Breaking news — Christine Dahab sentenced to one year in county jail for Culver City 13 collision

July 26, 2013

LA bike lawyer Daniel Jimenez, known in the bicycling community as Dj Wheels, reports that Christine Dahab will spend the next year behind bars.

As noted yesterday, Dahab was sentence today at the Airport Courthouse for her role in the Culver City 13 collision, in which 13 riders were injured, some critically; initial reports said 11 riders had been injured.

Dahab was intoxicated and allegedly driving distracted when she plowed into the group of riders taking a break on the side of Jefferson Place, on the border between LA and Culver City. She entered a guilty plea in April, and was ordered to complete a 90-day evaluation period in state prison.

According to Jimenez, after victim impact statements were read today, she was sentenced to an additional 16 months in state prison; however, that was suspended in lieu of 365 days in county jail. She will likely receive credit for the 90 days already served.

The reduced sentence was most likely imposed as a result of California’s current prison overcrowding; the state is sending many prisoners to local jails to comply with a court order to reduce the prison population.


Christine Dahab sentencing Friday, LA City Council takes up hit-and-run reform, Gardena police sued

July 26, 2013

Just a couple quick notes to wrap up a busy and exhausting day.

First up, a comment from Renee Andreassen sends word that Christine Dahab, the allegedly drunk and distracted driver who plowed into 13 bicyclists on a late night ride in Culver City in 2011, will be sentenced on Friday.

Christine Dahab, who hit 13 bicyclists June 2011 will be sentenced Friday July 26, 2013 at 
West District
Airport Courthouse,
 11701 South La Cienega Blvd.
 Los Angeles, CA 90045
 Dept D

I hope all of the victims will come to give their victim impact statements. 
I would appreciate any assistance this website can get out to those impacted by this horrible event

Dahab pleaded no contest to all charges last April, apparently including DUI causing injury and DWI with a BAC over .08 causing injury.

She was sentenced to a 90-day evaluation period in state prison pending final sentencing. So she’s already spent more time behind bars than most drivers do even in fatal collisions. And could face a lot more.

I have other obligations Friday, so if anyone attends the sentencing, please let us know how it turns out.

………

Hit-and-run rears its ugly head once again in L.A. But this time, they may actually do something about it.

From the blog of the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition:

The Public Safety Committee will hear the LAPD report on Friday, July 26th at 8:30 AM in City Hall Room 1010.  Please join LACBC in requesting that the City take a leadership role to fix state law to increase penalties for hit-and-run.  You can also write the committee members at councilmember.englander@lacity.org, councildistrict15@lacity.org, councilmember.bonin@lacity.org, and councilmember.ofarrell@lacity.org.

No matter how you parse the numbers — and the LAPD has been roundly criticized for attempting to put the best face on a dismal record — the city ranks at or near the top among major cities for cowardly drivers refusing to take responsibility for their actions behind the wheel.

Fortunately, the department appears to be taking the problem seriously. And they seem to have been listening to me, with recommendations including:

  • Automatic license consequences — hopefully including revocation
  • Possible hold or forfeiture of the vehicle used in the crime
  • More significant consequences, including tougher penalty enhancements
  • Limit civil compromises
  • Extend the statute of limitations for hit-and-runs that result in death or serious injury

………

Not surprisingly, Gardena police are being sued for civil rights violations and excessive force in the shooting death of Ricardo Diaz-Zeferino, who was killed by police while trying to help recover his brother’s stolen bicycle.

Diaz-Zeferino reportedly ran up to police as they held guns on two of his friends, shouting in English that they weren’t the thieves, but were trying to help find the bike.

And that’s when they shot him eight times, including twice in the back. As well as hitting one of his friends, resulting in permanent injuries.

Not that they overreacted or anything.

………

Finally, the arraignment for Gonzalo Aranguiz Salazar, the driver accused in the death of Cal Poly Pomona bike rider Ivan Aguilar, has been postponed until September.

Salazar faces a single misdemeanor count of vehicular manslaughter without gross negligence. The relatively light charge may reflect the fact that was reportedly Aguilar riding against traffic, as many students do in that location, due to a lack of safe bicycling infrastructure.

Meanwhile, discussions are underway to make much-needed bike and pedestrian safety improvements on campus.

Hopefully before someone else gets killed.


Christine Dahab enters guilty plea in 2011 Culver City Massacre, faces minimum 90 day sentence

April 8, 2013

Most of us who have followed this story from the beginning never thought this day would never come.

It was just less than two years ago that a car driven by an allegedly drunk and distracted Christine Dahab plowed through a group of cyclists stopped alongside a Culver City roadway, injuring 13 riders, some seriously.

