Against all odds, justice prevailed in Culver City.
According to the Culver City Patch, Christine Dahab has been charged with felony DUI and DWI in the June collision that left 13 cyclists injured — some seriously — when she plowed into a group of riders stopped on the side of West Jefferson Place.
The DA’s office charged Dahab on Nov. 11 with violating California Vehicle Code Section 23153 (A) [Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol causing injury], and California Vehicle Code Section 23153 (B) [Driving while Intoxicated above a .08 blood alcohol content, causing injury].
Both charges are felonies. Dahab wil be formally arraigned at the Los Angeles Airport Court on Dec. 22.
Many local cyclists had given up on ever getting justice in the case, following an initial finding by the LAPD that the cyclists were at fault for standing in the roadway.
According to the finding, the riders became pedestrians the moment some had dismounted from their bikes to wait for stragglers, and so could not legally stand in the roadway — even though most, if not all, of the riders were waiting in the parking lane rather than the traffic lane.
And police falsely claimed that Dahab’s visibility was limited by a blind curve, even though a subsequent test by local riders made it clear that the cyclists should have been readily visible to any non-distracted driver.
To make matters worse, some irresponsible members of the press quoted an unidentified LAPD officer implying that the riders were engaged in a drunken orgy in the middle of the street, noting the presence of beer bottles and condoms in the area where the cyclists were waiting. Yet failed to observe that the area is a popular hangout for people looking for a secluded place to party, and that they could have been left there days or weeks before.
It’s a slander that has entered the public consciousness, as shown by today’s report by LAist that claimed authorities had “found alcohol, condoms and marijuana used by the group.” Even though no reports at the time had ever connected the objects to the riders themselves.
Fortunately, later examination of the city limits revealed that the collision had actually occurred in Culver City.
And while it may have taken a long time, the results indicate that the CCPD took the matter seriously despite the LAPD’s initial finding, and an investigation hampered by the reluctance of many witnesses to come forward.
Thanks to Steve Herbert for the heads-up.
Thanks to the efforts of cyclist/attorney Dj Wheels, we finally have a name for the cyclist who was killed at 8th and Francisco in Downtown L.A. last July.
While the collision was initially reported as collateral damage in a road rage case, the LAPD investigators quickly ruled that out for a lack of evidence, despite witness reports that the driver had been arguing with another driver.
Instead, police investigators ruled that Victor Apaseo-Rodriguez was killed as a result of a narrowed roadway, combined with drivers angling to enter a freeway onramp.
Part of the delay in identifying Rodriguez was the difficulty contacting his next of kin, who lived outside the country. Yet even after they were notified, I was unable to get either the name of the victim or the driver charged with causing his death, despite repeated requests.
Fortunately, Wheels succeeded where I failed.
Acording to Wheels, the driver, Phillip Goldburn Williams, was charged with a misdemeanor count of vehicular manslaughter without gross negligence on October 6th, and arraigned in Metro Court Dept. 60 on October 28th, case number 1MP09818. However, Wheels notes that Williams’ attorney did not enter a plea at that time, and the case has been continued to January 19, 2012.
It will be interesting to watch this case move forward, and see if there’s a reason why authorities were so reluctant to release information that should have been a matter of public record
Speaking of Dj Wheels, we both had a brief scare earlier in the week when it appeared that disgraced Long Beach Fire Captain John Hines had been released on time served, despite a sentence of one year in Orange County jail.
And even that seems like a slap on the wrist for critically injuring cyclist Jeffery Gordon while driving drunk at nearly three times the legal limit — then driving home, reportedly without slowing down, leaving his victim bleeding in the street.
This from a man trained to save victims just like the one he caused.
Fortunately, it was all a misunderstanding.
Wheel’s had followed up on Hines’ incarceration, only to discover that the OC Sheriff’s inmate locator page said Hines had been released at 9:40 am on November 30th. What it didn’t say, and what was missing from all the news stories about his sentencing, was that the judge took the current prison overcrowding problems into account in crafting his sentence, and ruled that Hines can spend his time in an approved city jail, monitored by the county probation department.
In effect, it’s a tougher sentence then he would have gotten in county lockup, where Hines could have enjoyed a Lindsay Lohan-like express route through the system, and been released after serving less than half his already light sentence.
Now he will be required to serve out the full time.
Wheels also notes that the judge specifically structured the sentence to prevent Hines from getting credit for his time in rehab. And that his five-year probation following his release won’t be an easy path, but instead will require monthly reporting duties and fees, along with possible warrantless searches — and that any screw-up anywhere along the way could mean an immediate trip to state prison to serve out the remainder of the probationary period.
So maybe, just maybe, this was less a slap on the wrist than a swift kick in the ass.
Despite reports to the contrary, Stephanie Segal has not been sentenced in the death of cyclist James Laing.
There was some confusion when she was expected to plead to guilty at a hearing on November 29th. However, the defense balked after asking the judge for an indicated ruling — that is, an estimate of what the sentence would be if the defendant changed her plea in open court.
When the defense heard a possible sentence in excess of nine years, they immediately withdrew the plea; a preliminary hearing is now scheduled for December 13th.
It sounds like the judge is giving this case the serious consideration it deserves, and for a change, intends to hold Segal fully accountable for getting drunk and killing another human being.
Now if we could just get him to talk with the CHP.
Last night, I received an email from one of the two riders who tried to assist Carol Schreder immediately after the collision that took her life on Mulholland Hwy last Saturday.
In it, he described comforting her until the paramedics arrived, noting that she was unresponsive, but did manage to squeeze his hand as he held hers. He did not want to share the devastating details in the comments on here, but wanted to come forward to help her family and friends as they try to piece together what really happened that day.
Personally, I can’t think of any higher act of kindness that any person could perform than to simply be there for someone so badly hurt, and let her know she’s not alone in her time of need. My heart goes out to him as he continues to struggle with the painful memories of that morning.
As well as my thanks for stepping up to help a total stranger.
He also mentioned that a doctor came along to help before the paramedics arrived, as well as a photographer to took some pictures of the collision scene. And sure enough, earlier this morning I saw a photo posted online that appeared to show Schreder’s bike shortly after the wreck.
While there was nothing identifying it as the bike she’d ridden, it looked identical to her bike in every way, and was dated the same day as her collision.
But what the photo showed was shocking.
While the CHP has stated that the driver’s van and trailer jackknifed, striking Schreder’s bike with the right rear of the van, this photo clearly showed the aftermath of a rear end collision. The rear wheel of the bike was jammed under the van’s left front wheel, and a gash in the frame corresponded to the upper ridge of the van’s front bumper, with the van coming to rest at a nearly 90-degree angle to the side of the road.
Simply put, it would have been physically impossible for the bike to have ended up in that position if the collision occurred the way the CHP described. Which calls into further question their already dubious decision not to file charges or ticket the driver, calling it just an “unfortunate accident.”
Unfortunately, shortly after I emailed the photographer to ask for permission to use his photo, the shot disappeared from his website, and I have not received a response as of this writing.
I can only hope that he will do the right thing.
And regardless of whether he ever lets me share it with you, that he will forward it to the CHP and Schreder’s family, so they can get the justice they deserve in this case.
Finally, in one of the most bizarre cases I’m aware of, a Virginia driver is fined just $500 for recklessly running down a German tourist touring the U.S. by bike — then initially fleeing the scene before returning, claiming he was chasing a mythical driver who forced him off the road.
That’s $500 for putting a visitor to this country into a coma he may never come out of.
And that’s what too often passes for justice for cyclists in America.