Friday, January 09, 2009

Open Thread: Any info on the cyclist who was killed on 299 near Blue Lake a few months ago?

It happened at the end of August

☛TS Fatality on 299 near Blue Lake 8.26.08
☛TS Man killed in 299 crash identified 8.27.08

"The California Highway Patrol reported that the driver, Alan Bear, 27, of Hoopa, was driving his 2002 Nissan pickup truck eastbound on 299 when he allowed his car to drift to the right side of the road onto the paved shoulder, hitting (Gregory) Jennings.

Jennings was ejected from his bicycle and landed on the grass. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Coroner Frank Jager said a witness who was driving down the road behind Bear saw the accident and said Jennings was wearing colorful clothing and was far off to the side of the road.

”This was a guy that was doing everything right,” Jager said of Jennings. Jager said Bear's car also had a female passenger who fled the scene after the accident for unknown reasons.

Bear was arrested and investigators are still determining whether drugs or alcohol were a contributing factor, the CHP report said.."

☛ TS Local bicyclist's death further spurs a call for change 8.31.08
☛ JN Ghost Bike (photo source) 12.4.08

Open thread


  1. Who was the passenger?

  2. So over 4 months ago the coroner, the coroner for god's sake, is an eyewitness to a homicide, and the DA hasn't gotten it together to charge the drunk driver with vehicular homicide? What the hell? And the local papers are totally supine on this? Isn't it possible that the driver worked for a lumber company or was a part time security guard,something that would motivate the DA, because having ordinary citizens run down in broad daylight apparently isn't enough to get him off his surfboard.

  3. Coroner says there was an eyewitness, not that it was him. Also, no determination on drunk, but that seems odd since it's been 4 months and in a homicide you can get DNA, much less blood tox, in that amount of time. And drunk or sober, it's still a homicide. If he's sober, and wasn't on his cell phone or fooling with his gf, it's misdo manslaughter. If he was doing something stupid--dui, texting, necking, it's manslaughter. If he has a prior dui, and he was ui, its
    murder. Whichever, 4 months is enough to get the tox and find the gf. And they dont need him to give up her name. People know who he dates. Something is not right here.

  4. Hey, thanks Rose. This could turn up something useful.

    I must say, you're winning me over to watchpaul (but not getpaul or destroypaul). No harm is keeping a close eye on any public official.

    I believe there was a recent follow up to the Blue Lake crash fatality in the local press. I'll pass it on if I can locate it.


  5. Humboldt Heretic1/10/2009 9:55 AM

    Since when can a dna or blood test determine if a suspect was under the influence at a specific time 4 months ago? Such tests could only be performed on the victim. Also, it is not the job of the DA's investigators to do the preliminary detective work of the CHP or Sheriff's Department.

  6. I would assume they took the necessary tests when they arrested him, can't be sure, but it looks like he was arrested immediately. Was he arrested at the scene?

  7. Here's more on the accident. I wonder how fast you would have to be going to throw a victim 170 feet?


  8. OK, the driver has been charged as follows:

    On December 23, 2008, a dozen cyclists attended the arraignment of Alan Bear who was responsible for the death of fellow cyclist Greg Jennings in August 2008. He has been charged by the District Attorney with Felony Vehicular Manslaughter with Gross Negligence; a misdemeanor for giving false information to a peace officer; and a traffic infraction of making an unsafe lane change. If convicted, Bear could spend 2 – 6 years in prison. He pled “Not Guilty” at the proceedings, accompanied by his lawyer.

    More on Jennings and the accident here:


  9. The Journal report is pretty complete:
    "Greg was thrown about 170 feet," said Jennings' dad, Jim Jennings, on Monday, the day before the DA's decision; Jennings got a copy of the report from the CHP. "This driver went off the road to hit him. As far I'm concerned, he wasn't operating a truck at that point, he was driving a guided missile that weighed between two and three thousand pounds going 65 or 70 miles an hour. And he hit a defenseless person."

    Jennings said his son was doing everything right. "Everything," he said. "The reflective gear and the helmet. He was on the shoulder of the road -- in fact, he was practically off the road he was so far over."

