Two Cities, Two Draggings, One Night (UpdatedL 11:16 A.M.)

You didn’t read that wrong.

In Alhambra a seventy-eight year old man was run down in his wheelchair while crossing the street in a crosswalk.  According to Alhambra police, there was no way that the driver could not have been aware that he had collided with Shih-Saing Ho’s wheelchair.  From the story on ABC7 (video above):

Police said Ho was familiar with the area and was a longtime
Alhambra resident, often visiting his sister, who also lived in the
area. Ho was heading home from his sister’s house when he was struck
from behind. Given the extensive damage to the wheelchair, police said
the driver must have known that they hit someone.

"It was
pretty well demolished," said Alhambra Police Sgt. Brandon Black. "It
had been flattened, it had been disassembled by the impact. Personally,
I have never seen one in that bad a condition after an accident."

Meanwhile in Los Angeles, the police were able to track down the woman who slammed into a pedestrian after she had drug her victim for a mere half-mile.

A female pedestrian was killed Thursday after a vehicle hit and dragged her several city blocks in downtown Los Angeles.

Police were able to catch up with the suspect just before 1 a.m. at the intersection of 5th and Los Angeles streets.

Authorities believe the victim was hit at 7th Street and Ceres Avenue,
and the female driver dragged the woman about a half-mile. Police had
to pull the driver over to get her to stop. She is now in police
custody.

And I haven’t even gotten into the cyclist injured in a hit-and-run in North Hollywood.

Sometimes the news conspires to remind you that no matter how safe one tries to be on the road, the reality is all the precautions in the world won’t save you from an unsafe, uncaring, and dangerous driver.  Hopefully the police and prosecutres treat these "accidents" as the assaults that they really are.  One doesn’t have to be as diabolical as Dr. Thompson to be a menace behind the wheel.

(Update: The LAPD is now referring the the half-mile dragging in the Downtown as murder per ABC7.)

  • I’m sorry but irresponsible urban road engineering shares a large part of the blame, as does a generally indifferent law enforcement culture when it comes to “accidents”.Bad drivers also face little or no penalties for their acts, and their privledges are often quickly restored.

  • Joe

    You know i used to say that if you hit somebody in a crosswalk it will only make more time in your transit, so you should slow down and pay attention.

    Well I guess some people think you don’t have to stop if you hit somebody. So I guess my point is now mute.

    As long as your in your car, causing great bodily harm to someone is ok and just an accident according to police.

  • Negligent driving is not accidental. Drunk driving is not accidental. We need to stop considering motive and start considering the crime committed. If you get behind the wheel of a vehicle that can be used as a deadly weapon, being negligent or impaired–whether by talking on a phone or being drunk or allowing yourself to be distracted in some way–should be considered intent to harm others. Talking on the phone while driving should be a misdemeanor. More than one DUI and you lose your ability to be licensed in the State of CA. People need to be responsible for their actions. Why would you ever re-license someone who had been charged and convicted of a DUI? I have never understood this.

  • Spokker

    “Hopefully the police and prosecutres treat these “accidents” as the assaults that they really are.”

    Damien, what matters is intent. The downtown dragging was such that the driver was clearly gunning for her victim. That’s going to be a murder case.

    The other cases, if the drivers had stopped, are clearly accidents. There may be negligence involved, and I definitely believe there is (and I would support both drivers having their licenses suspended, even if they had stopped). But assault, no.

  • Spokker

    The guy in the motorized wheelchair was riding in the street because of poor sidewalks. If the driver had stopped, I would be less likely to support a charge of negligence. But he probably ran because he has a warrant out for his arrest or something, so now it’s a crime.

  • Spokker

    Damien, you should really correct the Alhambra part. The article clearly says, “People who live in the area said Ho would often ride his motorized wheelchair down the road instead of the sidewalk, likely because the ride was smoother. However, the ride was more dangerous because visibility was lower in the dark tunnel.

    Black said Ho should not have been riding in the traffic lanes.”

    He was not in the crosswalk, at least according to this article.

  • “The other cases, if the drivers had stopped, are clearly accidents”

    Regardless of fault of an initial collision, as far as I am concerned once someone hits someone else and makes the choice to not stop to render aid, a duty and obligation of being a driver, that is intent, yes intent, to cause harm to another human being. A person seriously injured or unconscious cannot seek out assistance on their own, that is why it is a duty and obligation to stop.

  • Spokker

    Well, I believe that those who flee face a maximum sentence of seven years in prison if the victim dies or suffers a permanent injury. You can certainly work on efforts to raise the maximum punishment, but I doubt it would ever be the equivalent of cold-blooded murder.

  • Erik G.

    Ho could have been in a Copenhagen-style bicycle track (they are also used by electric wheelchairs in that city) if Caltrans and the city had built one in the first place.

    http://blog.fagstein.com/2009/08/17/expanded-definition-of-bike/

    Of course, as per the California MUTCD, a Copenhagen-style bicycle track:

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/16nine/4151233332/

    …is illegal in the State of California. (OK, not exactly, but the entity building one would be out of compliance and would thus be liable for any incidents)

  • DJwheels

    Spokker

    Actually, the maximum penalty for a hit and run conviction involving death or permanent, serious injury is only FOUR years in state prison and a fine of no more than $10,000 under Cal. Vehicle Code Sec. 20001(b)(2). Also, the minimum for a hit and run involving death or permanent, serious injury can be as little as a $1000 fine.

    Even the maximum penalty for simple vehicular manslaughter without gross negligence is no more than ONE year in the county jail under Cal. Penal Code Sec. 193(c)(2).

    Unlike the DUI laws, driving privileges are not even automatically suspended for hit and run convictions. It goes down as two points on your record. However, a judge may decide to suspend your license after a hit and run conviction, but it’s not required by law.

  • Spokker

    A lawyer friend of mind says that if the sidewalks forced the man in the wheelchair into the street, the family should sue the entity responsible for sidewalk maintenance.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

New Livable Streets Group Rises in Alhambra

|
Earlier this year, urban planner and Streetsblog Board Member James Rojas wrote about a harrowing experience he had while trying to cross the street in his home town of Alhambra.  While the cause of the experience was some poor driving, the urban planner in Rojas couldn’t help but believe that with better design, Alhambra could […]