The case took a turn for the worse almost immediately, as the initial, highly biased LAPD investigation blamed the victims for allegedly standing in the roadway — even though they were actually in the parking lane — and suggested that she could not have seen them there because of a blind curve that didn’t exist.

And some members of the media irresponsibly implied that the riders had been engaged in a drunken orgy, noting the presence of empty liquor bottles and condoms near the collision site. Yet failed to note the collision occurred near a popular lovers hangout or that the inflammatory items could have been there for days or weeks, let alone connect them to the riders in any way.

Meanwhile, some misguided motorheads applauded Dahab’s apparent efforts to decrease the excess cyclist population.

Fortunately, the Culver City Police Department took over the investigation after it was determined that the collision occurred just inside the CC city limits.

The CCPD investigators refused to give up on the case, even when it would have been far easier to follow the LAPD’s lead and let Dahab off the hook. Especially when many of the witnesses, some of whom may have been under-aged, were reluctant to come forward.

However, their painstaking investigation eventually led the L.A. District Attorney’s office to file felony charges of DUI causing injury and DWI with a BAC over .08 causing injury.

But in the 16 months since then, the case seemed to fall off the radar as a then-pregnant Dahab missed at least one court date, and other more recent and higher-profile cases took priority in the minds of local bicyclists.

Even I managed to forget the case was still ongoing as nothing appeared to take place.

But looks can be deceiving.

Frequent contributor Dj Wheels now reports that Dahab unexpectedly entered a guilty plea last week. And even more surprisingly, according to the cyclist and attorney, she did it without a plea deal in place, throwing herself on the mercy of the court.

On Tuesday, April 2, 2013, Christine Dahab entered a plea of no contest to all counts. She has pled “open to the court,” meaning she didn’t bargain for a lesser sentence but rather will ask for leniency from the Judge directly based on a diagnostic evaluation to be completed by the Dept. of Corrections while she is in custody.

She will surrender directly at a CA State prison on April 22, 2013.

She will remain in custody for the 90 day evaluation period, a report will be prepared by the Dept. of Corrections and sent to the Judge in Dept. D with its recommendations for sentencing.

April 22 is also on calendar as a probation/sentencing hearing, but they will probably just select a future date for the sentencing hearing which would have to be beyond the 90 day diagnostic period.

Victims will be notified of the actual sentencing date so that they can give their victim impact statements in court to the Judge to take into consideration when making his sentencing order.

So even if Dahab is released at the of her evaluation, she will have spent at least 90 days in custody — more than many drivers receive in fatal collisions.

And depending on the results, she could face considerably more.

Not bad for a case almost no one outside the cycling community, including the driver herself, seemed to take very seriously.

Thanks to Dj Wheels for the heads-up. And to the CCPD and DA’s office for fighting for a conviction few of us expected.

………

The Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition wants your help to keep the Spring Street green lanes green in light of continued ridiculous attacks from some in Hollywood who value their locations and free parking more than your safety.

The LACBC is also sponsoring a cash mob next Sunday in support of the provisional road diet and bike lanes on Rowena Ave.

Meanwhile, a bilingual newspaper group bizarrely fears bike lanes on York Boulevard could fuel a violent bikelash against bike riders.

………

BOLO Alert: Be on the lookout for a stolen black and white Cannondale SuperSix taken near Silverlake around 4 Sunday afternoon.

………

KCRW traffic maven Kajon Cermak discusses the effects of L.A.’s newly synchronized traffic signals; seems like if I get stopped at one light on my bike, I get stopped at all of them. Rumors are L.A. will soon merge the Department of Planning with Building and Safety. Not surprisingly, Los Angeles leads the nation in traffic congestion. The proposal for a $3 billion bond issue to fix L.A. streets is back; as I said before, as far as I’m concerned, it’s dead in the water unless it includes a provision for speeding up Complete Streets and fixing our broken sidewalks. The Emerald Necklace plan proposes 16 park and bike path projects along the Rio Hondo and San Gabriel rivers, while writer for the San Gabriel Valley Tribune says only CEQA can make a project like that sound bad; thanks to BikeSGV and Megan Lynch for the heads-up. Better Bike says take your money somewhere else as the Biking Black Hole punts on promised bike racks. Cycling in the South Bay writes beautifully about early morning rides on the city’s deserted streets. Santa Monica will host its first Kidical Mass this Saturday.

