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Long Beach Fire Captain Gets 1 Year in County Jail for Drunken Hit-Run

John David Hines also is sentenced to five years probation and ordered to pay $102,000 in restitution after mowing down a bicyclist and fleeing the scene in April.

A Long Beach Fire Department captain was sentenced to a year in county jail and five years of probation Tuesday for a drunken hit-and-run crash in April that severely injured a bicyclist in Seal Beach.

John David Hines, 39, was also ordered to pay $102,000 in restitution to victim Jeffrey Gordon, who told the court he may never fully recover and was upset that Hines "may suffer little or no consequences for his actions."

The prosecutor had argued for a longer sentence to be served in a state prison.

“Based on the crime, we felt that a state prison sentence would have been appropriate, but we respect the decision of the judge and believe the judge made a fair ruling,” said Farrah Emami, spokeswoman for the Orange County District Attorney’s Office.

On Sept. 6, Hines, a Huntington Beach resident, pleaded guilty to a court offer  of one felony count each of driving under the influence of alcohol causing bodily injury, driving with a blood alcohol of 0.08 percent or more causing injury, hit and run with injury, and sentencing enhancements and allegations for causing great bodily injury and having a blood alcohol level over .20 percent.

As part of the deal, he served 86 days in state prison for a diagnostic evaluation. On Tuesday, he was sentenced to four years and four months in state prison, but the sentence was suspended on the condition that he serve a year in jail and complete five years of probation.

Prosecutors argued that Hines should be sent to state prison because of the severity of the crime and because he worked as a paramedic and knew from responding to similar scenes about the dangers of drinking and driving. He should be held to a higher standard, prosecutors said.

On the morning of April 1, Hines got drunk at a Schooner or Later in Long Beach. Around 1:20 p.m., he drove erratically along Westminster Avenue in Seal Beach in his Chevrolet pickup truck.

While driving, Hines lost control of his vehicle and suddenly swerved into the bike lane and dirt shoulder. Without slowing or hitting his brakes, he crashed into 47-year-old bicyclist Gordon. The victim was thrown from his bike over 70 feet and landed on the shoulder of the road. Hines failed to slow or hit his brakes after crashing into the victim and fled the scene.

Two separate drivers who witnessed the crash followed the defendant and called 911. Hines drove to his Huntington Beach home, where he was contacted by the Huntington Beach and Seal Beach Police Departments.

When contacted by police, Hines displayed objective signs of intoxication including emitting a strong odor of alcohol, bloodshot and watery eyes, unsteady balance, and a strong odor of urine from his clothing. Two hours after the crash, Hines had a blood alcohol level of 0.24 percent.

The force of the impact from the crash caused by Hines left a blood splatter on the defendant’s vehicle and resulted in major front-end fender and hood damage.

Gordon was transported to Long Beach Memorial Medical Center to be 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.

Gordon prepared a written victim impact statement to be considered at sentencing and explained in part, “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 18-centimeter 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.

“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.”

Do you think the sentence is a fair one? Tell us what you think the comments.

