Last night, at the end of the “KoreatownWednesdays” Midnight Ridazz ride, a couple of dozen Ridazz were standing at the bottom of the Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook waiting for the rest of the ridazz to make it down the hill. The ride begins every week in Koreatown and heads to the overlook. There the group parks their bikes, ascends the hill and takes in the view. I’ve never done the ride, but I’m told it’s a pretty low-key ride, runs at a fast clip, and is very peaceful at the end.
Unfortunately, for the group of Ridazz at the bottom of the hill, it was not a peaceful night. Rider AIDS66 writes on Midnight Ridazz:
We were waiting for everyone to make their way down from Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook as this shit happened. I saw a car speeding towards us and thought doesn’t the driver see us, NO…. Drunk bitch took out the whole ride. some of us got out of the way just in time but many took the brunt force of the hit.
CBS 2 has the most in-depth media report on the incident, and notes that there were nine victims of the crash, three of whom were hospitalized. The driver was taken into police custody under suspicion of DUI. No word yet on the results of her alcohol level or what she is being charged with. Some Ridazz said they saw her talking on her phone, but that hasn’t been reported in the media. The media is near-unanimous in its reporting that the woman was driving sixty miles per hour during the collisions.
While our thoughts and prayers go out to the injured cyclists and those scarred by witnessing the crash, I can’t help but notice the soft bias in the media against some of the cyclists in the reports. The worst example is from KABC.
After noting that the police were critical of the cyclists for wearing dark-colored clothing and standing in the street, the broadcaster also notes that, “…there was beer bottles and condoms where the cyclists were hanging out.” Unless the reporter, or the reporting officer, is implying the cyclists were having a drunken orgy in the street that shielded them from view, I’m not sure how either of those facts are relevant. First off, one Koreatown Rider reports they were standing in the shoulder, so even if they shouldn’t have been in the street, the driver shouldn’t have been in the shoulder (an earlier version of this story said “bike lane” instead of “shoulder.”) Second, who cares if they were drinking (they probably were) or using condoms (they probably weren’t). Unless the police/KABC believe a victim was so drunk they jumped in front of the car the drinking is immaterial.
Compare that to the CBS report:
Here the reporter focuses on the driver’s actions talking to witnesses, humanizing the victims and noting that the driver was drinking red bull, smoking and was doubtless distracted (at-best).
We’ll continue to update this report as more details are released. If you want to help make certain that the driver is prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, one poster at Midnight Ridazz drafted a letter to the District Attorney’s Office. You can email the D.A. through this link.
This morning I am greatly upset and angered by the news of a driver who injured 11 cyclists with her car. I am writing to make it known that the driver who drover her car into a group of cyclists in the Baldwin Village area in the early morning of Thursday, June 16, 2011, must be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the laws. For committing such a heinous act as she has, which is both irresponsible and reckless in nature, this driver can be shown no mercy for her careless actions behind the wheel of a weapon. Justice is the least of what the victims of this incident are due. It is my sincerest, deepest hope that this woman is fully stripped of her driving privileges for a number of years.
Bearing the effects of her actions, intentional or not, the sentence should reflect fully the damage she has caused to so many lives–not just those who have been injured, but to those who bore witness, as well as the entire community of Baldwin Village, Los Angeles, and vulnerable street users such as cyclists and pedestrians, as well as all road users. I understand that it is early and the full details of the incident have yet to fully be revealed, yet the greater cause and effect are apparent and warrant a severe sentence, that at any level, would only begin to serve as due penance for a crime of this nature. This driver has most clearly abused her privilege to operate a motor vehicle, and in doing so has robbed people of their livelihood and, in many ways, their futures. It is simply a miracle that no one was killed, but when actions such as the drivers are capable of causing death, such as hers have been, they should be viewed as hugely life-threatening and be punished for the damage caused as well as the damage that was fully possible.
(Update: Sgt. David Krumer reports that the Culver City Police will handle the investigation, as the crash occurred just inside their limits. If you have any information, contact Culver City Police, Traffic Bureau: (310)253-6200)