UPDATE: Video, Christine Dahab blew a .07, LAPD preliminarily blame cyclists
(there is a ride to visit and support the victims – the Justice Ride. It meets at Media Park AKA CRANK MOB Park in Culver City, which is at the corner of Venice Bl and Canfield. 2:30pm to 5:30pm tomorrow, Friday. I’m sure there will be rides to come, but if you can make it out tomorrow (Friday), please do. Facebook invite.)
UPDATE: two victims had surgery last night. Separately, one victim is in a medically induced coma with severe head trauma. A fourth victim cannot be found – no one knows her full name and law enforcement does not know what hospital she was taken too.
I went to the Cyclist LAPD Task Force this afternoon where Captain Kelly Mulldorfer, head of LAPD’s West Traffic Bureau, and Detective Jimmy Render briefed us on what LAPD knows about the vile collision in Culver City Wednesday night. By all reports Christine Dahab hit and injured at least 11 cyclists who were on the Kushtown ride. Several cyclists were in critical condition today, and several had surgery.
The most interesting details to me were 1) Dahab blew a .07 blood alcohol level at the station, and 2) LAPD stated, preliminarily, they believe the Primary Collision Factor (PCF) was “pedestrians in the roadway.” This latter portion only sunk in with me later, as I was late to the meeting, but it is a huge mistake and I think it demonstrates something of a bias in favor of motorists.
Before I mention some further details, CoolAssMike of 1000Bikes.org went to Dana “Dirtysouth”s hospital room and inteviewed her. Dana was hit hard by Dahab last night, and broke both legs. Needless to say they had her on a morphine drip during the video, so cut her some slack:
I’m tired as hell, so here’s some key details:
- Dahab blew .08 in an initial test, and later blew a .07 at the station.
- LAPD is preliminarily saying that the primary cause of the collision is “pedestrians in the roadway”
- Dahab, according to LAPD, has pristine driving record
- Culver City PD will be taking over the case in the next few days. The collision took place in Culver City near the border with LA, but in the dead of night, no one was sure whose jurisdiction it was in. Living in this area, I can believe that because the Culver City borders are crazy and convoluted.
- The assertion that Dahab came around a blind curve is a mountain of bullshit. Jefferson gently curves in that area. But it’s not a blind curve unless you’re driving 70 mph or you’re blind drunk. It is however a stretch of road that is mostly traffic light free, and motorists book it there.
- LAPD is still receiving (as of this afternoon) emails from witnesses saying their statement wasn’t taken.
- There were no skid marks at the scene.
- Three street lights in the area were out.
- Witnesses have said that Dahab tried to run. Captain Mulldorfer said that the collision did not qualify as a hit and run, and that Dahab indicated she drove some distance from the collision because she felt “the crowd was hostile.” Makes sense, they had every right to be hostile.
- One Cyclist LAPD Task Force participant mentioned that people had tracked down Dahab’s Facebook page, and that she had listed an 818 number as her cell phone number on the page. The Facebook page has since been disabled.
- LAPD would not be able to pull records of cell phone usage unless there was witness testimony that Dahab was using her cell phone.
- LAPD reports that Dahab has a pristine driving record.
I just want to rant briefly about LAPD’s preliminary finding that the primary collision factor (PCF) was “pedestrians in the roadway.” The PCF, even the preliminary PCF, informs and guides the investigation. With a prelimnary PCF that puts the blame on cyclists, investigating officers are likely to investigate with a bias in favor of the motorist. That’s a big problem, especially when you’ve got cyclists in the ICU and a motorist who was D.R.U.N.K.
Moreover, it doesn’t make sense. If you look within LAPD and SWITRS data on collisions, a PCF if always listed and determined. The PCF is listed as a code number for the California Vehicle Code – such as “21954 (a)”. This indicates that law enforcement believes that one of the parties violating 21954 (a) is the primary reason that the collision happened. Notice the underlying assumption – if a collision happens, someone must have violated the law . . . else how can list a violated code as the PCF? Now one can get real philosophical about that – do we really believe that there is no way for two lawful road users to follow the rules and still have a collision? I think that is far fetched, but that’s how most law enforcement think.
I’m not certain what CVC code was the PCF, but my hunch is that “pedestrians in the roadway” means they believe that someone violating this code – CVC 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.
is the PCF. I’d make a good case for being drunk as the reason Dahab clobbered a bunch of cyclists. I could make that case, or we can just keep reading CVC 21954 we’ll get to CVC 21954 (b), which says:
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.
Dahab had a duty to avoid the collision. If she somehow couldn’t see the upwards of 11 cyclists she injured, then she was driving too fast for conditions. Specifically, she was driving too fast for her headlights to adequately light the road in front of her. Or she was DRUNK (can we lower the legal limit already?)
So you could argue just as well that CVC 21954 (b) is the PCF.
Final note – Culver City PD isn’t fond of cyclists. They’re known for that. A lot of people know they don’t like CRANK MOB or Taco Tuesdays, but the fact is CCPD had a bad rep with cyclists as far back as I remember – all the way to the pre-Santa Monica Critical Mass days. I’m sure there are exceptions in the department, and I hope that there are, but I wouldn’t expect this to be any easy road to justice.