bike through the sky, silhouetted by a full moon, has delighted generations of movie lovers. Now, celebrate their iconic ride with one of your own, as you pedal your way to our downtown “Bike-In” theater for a special, outdoor screening of the newly remasteredE.T., Steven Spielberg’s timeless classic of a little boy and his best friend from outer space. We can’t guarantee your bike will take flight, but your spirits will surely soar.

  • Ride your bicycle and we’ll valet it for free and give you one screening voucher for the LA Film Festival
  • Swing by the Yelp photo booth
  • DJ Del Rey will spin 80’s tunes
  • Nosh on delicious eats from José O’Malley’s food truck
  • Swing by the Arts Brookfield Info tent for parking validations and prizes

And the City of Malibu is holding a follow-up workshop this Saturday to discuss the PCH Bike Route Improvement Project for the portion of highway west of the city. The meeting will take place at from 10 am to noon at Malibu City Hal, 23825 Stuart Ranch Road.

From what I’ve seen, it looks like they’ve got some exciting ideas. But if you ride PCH — or would like to — you owe it to yourself to attend, because this will affect the road you ride on.

Update: The LAPD has identified the victim as Paul Albert Helfen; a $50,000 reward is being offered for the arrest and conviction of his killer.

……..

The San Francisco cyclist who killed a pedestrian while blowing through an intersection on a yellow light at an alleged 35 mph will face a charge of vehicular manslaughter, based in part on his actions leading up to the collision — something we’ve been told can’t be held against a motorist in similar cases. Meanwhile, an 80-year old DC area woman is killed by another cyclist on a multi-use pathway, just days after an El Cerrito woman was killed under similar circumstances; always, always always give pedestrians the right-of-way, even when they’re in your way. Thanks to Don Blount for the heads-up.

A ghost bike has been installed for Guadalupe Cruz, the 81-year old cyclist killed by a massive tractor-trailer in Fillmore last week. Making it that much more tragic, Cruz was on his way to meet his wife at a mass for their son, who was killed five years earlier. But what makes this even more touching is that I’m told the bike was prepared and placed by Anthony Navarro, whose own six-year old son was killed while riding his bike last Thanksgiving. Now that’s class. Thanks to Danny Gamboa for the news.

The LACBC is starting a Neighborhood Bike Ambassador Program to help support bike projects and programs on the street level. If you’ve been looking for an opportunity to do more to make your own neighborhood safer and more inviting to ride, here’s your chance.

Finally, Caltrans is just getting around to owning up to closing the North Fork Coyote Creek bike trail — something you may have read about here nearly a month ago. Nice work getting the word out in a timely manner, guys.

And a maniac Bakersfield driver may still be on the road, despite killing a motorcyclist and receiving three previous speeding tickets already this year — the last one just five days before she ran the rider down from behind.

Cyclist killed in early morning North Hills hit-and-run; BOLO for dark blue SUV with front end damage

This is not the news any of us wanted to wake up to.

Numerous sources are reporting that a cyclist was killed early Friday in a North Hills hit-and-run, when a rider was hit from behind  on Nordhoff Street near Gaviota Avenue.

According to a release from the LAPD, the rider was riding eastbound near the curb when his bike was hit, throwing him onto the street and into a raised planter box in the Auto Zone parking lot; a witness report says he bounced off the SUV’s windshield.

According to both KABC-7 and KCBV-2, the victim, who has not been publicly identified, was doing everything right when he was hit.

“This bicyclist did all the right things. Unfortunately, this accident occurred. I mean, he had a helmet on, the reflective vest, the bike headlights. He was an avid bicyclist. He had all the right things on,” said Capt. Ivan Minsal with the Los Angeles Police Department.

The avid bicyclist remark appears to stem from the fact that the victim was wearing bike shorts and appeared to be riding for exercise or recreation, despite the late hour.

Descriptions of the victim vary. The L.A. Times describes him only as a 53-year old male, while KABC-7 says he was a Hispanic man in his 50s or 60s; the LAPD release describes him as a whit male in his late 60s or early 70s.

Police are looking for a dark colored, possibly dark blue, Chevy Blazer or similar mid-size SUV with front end damage, most likely with a broken windshield.

Anyone with information is urged to contact the Los Angeles Police Department, Valley Traffic Detectives, Detective II James Deaton #24252 at 818 644-8035 or Detective III William Bustos #25029 at 818 644-8021 during normal business hours.

