Culver City Crash UPDATE: Victim statuses, Felony DUI, new interviews, and the Justice Ride
(Previous posts on Bikeside about the Culver City Crash – #1, #2, #3 – and a nice comprehensive post at LA Streetsblog. UPDATE: added a section below about Felony DUI and whether Dahab can be charged with it.)
An update on the Culver City Crash (CCC) which injured eleven cyclists and left six hospitalized is long overdue. I’ll update you on the status of the victims, explain why Dahab can still be charged with Felony DUI, share a couple videos, and provide a little commentary on the Justice Ride that took place Friday to visit the victims.
Victims recovering, but they’re not out of the woods yet.
All of the six hospitalized cyclists have undergone significant surgeries to stabilize them and set broken bones. Some victims are set to be discharged, or have been discharged already, although our information is imperfect on precisely how that’s unfolding. Other victims though, particularly “C”, a 16 year old woman badly injured, and “D” are doing poorly, and face further surgeries and hospitalization. They may also have permanent disabilities from the crash.
We’ll just use letters to identify the victims for privacy’s sake. Here’s the present situation to the best of our knowledge:
- C – this cyclist suffered the worst injuries of all, and has been sedated or in a medically induced coma since the crash. Reportedly C has severe head trauma, broken ribs, a broken pelvis, and fractured vertabrae. We have heard that C is no longer permanently sedated and is awake at times, but C’s family is reluctant to speak w/ media about her status.
- D – D appeared to be out of the woods when I visited on Saturday, but was suffering headaches and severe pain related to a brain bleed. Now things have taken a turn for the worse – D is on a morphine drip but her headaches are so bad that she still hits a 10 out of 10 on the pain scale every few minutes. Apart from the headaches, D’s left leg is completely shattered beneath the knee, and held together by a metal rod, and her left leg is also broken.
- R – was going under for another surgery when I last received an update. R had face lacerations, a broken nose, a broken jaw, broken arm and leg. When I visited on Friday with the Justice Ride R seemed to be A-ok mentally, enough so to look at me like “who is this stranger asking me all these questions.”
- D – D is for Dana, who you saw interviewed by Mike Bowers in the last update. She has two broken legs and a separated shoulder, but she was spunky and fun to be around when I visited Friday. Well managed pain seems to make the difference for patients. She is supposed to be discharged soon. It’s gotta be tough to go from strong cyclist to having two broken legs, but I think Dana is just the person to make it look easy.
- B was released – by all reports – on Sunday. He has a shattered knee, broken leg, and multiple breaks. I didn’t get to meet B at Cedars on Friday, but I look forward to a future meeting.
- “Ca” is the missing woman that everyone was worried about. It turns out she was in Cedars all the time, but we didn’t know a last name so it was tough to find her. She’s having a tough time – she has a fractured temporal bone, severe concussion, and face and scalp abrasions, contusions and lacerations.
- J – there’s some thought that there is still one cyclist we have not found, a friend of Ca. We’ll keep looking.
A number of these cyclists have no family to support them out here in California, and they need a lot of help during their rehabilitation. So several of the discharged cyclists will be leaving California to return to their home states. For me, that really drove home how severe this crash was. I oscillate between “how can we make sure this never happens again” and “throw the book at Christine Dahab.” People with two broken legs having to move home just makes me think we should find a bigger book to throw.
Why Dahab can & should be charged with Felony DUI
I’ve heard more than a few people lament that because Dahab blew a .07 on her blood alcohol content (BAC) test at the station, and the legal limit is .08, she cannot be charged with DUI. Of course this is a huge concern because DUI is an appropriate and serious charge. As I’ll explain, Dahab can still be easily charged and easily convicted of Felony DUI.
Dahab was charged with DUI – specifically Misdemeanor DUI – after the collision, and that fact gives the clue about whether Dahab can be charged with Felony DUI, a charge that carries with it significant jail time. How could Dahab be charged with Misdemeanor DUI if she blew below .08?
To charge someone with Felony DUI you only need to show that:
- 1) They were under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or a combination at the time, and
- 2) they violated a law, and violating that law led to
- 3) causing bodily injury to another person.
This is the content of CVC 23153 (a), which you can see at the bottom of this section. Notice that the legal limit of .08 is not mentioned, and in fact the commonly cited version of drunk driving where one blows a .08 or greater is given by the next section of 23153: section 23153 (b).
Note that causing bodily injury is what separates Felony DUI from Misdemeanor DUI. Bodily injury means a severe injury, such as a broken bone. In this case we have at least six victims with bodily injury, so condition (3) is met. Dahab admitted to drinking, blew a .07 at the station and .08 at the scene, and numerous witnesses reported that she drove erratically. So she was definitely under the influence, satisfying condition (1).
Did Dahab violate a law that led to the injuries in this case? That is the question we must ask and answer in order to know if she can be charged with Felony DUI. I think this is an easy one: she did violate a law leading to these injuries. I’ll bet she violated more than one law, such as driving too fast for conditions, but the easy one is 21954 (b). 21954 (b), which I wrote about in a previous post, states that a driver must exercise due care for the safety of pedestrians in the roadway, regardless of whether those pedestrians were in the roadway legally or not. Since cyclists not riding their bikes are classified as pedestrians in this case, 21954 (b) would apply. Dahab had a responsibility to exercise due care, and hitting at least eleven people is indication that she did not.
Move on to those interviews, but I’ll paste 23153 (a) and 21954 below so you can read them. First, 23153 (a):
23153. (a) It is unlawful for any person, while under the influence of any alcoholic beverage or drug, or under the combined influence of any alcoholic beverage and drug, to drive a vehicle and concurrently do any act forbidden by law, or neglect any duty imposed by law in driving the vehicle, which act or neglect proximately causes bodily injury to any person other than the driver.
21954. (a) Every pedestrian upon a roadway at any point other than within a marked crosswalk or within an unmarked crosswalk at an intersection shall yield the right-of-way to all vehicles upon the roadway so near as to constitute an immediate hazard.
(b) The provisions of this section shall not relieve the driver of a vehicle from the duty to exercise due care for the safety of any pedestrian upon a roadway.
One of LA Cycling’s best videographers has been hard at work interviewing crash victims. CoolAssMike aka Mike Bowers has some new interviews up. First up Byron Gonzales:
and then Magnus, who was not injured but witnessed the crash and took these photos of the scene:
Photos of Justice Ride
I was going to tell you about the Justice Ride, which was a ride put together Friday to visit the victims at Cedar Sinai and UCLA, but I’m beat, and I gotta get some sleep so I can kick ass on this tomorrow. So here’s a photo story: