A Long Beach Fire Dept. Captain--the nephew of its former chief--was confirmed by the department Wednesday as the suspected drunk driver who left the scene of an injury accident Friday.
Seal Beach police say they arrested John Hines, 38, after his truck allegedly struck a cyclist on Westminster Avenue then continued traveling away. Witnesses to the crash followed the truck to what proved to be Hines' Huntington Beach home, said Seal Beach Sgt. Steve Bowles.The witnesses estimated the truck was going 60 m.p.h.
The cyclist was in the bike lane and the impact ejected him off his bike; the rider suffered very serious head trauma, Bowles said. The injured man was not identified. Citing medical privacy law, Seal Beach police officials refused to release any information about the victim, not even age or gender nor where he was hospitalized.
Police said Hines was arrested and for felony drunk driving and for felony hit-and-run and released on $50,000 bail. The Orange County District Attorney's Office said Wednesday that it had not been presented with a case by the police department.
Capt. Rich Brandt, spokesman for Long Beach Fire Dept., confirmed that Hines was the arrested person and that he was the son of retired fire captain Bob Hines and the nephew of retired fire chief Charlie Hines. As a member of a family with two captains and the ex-chief, the Hines are well known in the department.
Brandt said Hines was not stationed at the Belmont Shore brick fire station on 2nd Street but was not able to legally say much more due to the administration and human resources departments' involvement in the investigation.
"I can't say more than that," he added, "other than that he was definitely off-duty at the time."
The accident took place about 1:30 p.m. Friday, when Hines, driving Eastbound, allegedly veered his Chevrolet truck into the bicycle lane on Westminster Avenue. According to police and witnesses, Hines struck the cyclist at about 60 mph, sending the man catapulting through the air and landing on the dirt shoulder of the roadway.
The investigation is ongoing, and anyone with information about the incident is asked to call the Seal Beach Police Department at 562-799-4100.