Tag Archive for Hailey Cushman

Morning Links: Ventura DA gives form letter response, deadline to support candidates opposing Koretz and Cedillo

Evidently, the Ventura County District Attorney can’t be bothered to respond individually to complaints about how they do their job.

Or in this case, don’t do it.

Last week, we featured a heartbreaking guest post from Hailey Cushman, daughter of Jesse Cushman, who was one of the two people killed by an allegedly distracted driver in Moorpark last fall.

Several people were inspired to write the DA’s office to complain that the driver, Rachel Hill, was only charged with misdemeanors in their deaths, rather than the felony counts the CHP recommended. And isn’t expected to spend a single day behind bars.

On Tuesday, I heard from three separate people who received the exact same response from the DA’s office, identical in every word, space and comma.

And not only that, one that they couldn’t even be bothered to respond to personally; each was signed simply “Webmaster.”

RE: Ventura County District Attorney Contact: Refile People vs. Rachel Hill as a felony

Tue, 21 Jun 2016 21:03:47 +0000

DA Criminal <DA.Criminal@ventura.org>

Dear Ms. xxxxx

Thank you for contacting the District Attorney’s Office. While we appreciate your concerns regarding this case, we are required to make difficult decisions, which include filing only those criminal charges that we have legally sufficient, admissible evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt in court. The case was reviewed and filed by a veteran prosecutor in our Criminal Division. Please understand that the decision to file this case was not made lightly. The District Attorney’s Office conducted a thorough review of the investigation done by the California Highway Patrol and our conclusion is reflected in our filing decision.

Webmaster

Ventura County District Attorney

Nice to see they take complaints — let alone the lives of traffic victims — so seriously over there.

Maybe the good people of Ventura County should ask themselves if this is really what they want from their DA.

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It’s time to put your money where your vote is.

Recently we reported that CD5’s Paul Koretz, who has taken it upon himself to singlehandedly set bicycling on the Westside back 20 years, will be facing a challenger in next year’s election.

Which means his opponent, Jesse Creed, already has my support before I even meet the guy.

However, the end of this month marks an important fundraising deadline for candidates for LA City Council.

So if you’re as pissed-off as I am about Koretz siding with wealthy homeowners at the expense of everyone else — let alone claiming to be an environmentalist while blocking bike lanes that would enable people to leave their cars at home — dig as deep as you can to make a contribution to his campaign.

And while you’re at it, send another one to Josef Bray-Ali; the owner of NELA’s Flying Pigeon LA bike shop is taking on Gil Cedillo in CD1, thanks in part to Cedillo’s ongoing efforts to keep North Figueroa dangerous.

Send your check to:

Bray-Ali for City Council 2017, 3346 N. Figueroa St., Los Angeles, CA 90065. Be sure to include your name, address and employer, which is required in order for his campaign to legally accept the contribution.

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Speaking of Koretz, the motions to remove Westwood Blvd and Central Avenue from the Mobility Plan come back before the Planning Commission at 8:30 am tomorrow, on the 10th floor of City Hall in Downtown LA.

It’s not looking good at this point. So we need everyone to attend if you can, or if not, reach out to the commission to demand a safer, and more rideable Los Angeles.

Maybe if we show overwhelming support for keeping them in the plan, the commission — and more importantly, the city council, which will consider it next — may actually listen.

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If your plans for today included a ride along the upper reaches of the LA River Bike Path, you may want to reconsider.

The path will be closed from 8 am to 3 pm today between Glendale and Fletcher Blvds for major cleanup work following the removal of the flood control barriers.

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Caught on video: A Philadelphia bike rider is run off the road and threatened by a driver who fled the scene, then can’t get the police to give a damn.

Thanks to Thread Riot for the heads-up.

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The New Yorker offers photos from 75-years of bike racing. Which is not the same as cycling, despite the headline.

Six African riders are on track to compete in this year’s Tour de France, including Eritrea’s Daniel Teklehaimanot, who became the first black African to compete in the Tour last year.

A British amateur rider conquers the Tour de France’s famed Col du Tourmalet in just three and a half hours; even more impressive considering he’s just eight-years old.

If you want to hear Lance talk about cycling, skip his new podcast.

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Local

The LA Times endorses plans for a half-cent transportation sales tax, while calling bicycling and walking “a vital part of the transportation infrastructure that has been too often overlooked.” Meanwhile, Metro’s CEO calls it an opportunity to be bold, while a pair of Inglewood and West Hollywood leaders say speed up completion of the north-south train lines.

Kill four people who were walking in a Redondo Beach crosswalk, admit to taking pain killers before getting behind the wheel, and get off with time served.

Damien Newton discusses Metro’s open streets program, as well as Sunday’s 19-mile 626 Golden Streets.

While everyone else is offering advice on how to ride in the heat, contrarian CiclaValley tells you what not to do while cycling in it.

