Cases Against Two Hit-and-Run Drivers Roll On

8_24_09_die_in.jpgCyclists stage a “die-in” where Jesus Castillo was killed during April’s Critical Mass.

Last Thursday “DJ Wheels” spent his day attending the arraignment of Robert Sanchez, the driver accused of killing Rod Armas and his fourteen year old son at the end of the L.A. Wheelman’s June Grand Tour Double Century and then pedaling downtown to get an update on the trial of Alejandro Hidalgo, the driver accused of killing Jesus Castillo in a hit-and-run last April.

Ted Rogers already has most of Wheels’ account at Biking In L.A., but I wanted to add a couple of my own thoughts.  First, both drivers are being accused of “gross vehicular manslaughter” and “driving under the influence.”  Sanchez is also accused of “3)Cal. Vehicle Code 20001(a) – failure to stop after an accident involving an injury” and Castillo of “driving under the influence with a B.A.C. over .08.”

A few thoughts here.  In the Sanchez case, the D.A. told the judge that Sanchez’s blood-alcohol level was at .05 “five hours after the crash” which makes me believe that he could have been at .08 when he killed Armas and maimed his son.  Also, Sanchez was found two hours after the crash in a parking lot.  Why did it take three hours to submit a breathalyzer test? Are west coast treatment centers so overflowing that the state is trying not to find drunk drivers after a driver caused fatal crash?

In the Castillo case, the driver is charged with multiple drunk driving charges but not for the hit-and-run.  It was hours after Castillo was killed that the police picked up Hidalgo yet “hit-and-run” isn’t included.

Regardless, both of these drivers are facing steep jail sentences if found guilty of these killings and of course the families of the two victims will be dealing with the results of these crashes for the rest of their lives.

While I might nit-pick the legal strategies to bring these drivers to justice, it’s doubtless better than the justice that will be seen will be better than that seen by the cyclist killed by an LADWP driver on June 1.  In that case the LAPD determined the cyclist at fault because she was “riding in a crosswalk” and even worse “riding the wrong way in a crosswalk.”  Of course, cyclists are allowed to ride in a crosswalk under the Los Angeles Municipal code, and there’s no such thing as “riding the wrong way in a crosswalk.”


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