John David Hines, the 39-year-old Long Beach Fire captain convicted in September for severely injuring a cyclist in a mid-day hit-and-run crash while driving with a blood alcohol level of .24 percent (three times the legal limit), has essentially received a sentence of some jail, lots of probation and an order to pay his victim $102,000. Looking at the possibility of up to six years in state prison, Hines was formally sentenced today to four years and four months there. However, he'll be spared prison time if he successfully completes a year in jail and five years of formal probation.
On the one hand, who knows how much jail time he'll ultimately do given overcrowding? On the other flaming glove, the fire captain from a family of firefighters has already done some prison time. Before sentencing, he served 86 days there for a diagnostic evaluation.
That wasn't enough for Deputy District Attorney Andrew Katz, who tried to argue that Hines should be sentenced to a state prison term based on the severity of the crime and that he should be held to a higher standard because he has worked as a paramedic, responded to DUI crash scenes and knows first-hand the dangers of boozing and driving.
Beginning the morning of April 1, he spent several hours getting hammered in a Long Beach bar. Around 1:20 p.m., he climbed behind the wheel of his Chevy pick-up and drove erratically eastbound on Westminster Avenue in Seal Beach. That's where he lost control, swerved into the bike lane and dirt shoulder and--without slowing or hitting his brakes--crashed into 47-year-old bicyclist Jeffrey Gordon.
Gordon was thrown from his bike more than 70 feet before landing on the shoulder of the road. Hines still couldn't find his brake pedal, continuing to drive while being followed by two other drivers who witnessed the crash and called 9-1-1. Cops from the beaches Seal and Huntington found Hines' truck with a large blood splatter and major front end and hood damage in the driveway of his Surf City home. Hines was still stinking drunk, emitting a strong odor of alcohol, displaying bloodshot and watery peepers, having trouble keeping his balance and--the ol' kicker--smelling of urine on his clothing. It was then he tested at .24 percent.
Meanwhile, the bicyclist had been taken to Long Beach Memorial Medical Center, where he was treated for head trauma, severe lacerations and bruising to his head and body, internal injuries, and spinal and vertebrae injuries. Gordon remained in the hospital for two weeks and continues to suffer pain as a result of his injuries.
He submitted a written victim impact statement today, according to the Orange County District Attorney's office:
"I am a very active person who enjoys being outdoors with my family. I also have a very mentally and physically demanding job that I love. All of that was taken from me in just seconds.
"As a result of the impact, I was seriously injured, receiving an 18cm head laceration, cranial bleeding, three broken vertebrae, a bruised kidney and multiple cuts, scrapes, and contusions over a large area of my body. Medical expenses are piling up from the long hospital stay and treatment from so many specialists. so far reaching nearly $65,000. The doctors are not yet sure when or if I will recover enough to return to full duty at work or to the quality of life that I had before.
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"I have found myself becoming more and more upset by the possibility that the negligence of another person may have lasting effects on me, but the person who is responsible may suffer little or no consequences for his actions."
Doesn't seem like $102,000 is enough, no?