    The report says Bear's truck crossed the 11-foot-wide shoulder and hit Jennings with its left front corner.

    "In the report there's a diagram that shows where all of the scrapes are on the road where the bicycle was driven underneath the truck, and they're practically off the road," said Jennings. "That's where it begins."

    The CHP report says Bear first lied about how the collision occurred -- he said he was distracted by putting a soft drink into a cup holder, and when he looked up the bicycle was in his lane. Later, he admitted he had crossed into the shoulder and hit the bicyclist.

    "One [witness] said it appeared as though the truck was aiming for the cyclist, trying to hit him," said Jennings. "And another independent witness said the truck appeared to speed up as it approached the bicycle."

    The report says Bear also told officers that his passenger -- who fled the scene in another car -- was a hitchhiker he'd picked up, someone he didn't know. Later, after officers located the passenger, who lives in Hoopa, she told them Bear had invited her to travel to Klamath with him that day.

    "I want to know who was it who picked her up and took her away from the scene," said Jennings. "I want to know what she had with her when she left. I'd like to know what was going on inside the truck prior to its radically swerving off the road and hitting the defenseless bicyclist. There are unanswered questions."

    The report also says Bear had marijuana in his system; Gallegos said a pending toxicology report will determine how much.

  10. Later, after officers located the passenger, who lives in Hoopa, she told them Bear had invited her to travel to Klamath with him that day.

    Who is the passenger? Surely she has the answers.

  11. What constitutes "felony manslaughter?"


  12. Vehicular or intoxication manslaughter
    Vehicular manslaughter is a kind of misdemeanor manslaughter, which holds persons liable for any death which occurs because of criminal negligence, or a violation of traffic safety laws. A common use of the vehicular manslaughter laws involves prosecution for a death caused by driving under the influence (determined by excessive blood alcohol content levels set by individual states), although an independent infraction (such as driving with a suspended driver's license), or negligence, is usually also required.[2]
    In some U.S. states, such as Texas, intoxication manslaughter is a distinctly defined offense. A person commits intoxication manslaughter if he, or she, operates a motor vehicle in a public place, operates an aircraft, a watercraft, or an amusement ride, or assembles a mobile amusement ride while intoxicated and, by reason of that intoxication, causes the death of another by accident or mistake.[3]
    Intoxication manslaughter, vehicular manslaughter and other similar offenses require a lesser mens rea than other manslaughter offenses. Furthermore, the fact that the defendant is entitled to use the alcohol, controlled substance, drug, dangerous drug, or other substance, is no defense.[4] For example, in Texas, to prove intoxication manslaughter, it is not necessary to prove the person was negligent in causing the death of another, nor that they unlawfully used the substance that intoxicated them, but only that they were intoxicated, and operated a motor vehicle, and someone died as a result. The same rule of law applies in New York for vehicular manslaughter in the second degree.[5]
    [edit]Misdemeanor manslaughter
    In the United States, this is a lesser version of felony murder, and covers a person who causes the death of another while committing a misdemeanor – that is, a violation of law which doesn't rise to the level of a felony. This may automatically lead to a conviction for the homicide, if the misdemeanor involved a law designed to protect human life. Many violations of safety laws are infractions, which means a person can be convicted regardless of mens rea.

  13. Does such a proceeding involve a full disclosure of all the facts pertaining to the case? I'm wondering if we will find out what happened during this trial.


  14. Ok, cyclist, I have some answers...

  15. First: All accidents involve some type of negligence... so the question becomes, what happened here. Not all accidents involve drinking, or drugs. If he (Alan Bear) didn't exhibit any signs of being drunk, there would have been no blood draw - reason they didn't draw blood on woman who hit Rodoni - they can't just do a blood draw with no probable cause.

    If Gallegos claims the tox test showed pot in the guy's system, then they did do some sort of test. So far there's been no mention of alcohol that i have seen.

    That's one thing.

  16. What constitutes "felony manslaughter?"

    Felony manslaughter - different manslaughter sections in the Penal Code - has to be 192 C-1

    It's a wobbler, meaning 192 - C-1 can be a felony or a misdemeanor.