 

State

Caltrans’ survey for their first-ever draft bicycling and walking plan will close at the end of this month.

San Diego unanimously approves plans for nine miles of protected bike lanes in the downtown area, along with five miles of wider sidewalks.

Three San Diego area mayors call for approval of that county’s proposed $18 billion sales tax measure to fund transportation projects, including bicycle and pedestrians projects.

Monterey considers installing its own bikeshare system.

A new line of smart bikes from the Bay Area will come complete with built-in lights, turn signals, brake lights and an electronic shifting system, along with an open OS that will allow developers to add additional features.

The executive director of the Sonoma County Bicycle Coalition hopes to have more time to ride his bike once he steps down at the end of this month.

 

National

People for Bikes considers how Kickstarter is kick-starting innovation in the bike industry.

Kryptonite increases the amount of optional anti-theft protection coverage they offer with their locks, while streamlining the registration process.

The Denver CO 2011 bike plan calls for investing $119 million to build an additional 270 miles of bike lanes; four years later, it had only spent $2.8 million to stripe 68 miles of new lanes. Sounds like another city I could name.

This is how Vision Zero is supposed to work. Austin TX makes safety improvements to an intersection just weeks after a 14-year old boy was killed riding his bike.

Houston adopts an ambitious new bike plan calling roughly 800 miles of new bike lanes within the next ten years.

The annual Remember the Removal ride will finish on Thursday, as members of the Cherokee Nation and Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians retrace the infamous Trail of Tears from Georgia to Oklahoma.

A Memphis woman is behind bars after threatening to shoot a bunch of kids in a dispute over a stolen bicycle. Seriously, no bike is worth dying for. And it’s sure as hell not worth killing anyone over, especially not a kid.

Cincinnati’s Red Bike network has expanded seamlessly into Northern Kentucky to form the country’s first multi-state bikeshare system.

Minneapolis makes plans to unseat Portland as America’s bicycling capitol.

Seriously? A Massachusetts driver is expected to be released on a whopping $1,000 bail after being charged with possession of heroin and cocaine, driving with an open container, driving to endanger and driving under the influence when he knocked a woman off her bike. Nice to see the court system taking DUI seriously. And yes, that is sarcasm, in case you weren’t sure.

More proof cyclists are tough. A New York man rode his bike home after getting shot in the stomach.

 

International

Caught on video 2: An Ottawa, Ontario bike rider’s rear-facing cam captures the driver who smashed into him from behind; fortunately, he walked away from the crash.

A bystander jumped into a London river to save the life of a 68-year old bike rider who had fallen in.

A British paper offers advice on how to ride in the rain. Which is not a problem we’re likely to have anytime soon.

A stoned driver in the UK gets seven years in prison — and a 10-year ban on driving — for killing a bicyclist after using heroin and prescription medication.

An Irish soccer fan rides nearly 375 miles to the Euro championships to raise money for cancer charities, only to get mugged on arrival in Paris; fortunately, women working at the Gare du Nord train station chased off the men who tried to steal his bike.

An Aussie cyclist says riding 2,600 miles across the continent in just 32 days can change your life, especially if you almost die twice, get bitten by a snake and caught in a cyclone.

A Singapore women’s non-profit group rode through Cambodia to raise awareness and funds for a hotel and restaurant training school trying to stop human trafficking.

Caught on video 3: A Chinese sidewalk cyclist barely avoids being run down by an out-of-control driver who smashed into a clothing shop.

 

Finally…

If you’re going to use your bike as a getaway vehicle, maybe you should only steal one box of frozen chicken at a time. It’s not a bike helmet, it’s a speaker with a hockey puck on top.

And when is a bike lane not a bike lane? When it’s a contraflow traffic lane, of course. Thanks to kdbhiker for the video.

Guest Post: The cost of traffic violence — the daughter of a distracted driving victim speaks out

Last year, an alleged distracted driver plowed into a cyclist in Moorpark, then swerved into motorcyclist coming in the opposite direction, killing them both.

Recently, the daughter of one of those victims asked for the opportunity to tell her story. 

This is what she has to say.

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Hailey Cushman’s Story

My name is Hailey Cushman and I am Jesse Cushman’s only biological child. My dad was killed on September 12th, 2015 on his way home from work from BMW Motorcycles located in Ventura. He was hit head-on on his motorcycle in Moorpark, CA by Rachel Hill, who was later found to have been texting and driving. Hill first hit bicyclist Maciek Malish then over-corrected and swerved to hit my father. Both men were killed on impact but Hill only walked away with scratches. In fact, Hill was caught taking pictures of her injuries and posting them on her Facebook the next day as if the accident was humorous to her. This tragic event happened just 9 days before my 21st birthday (in which I had plans that were immediately cancelled and never rescheduled). Dad was going to be 44 years young in October 2015. He was born in Simi Valley, CA but lived most of his life in Reno, NV, which is where I live. Within a couple days of the accident I was down in Fillmore, CA, where dad currently lived with my grandmother, Jorja, and my stepmother, Julia. Julia and dad married in 2002. When dad moved to Southern California he was brought closer to his biological father, Joe Freas, who lives in Thousand Oaks, CA. Joe and dad were in the process of trying to rekindle their relationship after years of separation.

