Tag Archive for fatal hit-and-run

Update: 50-year old cyclist killed by hit-and-run driver in South L.A.

As reported here last night, a cyclist was killed in a hit-and-run collision in an unincorporated area near Compton.

The bike rider, identified as 50-year old Enrique Lemus Bautista, was riding north on Avalon Blvd when he was hit by a dark colored car travelling west on Redondo Beach Blvd shortly after 9 pm Tuesday. The car, described as a black BMW, never stopped.

According to the Daily Breeze, witness reports conflicted, preventing CHP investigators from determining who had the right-of-way. It was also unknown if the driver was speeding.

No other information is available at this time.

As far as I’m concerned, though, anyone who leaves another human being to die in the street should be charged with murder, regardless of who is at fault.

This is the 50th confirmed traffic-related cycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the 16th in L.A. County. It’s also the 10th fatal hit-and-run involving a cyclist, and the 4th in the County of Los Angeles.

Thanks to Rex Reese for the KCBS-2 link.

Breaking news: Dominique Rush — and father — arrested in hit-and-run death of Alex Romero

Funny how things work sometimes.

For the past few months, I’ve known the identity of the woman accused of killing 17-year old cyclist Alex Romero last April, thanks to a comment that was left on here.

And the last couple of weeks, I’ve known that an arrest was imminent, and that a family member was likely to be arrested for helping her coverup the crime.

But when the news finally broke, I was couple hours from home in the middle of bike ride. Which means I got scooped by just about every news source in Los Angeles.

That’s okay, though. Because the good news is that the LAPD investigators never gave up, even when it looked like they might never get the evidence they needed to make an arrest, let alone get a conviction.

So when I got a call from LAPD Sgt. Krumer to let me know that 23-year old Dominique Rush had finally been arrested in Oxnard for the high speed hit-and-run collision that took Romero’s life, I was happy that Alex and his family would finally see justice for his needless death.

And a little heartbroken when he added that the family member accused of helping to cover up the crime was her own father, 44-year old Steven Rush.

After all, what kind of man learns that his child has just taken the life of another human being, then — allegedly — goes out of his way to help her hide the evidence and avoid responsibility for her actions?

According to KNBC-4,

“The father went way beyond taking care of his child,” said Capt. Ivan Minsal of LAPD Valley Traffic Division. “He concealed the information. He concealed the car that his daughter, the driver, was driving.”

Maybe my own father was the exception.

But I’d like to think that most fathers would have marched their child into the police station to take responsibility for the crime. Maybe after calling a lawyer first.

I know mine would have, as much as it would have broken his heart.

Dominique was booked on suspicion of gross vehicular manslaughter and felony hit-and-run, with a $100,000 bond; Steven was held on a $20,000 bond. No word on whether they are still in custody.

Honestly, I don’t know which act I find more appalling. The crime, or the coverup.

I’m only glad that both may now be held accountable.

And I thank the LAPD for making sure they didn’t get away with it.

Hit-and-run driver kills cyclist in Carlsbad; driver found hiding in bushes

It’s happened yet again.

Another hit-and-run, another dead cyclist in North San Diego County, only a few miles from where Jim Swarzman was killed in April.

This time, though, the alleged drunk driver was found before she had time to sober up, hiding in some bushes near where her car was found.

According to multiple reports, 64-year old Arthur John Jacobs of Vista was riding southbound near the intersection of El Camino Real and Cassia Street around 9:45 pm last night when he was hit by a vehicle allegedly driven by 23-year old Julianne Elyse Thompson. A witness reportedly told police that Thompson’s vehicle hit the curb and some bushes, then sped off into the nearby Villa Loma apartment complex.

When police arrived, they found Jacobs lying in the street; he was pronounced dead at the scene.

After a brief search, Thompson was found hiding in the bushes near where her vehicle, which has not been publicly identified, had been abandoned. She was arrested on suspicion of vehicular manslaughter, felony hit-and-run drunk driving.

This is the 43rd confirmed traffic-related cycling fatality so far this year, and the 10th in San Diego County; one other cyclist was killed in a shooting this year. It is also the third fatal hit-and-run death of a cyclist in SDC this year, and the second in which the driver was known to be intoxicated.

Thanks to David Huntsman for the heads-up.

Update: Fernandez convicted in Swarzman death, sentencing scheduled Sept. 12

About an hour after I wrote that Joseph Fernandez had been convicted in the death of Encino cyclist Jim Swarzman last April, the North County Times confirmed the initial report I had received.

Despite speculation that the quick verdict resulted from a plea deal, the 46-year old driver was found guilty of hit-and-run causing death in a two-day bench trial conducted by Vista Judge K. Michael Kirkman, after Fernandez waived his right to a jury trial.

