Injured biker dies in Cleveland National Forest

Rescuers reached an injured mountain biker Thursday night in the Cleveland National Forest, but he died before he could be hoisted out of a canyon, authorities said.

A companion of the man used a cellphone to call 911 for help about 6:30 p.m., Cal Fire Capt. Michael Mohler said.

Cal Fire used the phone’s GPS tracking system to find the man in the Noble Canyon area, Mohler said. A sheriff’s helicopter was dispatched, along with a San Diego Fire-Rescue Department helicopter.

Rescuers performed CPR, but the man died at the scene, Mohler said. The nature of his injury was not disclosed.

According to the website, the Noble Canyon trail is narrow and difficult, with many rocks and tight switchbacks. The upper trailhead can be reached from Sunrise Highway, and the lower trailhead from the Pine Creek picnic area.

Driverless car crashes into elderly man on bench


An 82-year-old man suffered serious injuries Thursday when an unoccupied car rolled out of a convenience store parking lot in Alpine and crashed through the nearby bus stop where he was sitting.

The 1996 Volkswagen Jetta began rolling through the lot at Tavern Road and Alpine Boulevard about 11 a.m., shortly after the driver pulled up to a gas pump at the Circle K and got out to pay the clerk, according to the California Highway Patrol.

The runaway sedan rolled down a driveway and over a curb, then smashed into the bench on which Alpine resident Sidney Griffin was seated, CHP public- affairs Officer Brian Pennings said. The car came to a stop in the adjacent roadway, with Griffin underneath it.

Medics took the victim to Sharp Memorial Hospital in San Diego, where he was admitted in serious but stable condition, Pennings said.

It was not immediately clear why the vehicle began rolling on its own.

Friend: Murdered woman texted ‘help’ after leaving with Marine

The preliminary hearing for the Marine sergeant accused in the murder of his wife has started. The woman’s body was discovered near a lake last year. According to a friend of the victim, the woman texted the word “help” shortly after leaving on a dinner cruise with the suspect.

During the testimony, the friend said the victim was reluctant to go on the cruise with her estranged husband, but decided to go with him after his pregnant girlfriend assured her it was fine. The girlfriend claimed that she could not accompany him due to her pregnancy. She is also a suspect in the woman’s murder case.

Discrepancies in the suspect’s narrative about what happened to the victim during their outing led the friend to report the woman as missing. Further investigation led to the discovery of BDSM paraphernalia in the suspect’s home. Authorities allege the victim was forced to participate in sexual behavior prior to being killed.





Commentary by Sam Spital, San Diego Personal Injury Lawyer:

“The UT San Diego electronic edition on February 4, 2013 reported at least eight individuals were killed and nearly 40 others sustained minor to life threatening injuries as a result of a crash by a tour bus and two other vehicles as the bus was returning on a two lane highway from Big Bear Lake in the mountains of San Bernardino County in Southern California, about 80 miles east of Los Angeles. The bus driver claimed he was having brake problems as it came down the mountain, struck the rear end of an automobile and then flipped over and crashed into a truck that was pulling a trailer.

The reporter did not provide any further details as to the victims, drivers, and/or information in particular relating to the service history of the bus. It is likely there will be wrongful death and personal injury lawsuits filed by family members as well as those injured as a result of this horrific accident. An investigation may establish a legal basis to file claims against the governmental agency responsible for the roadway on the grounds it was unsafe, there were possibly inadequate warning signs posted and/or sufficient and proper brake check areas off the road for truckers to safely check the operation of their air brake systems and/or halt a truck or vehicle that might lose control or have brake problems.”

–Sam Spital

Do Older Drivers Have More Accidents?

According to a recent study of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, drivers 70 years or older, who make up about 10% of the population, are less likely to be involved in auto accidents and less likely to be seriously injured or killed. It is anticipated that by 2050, the number of people in this age group will rise to 16 % of the population in the United States (over fifty percent higher than the most recent amount).

Some have opined this is because automobiles are safer than earlier makes and models. While there are increased numbers of baby boomers who are now seniors and, therefore, an increased number of this group driving on the streets and highways, they actually account for much lower rates of accidents and fatalities. Interestingly, the study revealed the greatest decline was in the group of drivers 80 years and older; this group had nearly a 50% larger decline than either middle age drivers or those between the age of 70 and 74.

Also and somewhat unexpected are statistics revealing those of retirement age are driving more than they did in the past, whether commuting to work (even if part time), shopping, vacation or visiting family and friends.  In the age group of 75 years and older, their annual average miles driven increased 50%. Some commentaries believe this portion of the population take better care of themselves, live a much more healthy life and are leading more productive lifestyles than the same age group 15 years ago.

Clearly, senior drivers are more comfortable driving than their predecessors, and they take extra precautions such as driving less during the rush hours during the day, in inclement weather &/or at night. Nonetheless, eye examinations are a must, and there are classes available that test reaction times (perhaps helpful for many drivers). The next time we see an older driver we should be reminded of and think about emulating their wisdom and good habits, and not focus on any negativity that might otherwise come to mind.

Woman Pursued Evidence in Brother’s Murder – Nearly 2 years to the day after the tragic crash, CHP arrested a man in the hit-and-run death (Sam Spital)

Commentary by Sam Spital, San Diego Criminal Law and Murder Defense Lawyer:

“On January 16, 2013, NBC San Diego contained an article in which a murder suspect was arrested about two years to the day after a hit and run death. When law enforcement could not identify the person responsible, the sister of Frank Yarborough, the victim in this homicide case, initiated her own investigation and through a series of steps located the individual that now has been arrested for felony hit and run. The article revealed that Dixon Russell Dixon, the driver of a Ralph’s semi-truck trailer, made a u-turn and ran over the motorcycle driven by Yarborough.