As a child I was lucky to have never experienced a close death in the family but that aspect has also made losing my father at this age extremely difficult for me. My dad had an exciting, fulfilling and fun life. My dad was Batman! My dad and Julia were heavily involved with cosplay and all things comics. Dad had several Batman suits that were so legit that he was in several professional photo shoots. That year dad and Julia won free tickets to the San Diego Comic Con, which they had been trying to attend for years. Dad and I enjoyed doing a lot together when I would come visit in the summer time; we would go boogie boarding in Malibu, go to Six Flags Magic Mountain several times a month (it was our favorite together), race quads (he raced professionally but he also taught me how to ride and I was too racing at just 5 years old). As a family, we would frequently play video games and board games as they owned a plethora of Monopoly games and superhero video games. We would even get the whole family involved with Rockband and have somebody on each instrument. Another big part of my dad and Julia’s life was motorcycles. They were a part of the local STAR riding chapters where they would do toy drives, poker runs and many other fun rides with the group. My grandma would always worry about dad on his motorcycle because she knew the risks but both dad and Julia were very cautious riders. I guess this proves that no matter how cautious you are in life you can never fully protect yourself from others.

Since I lost my dad my life has changed forever. I’ve had to see more psychiatrists lately for stress, anxiety and depression in order to keep my job and continue my college education (which I am close to finishing). I am so young and I have so much of my life ahead of me but my father will not be able to be there to walk me down the aisle at my wedding, be there at the birth of his grandchildren, see me graduate college or buy my first house. The Cushman and Malish family’s lives have forever been changed and will always hurt when we think about this tragic incident. We try to put our minds at ease by thinking about how Rachel Hill will have to live with what she has caused these two families for the rest of her life as well, but unfortunately, we are unable to rely upon the justice system to make her accountable. We have recently been told by the Ventura County District Attorney’s office that Hill may not even receive any jail time but only community service. The Ventura County District Attorney’s office is certainly corrupt. The CHP took 8 months to complete the police report to ensure they had all the information and evidence to create a strong case. The CHP’s recommendation was that Hill should be charged with a felony of two counts of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence. Within 2 weeks of the Ventura County District Attorney receiving the case they decide that Hill only be charged with a misdemeanor!

Now, I am a smart and educated person. I have been going to school for 16 years (total) and this is not what I was taught in how our justice system operates! When you kill another person due to reckless driving you go to jail! End of story! Rachel Hill is only getting a slap on the wrist for killing TWO innocent people. I spoke with the assistant District Attorney who informed me that they did not have enough evidence to prove gross negligence, even though they had all of Rachel’s text message conversations showing she was texting while driving leading up to the accident. Hill has been able to spend the last 9 months with her family through the holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas, which were especially hard times for both the Cushman and Malish families. Now that Father’s Day is less than one week away my heart aches just thinking about that empty feeling I will have now not being able to celebrate it with my dad. No amount of money or punishment on Rachel Hill’s behalf will ever bring my father or Maciek Malish back but it would at least be nice to have a piece of mind knowing that Rachel Hill’s life would be forever affected with jail time, a felony and two counts of manslaughter on her record for the rest of her life the same way that our family will forever be devastated about this loss and injustice. Not a single person I have spoken to agrees with the District Attorney’s decision of a misdemeanor (besides the Hill family). We need to bring attention to this obvious injustice and corruption of our justice system by bringing publicity to this case for both the Cushman and the Malish family in hopes to one day begin to heal from this tragic loss.

From left to right: dad, Julia, grandma and me. Disneyland 2012 celebrating mine and Julia's graduation, grandmas birthday and dad and Julia's anniversary.

From left to right: Dad, Julia, Grandma and me. Disneyland 2012 celebrating my and Julia’s graduation, grandma’s birthday and Dad and Julia’s anniversary.

Dad and Julia's wedding picture: June 12th, 2002.

Dad and Julia’s wedding picture: June 12th, 2002.

Dad in his amazing Batman costume!

Dad in his amazing Batman costume!

My favorite picture of dad and I at Disneyland.

My favorite picture of Dad and I at Disneyland.

R.I.P. Jesse Cushman. I love you!

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Reducing, let alone eliminating, traffic fatalities will be impossible as long as prosecutors refuse to take even the most egregious cases like this seriously. 

If you’re as angry as I am about this case, contact Ventura County DA Gregory D. Totten, and politely — but firmly — demand that the case be re-filed as a felony.

Hailey, and all the families and loved ones of both victims, deserve better.

As do we all.

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