    If it IS a FELONY CHARGE, there will be a PRELIMINARY HEARING by the Judge prior to trial.... if the DA fails to produce evidence that establishes it as a felony, then the judge drops it down to a misdemeanor.

    IF IT IS FILED AS A FELONY, you will get to hear the facts before any trial.

    IF IT ISN'T - if it is filed as a misdemeanor, you won't hear any facts until the trial IF there is a trial. You will get to see the CHP reports, I think.

    If the guy pleads, you may not get any info.

  17. If he files it as 192 C-1, and the Judge doesn't find GROSS NEGLIGENCE, then it will probably be 192 C-2 w/out gross negligence is a misdemeanor, no prelim, no public hearing, either a plea or a trial or a dismissal.... Penny O'Gara's case was dismissed, I believe.

    They're going to have a hard time with this - It's a question of Gross Negligence... let's say you reach down to turn the radio dial, and hit someone, that is not gross negligence...

    Acting with callous and reckless disregard for human life... racing at 100 mph evading officers, blowing through stop signs that would be gross negligence.

    If you have the passenger saying he deliberately ran the guy over, maybe he'd have a felony case.

    It's not an easy case to make. Despite the horrible end result.

    This is why you need seasoned prosecutors.

    And that is my rough understanding of it - if some of the other readers here have better analysis, i welcome that. Any examples of the intricacies involved would be good.

  18. Finally - to find out what the charges are - call the "CLERK OF THE COURT" Gov. section Superior Court after 10:am... give them the person's name (Alan Bear) ... they should be able to tell you what is charged - felony or misdo, and what section of the Penal Code - exactly what it is.

  19. I have the Sheriff's Dept Press release link HCSO Press releases in the left sidebar, but I don't have one for the CHP... trying to find one.

  20. If I understand this correctly, Rose, the "wobbler...192 C-1" range you mentioned would be between 6 years in jail and a secret deal with no disclosure of any details. Correct?


  21. That's kinda my understanding, not really knowing any of the specifics, and only knowing what is mentioned in those linked articles about what the charges are said to be.

    Now, Gallegos wanted to file felony charges against Penny O'Gara, "as a deterrent" irrespective of the fact that her case really was a tragic accident, where her car hit a patch of hail, and then another car, and unfortunately, a passenger from that car, who had gotten out to stand by his car.

    So, you would think he will be going after this guy with all his guns blazing. This guy and the driver who killed a 9 year old girl.

  22. Well, we do have that 6 year sentence on the table so it's premature to complain about the way the case has been handled. I'm going to contact the court to see about updates on this case.

  23. For Christ sakes, can we stop quoting Wikipedia on things!

    Cal Penal Code 192 (c) Vehicular Manslaughter--

    (1) Except as provided in subdivision (a) of Section 191.5, driving a vehicle in the commission of an unlawful act, not amounting to felony, and with gross negligence; or driving a vehicle in the commission of a lawful act which might produce death, in an unlawful manner, and with gross negligence.

    (2) Driving a vehicle in the commission of an unlawful act, not amounting to felony, but without gross negligence; or driving a vehicle in the commission of a lawful act which might produce death, in an unlawful manner, but without gross negligence.

    (3) Driving a vehicle in connection with a violation of paragraph (3) of subdivision (a) of Section 550, where the vehicular collision or vehicular accident was knowingly caused for financial gain and proximately resulted in the death of any person. This provision shall not be construed to prevent prosecution of a defendant for the crime of murder.

    This section shall not be construed as making any homicide in the driving of a vehicle punishable that is not a proximate result of the commission of an unlawful act, not amounting to felony, or of the commission of a lawful act which might produce death, in an unlawful manner.

    Cal Penal Code 193 (c) Vehicular manslaughter is punishable as follows:

    (1) A violation of paragraph (1) of subdivision (c) of Section 192 is punishable either by imprisonment in the county jail for not more than one year or by imprisonment in the state prison for two, four, or six years.

    (2) A violation of paragraph (2) of subdivision (c) of Section 192 is punishable by imprisonment in the county jail for not more than one year.

    (3) A violation of paragraph (3) of subdivision (c) of Section 192 is punishable by imprisonment in the state prison for 4, 6, or 10 years.

  24. Translation please.



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