Sentencing is now scheduled for September 12; no word on whether Fernandez will remain in custody until then. He faces a maximum of four years in state prison.

Swarzman, an experienced long-distance cyclist was riding in the Leucadia section of Encinitas with his fiance and another rider as part of a 600k sponsored by the San Diego Randonneurs when he was struck from in a violent collision; the driver reportedly sped off as Swarzman’s bike exploded.

Fernandez turned himself in the next day, reported saying he thought he may have hit something over the weekend.

Four years hardly seems sufficient for a crime like this, in which an innocent, well-loved man has his life snuffed out by a driver who was careless at best, and ran away without stopping to render aid or take responsibility for his actions; given the violence of the collision, it seems impossible that he was unaware that he had hit someone.

But at least we’ve got a conviction and his loved ones have some sense of justice,  unlike another recent case.

Breaking news: Joseph Fernandez guilty in death of Encino cyclist Jim Swarzman

I’ve received an unconfirmed report that Joseph Fernandez waived his right to a jury trial today in the killing of Encino cyclist Jim Swarzman, and was found guilty by the judge on a single count of hit-and-one causing death. More details as they become available.

Thanks to @sonofabike for the tip.

When will it ever stop? El Segundo cyclist killed by hit-and-run driver July 4th; Rybicki improving

You knew we weren’t going to get through the holiday weekend without bad news.

Early morning on the 4th of July, those fears were confirmed when a hit-and-run driver took the life of 32-year old cyclist George Loudon in El Segundo. Loudon was reportedly making his was home from work when he was hit from behind while riding northbound on Vista Del Mar near Dockweiler State Beach in El Segundo.

The exact spot of the collision is unclear; reports say the collision occurred near Hyperion Way, which does not appear on online maps.

Loudon was pronounced dead at the scene.

Authorities reportedly don’t have any description of the suspect vehicle; anyone with information is asked to call the LAPD at 213/473-0222.

This was the second fatal hit-and-run in the L.A. area in just 24 hours, as a pedestrian was killed in San Pedro on Sunday.

Loudon’s death was the 35th confirmed cycling traffic fatality in Southern California this year, and the 10th in Los Angeles County; three of those fatalities have been the result of hit-and-runs.

And I’m still looking for confirmation of two other possible deaths in the past two weeks, including one in East L.A.

Maybe one day we’ll finally be able to celebrate our independence from cowards who flee the scene after killing or injuring another human being. As far as I’m concerned, there’s no lower form of life; it’s long past time we stop treating hit-and-runs like traffic collisions and start treating them like the crimes they are.

My prayers and condolences to Loudon’s family and friends.

Update: The Daily Breeze reports that Loudon, who lived in Venice, was riding through a “dark and desolate” area wearing dark clothing and without reflectors; whether he had a light is not mentioned. His body was found by a passing motorist, so there is no clear indication of exactly when he was hit. Police note that the vehicle should have significant damage to the front end.

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I’ve been hearing some unfortunate rumors about Adam Rybicki, the cyclist critically injured in a collision with an allegedly drunk, underage driver in Torrance last April.

So let me clear up any confusion.

Adam has been transferred to a rehab facility, and continues to show improvement. While he still has significant impairment due to his injuries, the latest reports are that he is able to communicate using a white board and is working hard at his recovery.

Clearly, he has a very long way to go, and prayers and positive thoughts are still needed.

But overall, the news is good. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

Valencia sentenced, BOLO for killer car, arrest in Angeles Crest road rage and 3 feet 2 pass passes

Lots of news to catch up on while I take a break from work.

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First up, Marco Antonio Valencia has finally been sentenced in the drunken and high hit-and-run death of Joseph Novotny over two years ago. Valencia had an estimated BAC of .23— nearly three times the legal limit — as well as methamphetamine, cocaine and marijuana in his system at the time of the 11 am collision.

The now 22-year old driver will spend the next 26 years to life in state prison.

Unlike some other notable cases, there’s no satisfaction or sense of victory in this case. At least, not for me.

Just an overwhelming sense of sadness that two lives ended that day — Novotny and the man who killed him — because we as a society couldn’t manage to keep a repeat, underage drunk driver off the roads.

And fear of how many more Valencia’s there are out there just waiting to happen.

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Next up, there’s BOLO alert in the hit-and-run death of Alex Romero on the Valley’s Canoga Park Blvd last April.

