Published on February 28th, 2013 | by Daniel R. Perlman0
Court hearing revisits night Donovan Maldonado was killed
One of the first police officers to reach last summer’s crash that killed 7-year-old Donovan Maldonado found Loren LeBeau standing near the scene where the Sugar Pine Trail crosses Shepherd Avenue. LeBeau was standing near his damaged car. LeBeau admitted he was the driver of the car that hit and killed Donovan. Officer Jay Van Meter said LeBeau was “distraught” but cooperative. He said LeBeau smelled of alcohol.
LeBeau’s blood-alcohol level was later determined to be 0.11, above the state’s legal limit of 0.08.
Testimony in the preliminary hearing is expected to continue today and possibly Wednesday before Judge Gary Hoff decides whether the former Central High School boys’ basketball coach should face drunken driving, hit-and-run and vehicular manslaughter charges in a trial.
If convicted of all the charges and enhancements, LeBeau, 43, could face 17 to 21 years in prison.
He remains free on $256,000 bail and is complying with bail guidelines, which include attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and wearing an alcohol monitor that shows he is not drinking.
Jesse Maldonado’s wife, oldest daughter and two friends had gone for a jog along the trail and he and his two youngest children, including Donovan, were riding alongside. About 9:10 p.m., the bicyclists stopped before entering the crosswalk because Donovan had an issue with his foot coming off a pedal. After addressing the pedal issue, they looked east for vehicles and saw nothing. The bikes entered the crosswalk and were almost to the center divider when they were struck by LeBeau’s white Scion coming from the east. One of Maldonados’ oldest daughter said she didn’t hear tires screeching but turned around and saw bodies flying. Another girl saw the Maldonados being run over, one of which was being dragged by a white car.
Donovan was taken to Saint Agnes Medical Center. He was revived twice with CPR. He had head injuries, fractures to his arm and cuts and bruises all over his body. He was transferred to Community Regional Medical Center, where he died.
After being taken to a downtown Fresno police holding cell LeBeau continued asking about Donovan’s injuries. LeBeau told him that he “didn’t see anything until I hit it.”
At the start of the hearing, Hammerschmidt said LeBeau has no criminal history and that police estimated he was driving between 37 and 41 mph. The speed limit along Shepherd Avenue in that area is 40 mph.
Hammerschmidt said it was dark, a light near the trail crossing was out and that the trail has signs warning users that cross traffic does not stop.
He said the bicycles ridden by Donovan and his father were not equipped with lights and that the bicycles have warnings on them that say they shouldn’t be used at night without lights.
Hammerschmidt said those details show that LeBeau’s negligence was not extraordinary as the charges against him suggest.
Jesse Maldonado told police the bicycles were equipped with reflectors.
Brian Hance, lead investigator in the crash, said the crossing has amber blinking lights over yellow signs with bicycles on them that flash 24 hours a day to advise motorists to be aware of bicycle riders.
Source: The Fresno Bee “Court hearing revisits night Donovan Maldonado was killed,” February 25, 2013.