Police also note that you don’t have to reveal your identity.

After-hours calls may be directed to a 24-hours, toll-free number at 1-877-LAPD-24-7 (527-3247). Callers may also text “Crimes” with a cell phone or log onto WWW.lapdonline.org and click on Web Tips. When using a cell phone, all messages should begin with “LAPD.” Tipsters may remain anonymous.

At least in this area, Nordhoff is essentially a six lane, high-speed throughway that encourages motorists to drive far above the speed limit, particularly in the late night hours when light traffic essentially allows drivers to go as fast as they want.

The new L.A. bike plan calls for bike lanes on Nordhoff, though I don’t find it on the five-year implementation plan. Hopefully, it will include a road diet to slow traffic speeds; otherwise, a simple line of paint wouldn’t do a damn thing to stop a driver who couldn’t seem to see a cyclist lit up like a Christmas tree.

And keep an eye out for an SUV that matches the description. Anyone who could do something like this and then heartlessly run away like the coward he or she is belongs behind bars.

This is the 23rd cycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the 7th in Los Angeles County; it’s the first bicycling death in the City of Los Angeles in 2012. This is also the fourth bike-related fatal hit-and-run in the seven county SoCal region this year.

My prayers and sympathy for the victim and his loved ones.

Thanks to LAPD Deputy Chief Jorge Villegas for the heads-up.

Update: The LAPD has identified the victim as 76-year old Northridge resident Paul Albert Helfen; a $50,000 reward is being offered for the arrest and conviction of his killer.

A ride to honor a friend, a fatal hit-and-run and a loyal dog; Pasadena Ride of Silence next Wednesday

Forgive my lack of updates.

I’m still trying to catch up on work, which has kept me tied up this week. But I don’t want to let the day pass without a couple quick notes.

……..

First, I’ve been following this case all week, which just gets more heartbreaking with every new turn.

The story started with a cryptic report last Saturday that an unidentified cyclist had been killed in a hit-and-run on PCH north of Wilder Ranch State Park near Santa Cruz late Thursday night or early Friday morning. The story mentioned in passing that the man’s dog was unharmed despite riding in a crate on the bike at the time of the crash.

By the next day, the story had spread around the world of the loyal Cairn Terrier mix who had stayed by his master’s body for as long as 12 hours after he was killed. The dog was taken to a shelter for evaluation while police searched for his master’s killer.

Before long the victim was identified as a 39-year old homeless man, Joshua Laven of Massachusetts. Except he wasn’t homeless; he was riding across country from Florida to San Francisco in honor of a lifelong friend who had died while visiting Cambodia. In fact, he had been riding the friend’s bike until just days before he was killed, his dog his only companion on the trip.

According to some reports, it was the dog’s mournful howling that alerted a pair of passing riders on a tandem; Laven was just one day San Francisco when he was run down from behind.

Police are still looking for the driver of the truck that hit Laven and left him on the side of the road to die.

His five-year old dog, Ozziet, has been adopted — at least temporarily — by a family friend who had known Laven since he was 15 years old. She hopes to return the dog to his family soon.

The Mercury News says Ozziet whimpered as the shelter workers handed the dog over to his new owner.

……..

I received an email today from Thomas Cassidy asking me to help get the word out about the Pasadena Ride of Silence next Wednesday.

If you’re not familiar with the Ride of Silence, it’s a world-wide moving memorial in honor of fallen cyclists, to remember those who have died while riding their bike and call attention to the need for road safety. And it’s something I support wholeheartedly.

There are other rides nearby in Thousand Oaks, Ventura, Irvine and Temecula, just to name a few, but this is the only ride in the immediate L.A. area.

Cassidy says the Pasadena Ride of Silence has attracted around 100 riders in the past, but he’s hoping for a big increase this year, with a goal of 250 riders.

Personally, I’d like to see a thousand or more riders rounding the Rose Bowl this Wednesday to remember those who can no longer ride with us. And God knows, there are far too many of those.

The ride will start at 7 pm next Wednesday, May 16th, at the Rose Bowl. It’s an easy, slow-paced ride open to anyone, from beginning bicyclists to experienced riders. Or anyone and everyone in between — even if that means dusting off that old bike that’s been sitting in the garage covered in dust.

Yes, it’s that important.