Authorities have identified the car used to flee the scene after killing Romero in a high-speed collision, and traced it first to Palmdale, then San Pedro before losing track of it. As a result, you’re urged to be on the lookout for the following vehicle —

SUSPECT VEHICLE:

2003 TOYOTA COROLLA 4 DOOR, LIGHT GRY OR SILVER

LIC PLATE: 5FCA061

(REGISTERED TO ADDRESS IN PORTER RANCH)

MISSING RIGHT SIDE MIRROR & FRONT EMBLEM, DAMAGE TO RIGHT PORTION OF WINDSHIELD, AND POSSIBLE FRONT GRILL DAMAGE

Anyone with information about the crime is asked to call Valley Traffic Detective Krajchir, at (818) 644-8034. During non-business hours or on weekends, calls should be directed to 1-877-LAPD-24-7. Anyone wishing to remain anonymous should call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (800-222-8477). Tipsters may also contact Crime Stoppers by texting the word “TIPLA” and the message to phone number 274637 (C-R-I-M-E-S on most keypads) with a cell phone. Tipsters may also go to www.lacrimestoppers.org, click on “Submit a Tip” and follow the prompts.

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An arrest has been made in the case discussed here recently in which a driver was accused of threatening cyclists on Angeles Crest Highway.

According to the Arcadia Patch, Earl Clyde Cox of La Crescenta threatened two separate groups of cyclists along the highway in a road rage incident.

Frighteningly, he reportedly told deputies that the riders weren’t being considerate, so he appointed himself as a driveway vigilante fashion and set out to teach them some manners.

I have a feeling he’s going to learn some the hard way himself.

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There’s good news from Sacramento for a change, as the proposed three-foot passing law passed the state Assembly’s Transportation Committee.

According to the California Bicycle Coalition, the measure passed on an 8 to 5 vote after an hour of impassioned testimony, including support from Bakersfield Senator Michael Rubio, who spoke as a private citizen and cyclist.

Not surprisingly, the AAA — both NorCal and SoCal editions — came out strongly against the bill, suggesting that it be made optional for drivers. So basically, they think their members should have the right to buzz you if the mood strikes.

Meanwhile, a lobbyist for the Teamsters insisted on their members’ right to continue killing cyclists by passing too closely.

Now the bill moves on to the full Assembly, which means it’s time to flood your own representative with letters of support for SB 910.

Let’s end with this quote from CBC Executive Director Dave Snyder —

“…Yesterday’s hearing offered a sobering reminder of how far California still has to go to ensure that everyone who uses the roads can do so safely. It’s disturbing to see AAA and the Teamsters try to defeat a measure that would give drivers – those with the greatest potential to harm others on the road – clear guidance on how to share the road more safely. Drivers who ride bicycles or know someone who does should be deeply concerned about how they’re being represented before lawmakers in Sacramento.”

On second thought, let’s end on this from Cyclelicious, as he urges you to support another bill, SB 582, that could begin to level the playing field for those who prefer to commute via something other than four wheels.

Like a bicycle, for instance.

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There’s been a non-development in Dr. Christopher Thompson’s appeal of his conviction in the Mandeville Canyon Brake Check, in which the Good Doctor tested his stopping power by slamming on the brakes in front of two riders, seriously injuring both.

According to cyclist/attorney Dj Wheels, the oral arguments scheduled for Wednesday have been cancelled after Thompson’s attorney declined to argue his case.

Evidently, that’s not unusual. And since the appellant chose not to appear, the attorney for the People of California chose not to appear, as well. After all, there’s no point in responding when there’s no one to respond to.

So what’s next?

Brace yourself. According to Wheels,

In the normal course, the case will be “submitted” tomorrow (Wednesday), without oral argument, and the court will have 90 days from that date to file its opinion.  If the conviction is affirmed, appellant will have the opportunity to seek rehearing, if he can identify a very specific error in facts in the Court of Appeal.  He can also, and universally will, file a petition for review in the California Supreme Court, identifying specific issues under specific conditions that would justify a  grant of review in the Cal. Supreme court.  He may also collaterally attack the conviction in the California courts by means of a writ of habeas corpus.  For those federal claims that have been exhausted in state court, he may then file a petition for writ of habeas corpus in the federal district court, which could lead to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals and the US Supreme Court.

In other words, we’ve got a long damn row to hoe before the case involving this particular repellant appellant is finally settled.

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Jury selection is scheduled for Wednesday in the case of Gordon Catlett Wray, the driver accused of killing local scientist and cyclist Doug Caldwell and injuring fellow rider Scott Evans; opening arguments will follow either Wednesday afternoon or Thursday morning, depending on what time jury selection concludes. The trial will take place at the San Fernando Courthouse, 900 Third Street in the city of San Fernando, case #0SR05313. Cyclists are urged to attend to show their support for the victims.

Update: I’ve just been informed that the charge against Wray is misdemeanor vehicular homicide; as always, that could be reduced if there’s a settlement.

Thanks to John Stesney for the reminder.

