[UPDATED with Arraignment:] John Hines, Long Beach Fire Captain, Arrested for Felony Hit and Run
UPDATE, MAY 3, 9:36 A.M.: Long Beach Fire Department Capt. John Hines turned himself in to an Orange County court this morning on a $250,000 arrest warrant and was to be arraigned immediately on felony drunken driving and hit-and-run charges that could keep him in state prison for nearly seven years.
According to prosecutors, the Huntington Beach resident severely injured 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.
UPDATE, APRIL 27, 10:08 A.M.: Long Beach Fire Department Capt. John Hines began drinking April Fools Day morning at Schooner or Later bar in Long Beach, became heavily intoxicated and early that afternoon climbed behind the wheel of his Chevy pick-up, swerved into a bicyclist who was thrown 70 feet onto a Seal Beach dirt road and continued on without ever hitting his brakes or slowing down at all, allege prosecutors.
The Orange County District Attorney's office (OCDA) today filed multiple charges against Hines that could fetch the 38-year-old a nearly seven-year stay in state prison.
The Huntington Beach resident is charged with one felony count each of driving under the influence of alcohol causing bodily injury, driving with a blood alcohol .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.
A $250,000 warrant has been issued for Hines' arrest.
The OCDA statement below shows that when Hines was confronted at his home after the collision, he not only looked drunk but that there was "a strong odor of urine from his clothing." Around two hours after the crash, he logged a blood alcohol level three times over the legal limit, allege prosecutors, who add the victim's blood was still splattered on the pick-up.
Though being treated for two weeks at Long Beach Memorial Medical Center for head trauma, severe lacerations and bruising to his head and body, internal injuries, and spinal and vertebrae injuries, bicyclist Jeffrey Gordon, 47, of Garden Grove, still suffers limited physical mobility and speech and memory loss, the OCDA reports.
April 27, 2011
FIRE DEPARTMENT CAPTAIN CHARGED WITH INJURING BICYCLIST IN DRUNKEN DRIVING HIT-AND-RUN CRASH
*Defendant is accused of having a blood alcohol level of .24 percent, three times the legal limit
SANTA ANA - A Long Beach Fire Department Captain has been charged with 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. John David Hines, 38, Huntington Beach, is charged with one felony count each of driving under the influence of alcohol causing bodily injury, driving with a blood alcohol .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. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of six years and eight months in state prison. A $250,000 warrant has been issued for Hines' arrest. His arraignment date is to be determined.
On the morning of April 1, 2011, Hines is accused of consuming alcohol and becoming severely intoxicated at the Schooner or Later bar in Long Beach. At approximately 1:20 p.m. on April 1, 2011, Hines is accused of driving erratically under the influence of alcohol eastbound on Westminster Avenue in Seal Beach in his Chevrolet pick-up truck.
While driving, Hines is accused of losing control of his vehicle and suddenly swerving into the bike lane and dirt shoulder. Without slowing or hitting his brakes, he is accused of crashing into 47-year-old bicyclist Jeffrey Gordon. The victim was thrown from his bike over 70 feet and landed on the shoulder of the road. Hines is accused of failing to slow or hit his brakes after crashing into the victim and fleeing the scene.
Two separate drivers who witnessed the crash followed the defendant and called 911. Hines is accused of driving to his Huntington Beach home, where he was contacted by the Huntington Beach and Seal Beach Police Departments.
When contacted by police, Hines is accused of displaying 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. Approximately two hours after the crash, Hines is accused of having a blood alcohol level of .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 limited physical mobility and speech and memory loss.
This case was investigated by the Seal Beach Police Department in coordination with the Los Alamitos Police Department as part of the Serious Traffic Accident Reconstruction Team.
Deputy District Attorney Andrew Katz of the Special Prosecutions Unit is prosecuting this case.
UPDATE, APRIL 26, 2:55 P.M.: The Long Beach Fire Department has reportedly suspended Capt. John Hines without pay.
The 38-year-old has been charged with felony driving under the influence and felony hit and run after allegedly driving his Chevrolet truck into a bicyclist in Seal Beach on April 1 before fleeing the scene.
"He has not been working since the day of the occurrence," an unnamed "reliable source" reportedly told the Long Beach Press-Telegram. "He's been suspended without pay pending the outcome of the investigation."
The paper also identified the bicyclist as Jeffrey Gordon, 47, of Garden Grove. He was admitted to Long Beach Memorial Medical Center with head trauma but was later released in good condition, reports the P-T, citing hospital officials.
UPDATE, APRIL 8, 12:05 P.M.: Here is Long Beach Fire Capt. John Hines' booking photo. As we previously reported, the 38-year-old has been charged with felony driving under the influence and felony hit and run after allegedly driving his Chevrolet truck into a bicyclist in Seal Beach on April 1.
Hines was released from jail after posting $50,000 bail.
Authorities have not released the victim's name, so we can't check his condition.
UPDATE, APRIL 7, 5:44 P.M.: Firehousechefs.com demanded the Weekly take down from this post what the site's maintainers claim was a copyrighted photo of a jar of Hines Family Sweet Heat Rub.
Firehouse chefs essentially put it this way: A jar of Hines Family Sweet Heat Rub has nothing to do with the allegedly stinking-drunk fire official.
Rather than argue on fair-use grounds for items of news interest (as the Orange County Register did when it recently stole a photo off the Weekly site without the courtesy of a credit), we decided to comply because we're fat and lazy from our lunch of Cappy McGee's Four-Alarm Fire Chili and Franks.
ORIGINAL POST, APRIL 6, 2:46 P.M.: A Chevy pickup truck swerved into a bike lane in Seal Beach Friday afternoon, striking a bicyclist. The truck driver took off, and witnesses gave chase. The truck was followed to a home in Huntington Beach, and the Seal Beach police later arrived to arrest the man who lives there.
He has been identified as Captain John Hines of the Long Beach Fire Department. The 38-year-old has been charged with felony driving under the influence and felony hit and run. He was jailed but later released after making his $50,000 bail. The Seal Beach Police Department received the call just after 1:30 p.m. on Friday for the accident on Westminster Avenue east of Bolsa Chica. Witnesses told officers the Chevy was traveling about 60 mph east on Westminster before swerving into the bike.
The unidentified bicyclist was thrown over the front of his ride before landing on the dirt side of the road. He was later taken to a local hospital and treated for major head trauma.
Hines hails from a firefighting family. His father, Bob Hines, is a retired Long Beach fire captain, and his uncle, Charlie Hines, retired as the department's chief before becoming fire chief in San Luis Obispo.
The Hines Family Sweet Heat Rub is featured on the Firehousechefs.com, which quotes Capt. John Hines saying, "Throughout the years, my family has always had the passion for good cooking and incorporating lots of flavors. We always have shared our firehouse recipes. That is why you get the best of both worlds: heat and sweetness!"
Long Beach Fire's administrative bureau and the city's Human Resources Department are investigating the incident, according to a Gazettes.com report.