Los Angeles News

Driver slams into group of bicyclists, injures 11

Thursday, June 16, 2011
A suspected drunk driver was taken into custody after plowing into a large group of bicyclists in Baldwin Village.

A suspected drunk driver was taken into custody after plowing into a large group of bicyclists in Baldwin Village. (KABC Photo)

A suspected drunken driver was taken into custody after plowing into a large group of bicyclists in Baldwin Village early Thursday morning. Nearly a dozen people were hurt.

"It was as simple as a bowling ball knocking out a few pins," said witness Fred Armstead. "There was no attempt to stop. So she just went one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, and just kept going."

Authorities said the female driver, 27-year-old Christine Dahab, told police she was looking down at her phone when she crashed into the bike riders on the 5900 block of West Jefferson Place just before 2 a.m.

The bicyclists, organized by Midnight Ridazz, ride together regularly and were on a routine ride. The group of bicyclists was waiting for friends below the Baldwin Hills scenic overlook at the time of the accident.

"The car just went straight towards the crowd, no swerving, no anything," said witness Cesar Arce.

Witness Kevin Martinez said people were sent flying into the air "like ragdolls."

"I seen it coming. After that, I just blacked out and woke up on the floor," said one injured cyclist.

"A lot of people rushed to the car to make sure she wasn't going to leave, you know, try to stop her, because she was dragging like two kids," said witness Steven Jimenez.

Another rider said he warned others to get out of the way.

"I saw her first, and then I started calling everybody out, 'Hey everybody, merge right, get out of the bike lanes to the sidewalk,'" said one bicyclist. "She slows down. She sees us, I think, and I could see her engine rev, and she just takes everybody out."

"We do this every Wednesday. Every single Wednesday," said one cyclist. "And we've never seen this before."

Authorities said 11 people were hurt. Nine of those people were hospitalized, and one of them was listed in critical condition. The victim in critical condition, identified by friends as Roger Lucas, broke the windshield when he landed on the car upon impact.

Dahab was arrested on suspicion of DUI, officials said. Her family says she lives in an apartment near the accident scene. She was held on $15,000 bail.

"It appears that they were stopped in traffic" and some who had dismounted to chat with friends technically were pedestrians, said Sgt. David Krumer, the LAPD's bicycle liaison.

Bicyclists have a legal right to use the right traffic lane unless they impede traffic, and pedestrians are barred from traffic lanes, Krumer said. Violators potentially could be cited, he added.

However, drivers have a legal responsibility to exercise caution regardless of the circumstances, Krumer said.

"They're not at fault simply for being out there in the roadway," he said of the cyclists.

Earlier Thursday, police told Eyewitness News evidence of alcohol, marijuana and condoms was found where the group was hanging out.

The accident remains under investigation.

Anyone with information about the incident was urged to contact the LAPD South Traffic Division at (213) 485-7336.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

(Copyright ©2014 KABC-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)

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