Peace activist Cindy Sheehan is biking cross country for her Tour de Peace, with stops in Santa Monica and Claremont on Sunday. New sharrows hit the road in Redlands. San Diego is slowly becoming more bike-friendly. Cyclelicious lists hearing dates for bike-related bills in this year’s legislature, while Calbike shares their 2013 legislative agenda; I don’t see the third attempt at a three-foot law anywhere on their list. A Salinas hit-and-run driver is under arrest after striking a man riding a child’s bike. A San Jose man is sentenced to a well-deserved 41 years in prison for killing two men and injuring another in a road rage assault; thanks to Ralph Durham for the link.

As any cyclist could tell you, bans on using hand-held cell phones or texting while driving aren’t working; an estimated 660,000 Americans use their cell phones while driving every day. Too many drivers don’t look for pedestrians — or bicyclists — when they turn left. Legendary 1920s baseball commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis dropped out of high school to take up bike racing. People for Bikes discusses what to wear, or not, while riding, while an Oregon writer debates the need for underwear under bike shorts; kind of defeats the purpose of a good chamois, mais non? An Oregonian takes up bike commuting in response to rising gas prices. Seattle’s Department of DIY installs their own protected bike lane. An Anchorage man completes the 2,000 mile Iron Dog sled dog trail in 40 days on a fat tire bike. A South Dakota man tragically demonstrates the risks of off-road mountain biking. A Galveston driver gets a well-deserved 10-year sentence for fleeing the scene after killing a cyclist, even though the rider reportedly ran a stop sign. A Dallas councilmember suggests repealing the city’s mandatory helmet law to encourage bicycling. This Louisiana tour sounds like about as much fun as you can have on a bike. A Wisconsin legislator want to legalize some cases of drunken bike riding to allow pedal pub crawls. A Minneapolis cyclist survives an attack with a Molotov cocktail. If you’re carrying a loaded .38 with an outstanding New York warrant, don’t ride on the damn sidewalk, already.

A Vancouver writer looks into mandatory helmet laws, and changes his mind. In a horrible collision, a Montreal cyclist falls under a truck after hitting a stopped car, then is killed when the light changes and the truck pulls forward. Four in 10 Brits now ride bikes, including one out of every two men and over half of Londoners. The London Times corrects seven common bicycling myths. A UK council votes to remove a ghost bike three years after the victim is killed. Yet another British bike racer has been hit by a car while riding; this time, its gold medalist Joanna Rowsell. A Liverpool pedestrian dies a day after a collision with a bicyclist, after deciding not to wait to see an emergency room doctor. A Cambridge bike rider nearly has his belongings seized after he’s mistakenly fined the equivalent of over $1,000 for riding without lights. Eddie Merckx Cycles promises to advance bicycle design by investigating bike stability and possibly put an end to death wobbles. A young American cyclist gets a last-minute call to ride in Sunday’s Paris-Roubaix, won by Fabian Cancellara in a sprint over 24-year old Sep Vanmarcke. Spanish cycling legend Miguel Poblet passes away at 85; he was the first España rider to wear the yellow jersey. Women cyclists dread Aussie roads, while an Australian woman calls for more riders in dresses and heels; thank goodness I’ve got the legs for it. Canberra cyclists have doubled in numbers over the last nine years, while Adelaide cycling is up 10% over the last year after increasing 20% the year before. Yes, there should be fewer cyclists in Lycra, but only because there should be more cyclists wearing anything they please; couldn’t have said it better myself. Earthquake damaged Christchurch plans to rebuild with Copenhagen-style separated bikeways.

Finally, a bike riding Korean War chaplain is awarded a posthumous Medal of Honor, and may be considered for sainthood. And a Brooklyn writer offers advice to motorists on how to stop hitting him with their cars.


Christine Dahab to face felony DUI charges, ID in July Downtown bike fatality, Cpt. Hines behind bars

December 8, 2011

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.


CCPD asks Culver City witnesses to come forward; LA bike community to hold major press event Thursday

June 29, 2011

Culver City police are asking for anyone who may have witnessed the collision earlier this month in which an alleged drunk, speeding and distracted driver collided with a group of late night riders on Jefferson Blvd.

Anyone with information is urged to come in to police headquarters to review a photo reconstruction of the event. If you were there, or know people who were, contact CCPD Officers Davis or Newman at 310-253-6254. Thanks to Jim Shanman of the Culver City Bicycle Coalition for the heads-up.

And clear your schedule for tomorrow morning, when a wide spectrum of the Los Angeles cycling community representing cyclists of all types — myself included — will come together for a press event to protest the botched LAPD investigation and biased press coverage of this case, and make a public call for safer streets and fair investigation into all cycling incidents.

……..


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