Interestingly, Dixon was actually interviewed by CHP investigators as he was eating inside his truck that was parked close to the scene of the crime. It is claimed that he said he was “in Del Taco getting lunch” so the officers did not pursue him any further. The loyalty, love and devotion of a sister clearly helped law enforcement obtain additional information in order to help determine who to arrest even after two years doing their own cold case investigation. Because it is not known what evidence ultimately led to arresting Dixon, we should presume his innocence until proven otherwise in court.”

–Sam Spital


PAPARAZZO KILLED TRACKING BIEBER CAR – Accident brings into sharp focus danger that celebrity photographers often face (Sam Spital)

“The UT San Diego reported on January 3, 2013, the death of a 29 year old photographer who was tracking a Ferrari sports car he believed was being driven by celebrity Justin Bieber when he was struck by another vehicle as he was crossing the street in Los Angeles. According to the article, a CHP Officer who had stopped the driver of the Ferrari, who was a friend of Bieber, for speeding tried to warn the Paparazzo since there were no crossings or side-walks at the particular location to put on notice anyone that a pedestrian might try to dart across the street.

While the 69 year old woman who was driving the vehicle that killed the photographer might not have been cited by the officer for driving at an unsafe speed, there may be sufficient facts, such as the time of the day and lighting, to serve as a basis for liability under the circumstances. Often a skilled personal injury lawyer can establish a particular road was unsafe and bring a claim against the municipality or governmental agency responsible for the condition and maintenance. In addition, a wrongful death case can also be made against a driver who is deemed negligent because she was not driving safely given the facts and circumstances and/or the driver lacked sufficient peripheral and/or night vision. An example of the visual elements would be a driver who is not sufficiently competent and/or is unable or simply fails to react to a hazard coming from the driver’s far left or far right, such as the instant case in which the Paparazzo was darting from one side of the street to the other.”

–Sam Spital


Police officer seriously injured in crash Patrol vehicle hit by suspected drunken driver (Sam Spital)

Commentary by Sam Spital, San Diego Personal Injury Attorney:

“A patrol car driven by a San Diego Police Department officer at approximately 2:30 a.m. was struck by a pick-up truck whose driver admitted he was driving under the influence (DUI). The UT News on December 30, 2012 reported the police officer was badly hurt with broken bones and internal injuries requiring surgery. The crash occurred a little over an hour after another collision in which it is believed the driver was also under the influence and killed another individual in a head on accident.

It strains credulity to believe anyone would risk the life of another and/or themself by driving after drinking an alcoholic beverage, albeit the male driver of the pick-up truck in the above collision reportedly had no injuries. Unfortunately, at this time of the year in celebrating the New Year holiday far too many individuals stay out late at night and may not realize they are fatigued and possibly drowsy, they drink at a party or gathering but fail to use a designated driver or take a taxi cab when they are ready to go home.

It seems likely in the not too distant future there will be ignition interlock devices (IID) in not only those automobiles in which the driver has been convicted and the Judge has ordered the installation of the device, but in all vehicles to prevent the huge number of fatalities and serious injuries caused by DUI drivers. Remembering back several years ago, there were objections to seat belts being placed in automobiles and laws that soon were enacted that required they be used or it was deemed a violation of law. This historical perspective may be used to justify the IID since it too can prevent DUI related auto accidents.”

–Sam Spital



“The UT San Diego news reported David Copley, its former publisher and only 60 years old died in an auto accident near his home in La Jolla. The car crash happened about 6:15 p.m. when his Aston Martin vehicle smashed into a parked automobile. When the San Diego Police arrived at the scene, they had to break the driver’s window to extricate him out of the car. Even though he was not breathing, the officers performed CPR until the ambulance arrived to transport him to a local hospital. A close family friend and physician opined that Copley suffered a fatal and sudden heart attack while driving. In 2005, the former publisher reportedly had a heart transplant and his underlying heart problems ‘prevented a full resuscitation’ by emergency room physicians.

The current owner of the UT San Diego, Douglas Manchester, said ‘the entire San Diego community will miss him and the philanthropy that he and his family made possible for so many years.’ The billionaire and prominent Copley dynasty has for decades been known for publishing newspapers and its philanthropic contributions, including the downtown Museum of Arts, YMCA, local playhouses, animal shelters and their many anonymous donations.

Copley was one of the wealthiest and well known individuals in the San Diego community. He also won two Pulitzer Prizes. What a misfortune for someone in his very early senior years; he will clearly be remembered as a kind and giving person.”



Number of cheerleading injuries increase

Cheerleading now accounts for 60% to 70% of all women’s sports injuries.

This is partially due to the greatly increased number of predominantly female cheerleaders, and partly because cheerleaders are now asked to perform many stunt-like routines, such as human pyramids and tumbling. These activities bring with them a greater risk of injury than simply waving a pom-pom.

Cheerleading injuries can be disabling or even fatal, especially as the cheerleaders grow older and learn more complicated routines. Though it is exciting to see cheerleading grow more rigorous and be treated as a sport equal to other team sports, it is also disheartening to hear that so many injuries come of it. Cheerleaders should remember not to push themselves beyond their abilities, and to warm up sufficiently before engaging in any routines or stunts. It seems more planning and preparation, the use of adequate mats and pads, as well as increasing the level of proper and continuous education and training of instructors must be given greater emphasis.


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