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Long Beach fire captain pleads guilty to hit-and-run DUI

9/6/2011, 10 a.m.

SANTA ANA, Calif.--A Long Beach fire captain pleaded guilty today to drunken driving and other charges stemming from a hit-and-run crash that seriously injured a bicyclist.

John David Hines, 38, of Huntington Beach, was sent to a state prison for 90 days for a "diagnostic evaluation" program that provides treatment and recommends prison time or probation, Deputy District Attorney Andrew Katz said.

He is scheduled to be sentenced in December, and he faces a sentence ranging from probation to six years and eight months in prison. Katz said he will recommend a prison sentence.

"For me, it is a state prison case, but I'd be surprised if the judge gives him that," Katz said.
The April 1 collision seriously hurt 47-year-old bicyclist Jeffrey Gordon. Katz said the fire department captain should be held to a higher standard, Katz said.

"It's not your standard DUI," Katz said. "This is a guy who was three times the legal limit at 1 in the afternoon. He knows better. This is a guy who's been sliding for a long time. And for a first responder who treats people at the scene to flee the scene is unconscionable. He should not be dealt with the same. He should be held to a higher standard."

Hines spent the morning of April 1 drinking at the Schooner or Later bar in Long Beach before getting behind the wheel of his Chevrolet pickup about 1:20 p.m., Katz said.

Hines was eastbound on Westminster Avenue between Bolsa Chica and Seal Beach Boulevard in Seal Beach about 1:30 p.m. when he lost control of the truck and swerved into the bike lane, hitting Gordon, Katz said.

Hines did not appear to slow down or try to brake, according to the prosecutor, who said two other drivers who saw the collision called 911 as they followed Hines.

Hines drove home to Huntington Beach, where he was arrested, Katz said.

He had a blood-alcohol level of .24 percent, about three times the legal limit, about two hours following the crash, the prosecutor said.

Gordon was treated for head and spinal injuries and a broken back at Long Beach Memorial Medical Center, where he was hospitalized for two weeks.

Gordon still suffers from back pain, Katz said.

Hines' attorney, Vincent Tucci, did not immediately respond to messages for comment.

Hines pleaded guilty to driving under the influence of alcohol causing bodily injury, driving with a blood-alcohol level above the legal limit, and hit and run with injury with sentencing enhancements for causing great bodily injury and having a blood-alcohol level more than .20 percent.