I’m committed to attending the LACBC board meeting that same night, or I’d be there myself. So I hope you’ll do me the honor of taking my place.

And give real meaning to Bike Week by riding in the Ride of Silence, in Pasadena or whatever ride is closest to you.

Thanks to Thomas Cassidy  for the heads-up — and more importantly, for putting this ride together.

A cold-hearted killer driver — and her father — goes to jail, yet justice seems hollow

Today it became final.

A little over 10 months after 17-year old high school student Alex Romero was run down in a high speed hit-and-run — and long after many of us had given up on seeing justice in this case — Dominique Rush was sentenced to prison for leaving him to die in the street.

Fortunately, the police never gave up — despite the efforts of her father to hide evidence linking Dominique to the crime. He was also sentenced to jail Tuesday for having the car repaired, then sent to a junkyard to keep it hidden from police.

Frankly, I don’t know which disturbs me more.

A young woman snuffing out the life of a popular and promising young man, then fleeing like a cold-blooded coward. Or a father who goes out of his way to help his daughter avoid responsibility.

And don’t even try to pretend that any parent would do the same thing. My father would have marched me into the nearest police station for a lot less than that.

As reported here by cyclist and attorney Dj Wheels, Dominique and her father accepted a plea deal in January that will put her behind bars for two years and eight months for vehicular manslaughter and leaving the scene, while father Steven Rush will serve just 10 days in jail as an accessory after the fact.

According to Wheels, Dominique was given credit for time served and good behavior, slicing over 300 days off her sentence. The L.A. Daily News notes her time will be served in county jail as part of the state’s prison realignment program.

In addition to 10 days in jail, Steven was sentenced to three years in jail and 30 days of community service. Hopefully, he’ll do his service somewhere he can see the results of drivers like his daughter, so the magnitude of his actions may actually sink in.

Wheels, who was in the courtroom Tuesday, reports that it was very painful and emotional to listen to the testimony from family members, who showed 20 minutes of family photos. He says Dominique wept openly during the slideshow, while her father showed little emotion.

KCBS-2 reports that Dominique offered a tearful apology.

“I’ll never be able to forgive myself,” said Rush. “And I’m sorry for all the pain that I caused his family.”

Bizarrely, KCBS also reports that, despite their actions, Stephen insisted that there was no attempt to coverup the crime.

Her father also apologized. “IT was never our intention to hide, or stay away from anything,” he said.

Nice to know they weren’t trying to hide anything in the four months police were searching for the driver and the car they had junked after having it repaired.

According to KCBS, Romero’s mother considers the sentences punishment fair for the crimes committed.

I don’t.

Less than three years seems like a very generous sentence for taking the life of another human being, then fleeing the scene and trying to destroy the evidence. But that just goes to show how lenient our traffic laws are, especially when it comes to hit-and-run.

And just 10 days for the attempted coverup is an inexplicable gift for which her father should be eternally grateful.

Alex received the death penalty for their actions.

And his family suffered a loss in their hearts and lives that can never be filled.

Thanks to the LAPD and all the officers involved in this investigation, as well as the prosecutors who helped get justice for the Romero family. The Rushes are behind bars tonight because the police refused to give up on this case.

………

A group of cyclists lead by leading L.A. bike advocate Roadblock met with the L.A. Police Commission Tuesday morning to request that hit-and-run collisions involving cyclists and pedestrians be taken more seriously by police.

And yes, I was one of them, along with the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition staff member Bobby Gadda, to represent the LACBC. As well more than a dozen others who took time out of their day to fight for greater safety on our streets.

The Commissioners and Chief Beck were very receptive, and have asked for specific examples of cases where people feel the police weren’t responsive enough or didn’t take their case seriously.

If you were the victim of a hit-and-run and weren’t satisfied with the police response, let me know and I’ll forward your story to the right people in the department. You can find my email address on the About BikingInLA page.

Update: Bicycle Fixation’s Richard Risemberg forwards news of yet another violent hit-and-run, in which a 91-year old woman was critically injured in Lincoln Heights, and left lying  in the street by the heartless coward behind the wheel.

Evidently, the was operating two vehicles at once, as the Times reports police are looking for a white Toyota or beige Honda Accord with a cracked windshield and front bumper damage. The driver is described as a Latina between between 53 and 58 years old, weighing around 170 pounds.

This has got to stop.

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