andrew mendoza November 30, 2011 at 03:25 AM
the sentence is a slap in the face to mr gordon. Hines will probably do very little time in jail if Lohan only did hours on 30 days hines will only do a week what a joke
Nancy Wride (Editor) November 30, 2011 at 05:13 AM
L.A. D.A. Cooley today held a press conference and said that a state law will allow Dr. Murray's sentence to reduce to two years, if I heard him correctly. And that shocked me. He said that judges' verdicts are subject to interpretation by the keeper of the jail, who ultimately decides sentences now.
Panglonymous November 30, 2011 at 05:48 AM
Did The Great Tucci (his hero attorney) even spare Hines the inconvenience of losing his driver's license? California DMV Drunk Driving Victories http://www.caduilaw.com/firm_profile/dmv_victories/2005.html - Superior Court of California - County of Orange Judge Erick Larsh Case Number 11CF1085: John David Hines http://patch.com/A-pd85#pdf-8573135 V C Section 23153 Driving Under Influence of Alcohol or Drugs Causing Injury http://dmv.ca.gov/pubs/vctop/d11/vc23153.htm V C Section 20001 Duty to Stop at Scene of Accident http://dmv.ca.gov/pubs/vctop/d10/vc20001.htm California Penal Code Section 12022.7 (Great Bodily Injury) http://law.onecle.com/california/penal/12022.7.html An Overview of California "Great Bodily Injury Laws" http://patch.com/A-pd85#youtube_video-8573137
Nancy Wride (Editor) November 30, 2011 at 06:04 AM
What with Dekraai's court hearing in O.C., Dr. Murray's in L.A., and the sentencing being moved dates, I would be surprised if there was any media or cameras present, nor was the victim there, which might have been by choice.
Mike Ruehle November 30, 2011 at 04:31 PM
No other "non-public servant" would have received such a light sentence for a DUI hit and run. When police and fire decry their low pay, I wonder if they forget the value of their get out of jail free card they automatically get with the job.
Shawn Pearson November 30, 2011 at 10:10 PM
I think the server and owners of Schooner or Later should pay restitution to the victim. They served the alcohol to this perp. And, by the way, it is against the law to serve alcohol to a customer who is inebriated. Their liquor license should also be suspended or revoked. It's time to stand up to drunk drivers AND their enablers.
Richard December 01, 2011 at 05:05 AM
The poor victim was slammed twice--once by John Hines, and the second time by Judge Larsh.
met00 December 01, 2011 at 05:24 AM
agreed.
met00 December 01, 2011 at 05:25 AM
agreed.
met00 December 01, 2011 at 05:37 AM
Totally unacceptable. In CA if you are in possession of more than one ounce of pot you can go to jail for up to three years. But it seems that you can be intoxicated well over the limit, hit and run someone and get far less time for actually ruining a life. I don't care who the perp is, don't care what the perp did for aliving, it doesn't mater. This is a choice. The choice to get intoxicated and then the choice to drive a one-ton vehicle and put everyone in your path at risk. While I personally feel that he should have been put on the road, hit by a car doing the same speed h was doing, and then left there for as long as his victim before getting medical attention, I doubt that the law will permit this kind of eye-for-an-eye justice. So, I would be more thanpleased if the court had thrown the maximum penalties at this sorry excuse for a human being. I do hope that he loses whatever pension he has coming, as he really should have to provide the victim with such pension as it was the victims life he destroyed by his choices.
concernedfamily December 01, 2011 at 01:28 PM
As a family member of the victum, I am outraged. Mr. Hines will likely never serve more than a short time of his sentence and the amount of restitution will barely cover the current medical bills, let alone loss of income, pain and suffering. Mr.Gordon is serving a life sentence from this man's actions, still is unable to return to work full time and is suffering daily from severe pain. Mr. Hines just seems to float along happily with minor inconviences. Ridiculous! Hopefully the civil suit will provide the punishment deserved for his crime. He should have to work the rest of his life to repay Mr. Gordon for what he has done to him.
John B. Greet December 01, 2011 at 04:56 PM
Let's see, if memory serves, throughout the course of this tragedy Ruehle has said: Hines didn't have to worry about losing his job (wrong), that CLB doesn't fire employees who are at fault in fatality collisions (wrong), that residents wouldn't learn about this incident from the PT (wrong), asked "did the Seal Beach cops appologize for arresting Hines and hand him a 12-pack on his way out" (wrong), accused LBPD PIO Fernandez of lying when he misspoke and said Mrs. Hines was no longer a police officer (wrong), that if this had happened it Long Beach it would have been covered up and that Hines would still be working today (wrong), that in Long Beach...City employee misconduct and court settlements are covered up time and again while the offending city employee continues working for the city (wrong), characterized Hines' $50k bail as "measly" (wrong), that "All criminal counts will be dropped and the bicyclist will be forced to seek civil damages as the only form of justice in this life" (wrong), that Hines would remain (and did remain) employed with CLB (wrong), suggested Mrs. Hines should also be fired (wrong), and that police officers and firefighters enjoy a get out of jail free card (wrong). Ruehle has been wrong on so many of his comments on this story, yet not one acknowledgement of his many errors and not one attempt to correct his copious and erroneous record here at the Patch. Sad.
Mike Ruehle December 01, 2011 at 05:19 PM
John "hit and run" Hines will probaby serve little or no jail time. Similar to Linsey Lohan serving little jail time, state prison overcrowding has forced the early release of all non-violent criminals. Hines will probably be released with time served after less than a month.
John B. Greet December 01, 2011 at 06:10 PM
Still no acknowledgments from Ruehle of his many errors...no retractions of his false claims Sgt. Fernandez lied about Mrs. Hines employment status, not a single attempt to correct his long and erroneous record on this story. Just more false information and derrogatory predictions. Sad.
Elliot Webb September 19, 2012 at 05:48 PM
Trying to go after the establishments that served the alcohol, is futile. Barring gross negligence on the bar tenders part, your talking about a never ending finger pointing game. Which bar is more to blame? How do we he didn't go to other bars? Why shouldn't the whole sale suppliers of the alcohol also claim some blame? What about the senators who ended prohibition? Or even John Hines parents?! If you can see where I'm going with this, for reasons just like these (yes even the ridiculous ones), are why the law strictly holds the person accountable for their actions. DUI lawyers in Orange County, Los Angeles, and San Diego have their work cut out for them. gototrial.com

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