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Outrage from cyclists has had an effect in Mississippi, as a local DA has agreed to reopen the investigation into the hit-and-run driver who ran over a cyclist, got out of her car to look at her, then got back in and ran over her again. The victim was victimized yet again when authorities concluded that her actions weren’t prohibited under Mississippi and there was nothing they could charge her with.

Hopefully, a more thorough scouring of state laws will turn up something this time.

Personally, I vote for attempted murder. Or at the very least, a couple counts of assault with a deadly weapon.

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Finally, thanks to George Wolfberg, and Tim Rutt of Altadenablog, for forwarding the New York Times report on noseless saddles designed to help put a little less pressure on the groins of male riders, and help them get a little more wood out of the saddle.

Not that you have a problem with that, of course.

71-year old Canoga Park man killed by hit-and-run driver

In yet another fatal hit-and-run, a 71-year old Canoga Park man died of injuries he received while riding in a crosswalk around 12:15 pm Saturday.

According to the Daily News, Eduardo Perez was hit by a small black 4-door SUV in a right hook collision while riding his bike at the intersection of Sherman Way and Canoga Avenue. The vehicle was traveling east on Sherman Way when it hit Perez while turning onto Canoga; the driver fled without stopping.

Perez died Monday in a local hospital.

Anyone with information is urged to call Detective Danny Martinez at 818-644-8032 or Detective I. Krajchir at 818-644-8034; or cal Crime Stoppers anonymously at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).

This is the 7th fatal hit-and-run in Southern California this year, and the 10th bike-related death in L.A. County since the first of the year.

In related news, police have identified a suspect in last month’s hit-and-run death of 17-year old Alex Romero, killed on De Soto Avenue when he was run down by a speeding driver attempting to pass a large vehicle on the right.

The LAPD is being tight-lipped about the details while they attempt to make an arrest.

Update: Teenage driver tries to pass himself off as witness in Fountain Valley hit-and-run

Late last night, I reported on the death of a cyclist in Fountain Valley, with virtually no information other than the time and location of the collision.

As usual, the morning brings more details.

An anonymous tip reported that the case was a hit-and-run, and that a 19-year old driver had been arrested after calling police investigators claiming to be a witness.

Now the Long Beach Press-Telegram confirms Huntington Beach resident Adam Garrett was arrested yesterday after further investigation revealed he was the driver in the collision, rather than an innocent bystander.

Twenty-five-year old Hung Khac Do, also of Huntington Beach, was riding west on Warner Avenue near the 405 when he was allegedly hit by Garrett’s 1994 Toyota Camry just after 3 am Sunday, and left in the street to die as Garrett fled the scene.

My source reports that Garret had previously been ticketed for failure to stop at a stop sign, as well as failing to wear a helmet while bicycling while still a minor. Now he’s under arrest for suspicion of felony hit-and-run, facing up to four years in prison, plus any additional charges that may be filed.

Police are urging anyone with information to call the Fountain Valley Police traffic bureau at 714/593-4481.

He is the 29th cyclist to be killed in Southern California so far this year — an average of 1.5 each week — and the 5th to be killed in Orange County since January 1st. This is the 6th fatal hit-and-run involving a cyclist this year.

My deepest sympathy to the friends and family of Hung Do.

Satnam Singh to be arraigned today for Wednesday’s drunken triple hit-and-run rampage in Ventura

According to cyclist/attorney Dj Wheels, Satnam Singh will be arraigned today for the alleged triple hit-and-run rampage on Telegraph Road in Ventura.

Singh’s drive home from work Wednesday evening left five people injured, starting with a mother and daughter riding their bikes single file in the bike lane, followed by a family stopped at a red light in their pickup. And ended, tragically, with the death of 20-year old Ventura College student Nick Haverland as he road his bike to take his final exams.

And yes, I’m resisting the urge to call it murder. Just barely.

Let alone what I think about someone who could do this.

It is possible that Singh was so drunk he had no idea what he was doing. But I’m waiting to see what his blood alcohol level was at the time of his arrest; speaking strictly for myself, I’d consider anything less than .20 to be proof of intent.

If you’re in the Ventura area today, I’d strongly suggest attending the arraignment if you can. A room full of cyclists would go a long way towards showing just how seriously we take this case.

Wheels reports the hearing will take place in Room 13 of the Ventura County Superior Court, 800 South Victoria in Ventura. If you can make there, I’ll be happy to share whatever thoughts or impressions you may have.

Meanwhile, thanks to the Ventura County Star for their moving profile of Haverland; I’ve complained many times that press coverage too often reports the barest facts following a collision, without ever giving a hint of the human being behind the story.

The Star makes it very clear just who he was.

And that his death was a loss, not just for his family and friends, but for all of us.

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