By LARRY WELBORN / THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER
SANTA ANA – A fire captain was sentenced Tuesday to four years and four months in prison for crashing into a bicyclist in a midday, hit-and-run crash in April while driving with a blood-alcohol level that was three times the legal limit, but that sentence was suspended pending successful completion of five years of probation.
Superior Court Judge Erick Larsh told defendant John David Hines, 38, of Huntington Beach, that if he violates the terms of his probation, which will include one year in the Orange County jail, he will be sent to prison to complete the four year, four month sentence.
Hines, a captain with the Long Beach Fire Department, pleaded guilty in September to driving under the influence of alcohol causing bodily injury, driving with a blood alcohol 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 more than 0.20 percent.
He served 90 days in prison for an evaluation after the crash and spent 158 days in an alcohol-rehabilitation facility.
Prosecutors said Hines got drunk at the Schooner or Later bar in Long Beach early on April 1 and then got behind the wheel of his Chevrolet pickup. He was driving erratically about 1:20 p.m. on Westminster Avenue in Seal Beach when he lost control and swerved into the bike lane and dirt shoulder, prosecutors said, and struck bicyclist Jeffrey Gordon, 47.
Gordon was thrown more than 70 feet and landed on the shoulder of the road. Hines did not slow down after crashing into the victim as he fled, according to witnesses.
Two drivers saw the collision and followed Hines to his Huntington Beach home while calling 911, prosecutors said.
When contacted by Huntington Beach and Seal Beach police, Hines displayed signs of intoxication, including having a strong odor of alcohol, bloodshot and watery eyes, unsteady balance and a strong odor of urine from his clothing, prosecutors said.
He registered a blood-alcohol level of 0.24 percent about two hours after the crash, prosecutors said, three times the legal limit for driving.
Gordon was 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 limited physical mobility and speech and memory loss.
In a victim-impact statement, Gordon wrote: “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. … Medical expenses are piling up from the long hospital stay and treatment from so many specialist … 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.”
As part of the sentence, Hines also agreed to pay $102,000 in restitution.
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