By Andrea Swayne

The investigation into an April 8 car crash in Dana Point that resulted in the death of a man is ongoing, authorities said.

Thomas Raith, 69, of Dana Point died at the scene, shortly before 3 p.m. when his Chrysler PT Cruiser was hit broadside by a Cadillac Escalade at the corner of Golden Lantern and Selva Road.

According to Lt. Russ Chilton, Dana Point chief of police, Raith was making a left turn onto Golden Lantern from Selva when the Escalade hit his vehicle broadside, on the driver’s side.

The man driving the Cadillac was transported to the hospital and is believed not to have sustained serious injury.

“The Major Accident Reconstruction Team is continuing its investigation,” Sgt. Rich Himmel of Dana Point Police Services, said. “Because this is an ongoing criminal investigation, the District Attorney’s will not publicly identify the driver of the Escalade until charges are filed.”

Witnesses called police to report seeing a vehicle matching the description of the Escalade running red lights shortly before the crash and investigators have spoken to a number of witnesses who were at the scene.

According to Himmel, the Orange County Sheriff’s Department is awaiting results of toxicology reports for the Escalade driver, identified at this time only as an adult male.

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comments (107)

  • I saw the April 8th car crash just after it happened. It was awful. I hope Eye on DP will continue to follow up with news concerning the Escalade driver. Every accident I’ve seen in this area have been violent and had serious injuries. It would be nice to hear of an outcome.

  • I too saw the aftermath. It was horrific. I don’t understand why the News can’t go to the Sheriff and purchase an accident report. Isn’t that public information? I can think of many accidents where names were identified and later charged. It smells funny.

    • I, and a number of my friends feel the same way. Why were the # plates of the Escalade covered over with brown paper after the accident? I was the third car in line to make the turn onto Golden Lantern, also I live right above the crash site and

      • That sounds very mysterious.

        • That is what we all think. I read that two men who beat up a police officer in Huntington Beach in Feb of this year, one has already been convicted for 16 years in prison. I wish I had more confidence in the DA’s office.

  • Many residents would like some resolution to this horrible fatal accident in our town.
    Come on DP times. Please shed some light on this mess!

  • Black escalades are used by people who can afford them and in this case who is going out their way to not be known for having killed someone with reckless driving and who knows what else.

  • How has this story not been updated yet? nothing has come up from this investigation and the party responsible has not been named? You’re journalists and its your societal duty to present the facts and facilitate the discourse between the police and the public. The family of Mr. Raith deserve better.

    • The investigation is ongoing and the case requires extensive work—reviewing everything from info collected by the vehicles’ onboard computer, skid marks (or lack of skid marks), damages to the vehicles, surveillance camera footage, toxicology, etc., authorities said.

      It could take some time for the DA’s office to make a determination whether to indict, according to Sgt. Rich Himmel of the Dana Point Police Services/Orange County Sheriff’s Department.

      “Since no arrest was made at the scene and this is an active investigation, the driver’s name has not been released,” Himmel said on May 18. “Should the driver be arrested or charged, his name will become public record. The case is being investigated as a possible vehicular manslaughter.”

      Stay tuned for updates.

      Note: Releasing a name could result in the case being tried in “the court of public opinion,” which could be potentially damaging to any potential case brought against the driver.

      Just as an example, recall the case of another fatal crash we covered in the tri-city area, when Kelly Michelle Wolfe of Dana Point struck and killed Marthann Demchuk on July 4, 2013 on El Camino Real/Coast Highway near Camino Capistrano. Wolfe was arrested shortly after the crash but was released and not charged. Formal charges were not filed until August 2014 and she wasn’t sentenced until November 2015.

  • So many people witnessed the crash at 2:55pm in clear daylight. I cannot believe the driver of the Escalade is still able to drive around in our community. The driver of the Escalade must have been driving at over 8o miles per hour when he hit the PT Cruiser. A witness told me the driver was on a cell phone when he hit the PT Cruiser. I understand from another witness that the Escalade driver drove through a red light at Stonehill before driving through the light at Selva and Golden Lantern killing Mr.Raith instantly. I was the 3rd car after Mr.Raith’s car. The left hand turn arrow was green for at least the count of 7 seconds before Mr. Raith made the turn. I did not see the Escalade hit the PT Cruiser, but I did see debris flying over 30 feet into the air.

  • Well . . . that makes sense that the d.a. would not release a name. How about some good journalism? Interview people? Look up the license plate number owner? Get a copy of the accident report? Look up records. Geez, I could figure this one out, and I’m not a reporter. How was it that this driver was whisked away, with no trace of identity? I can think of gazillions of accidents covered in newspapers where drivers are identified by reporters. The neighborhood is asking for accountability in reporting and news.

    • Thank you Julie. My friend and myself are very upset by this accident.

      Totally avoidable had the Escalade driver been obey some basic road rules. The speed limit on Golden Lantern is too high.

      Driving from Ralph’s market by CVS down GL at 40 miles per hour, I am continually harassed by drivers overtaking me. The entire street has homes all the way to Dana Harbor Drive, + there is a high school. I thought residential streets require a 35 mile and hour limit. What is wrong with Dana Point police? I see them on GL as they turn into the police station, but not after that. Maybe once a month I see them on GL, but usually when school lets out.

  • All of the comments are asking (in different ways) for the DP times to at least contact the
    Dana Point sheriff’s office and get some information. Having been in a serious accident with a lunatic driver and having to deal with the sheriff I know it can be difficult.
    But that’s what you’re supposed to do, deal with it.

  • It’s July 6 now and we’re supposed to all have forgotten the crime mystery of who killed this man in own neighborhood.

  • I can’t think of another tragic car accident in a news report that did not have the drivers’ names released within a few days, and unfortunately too many of these stories are in the news every day. This is ridiculous. Who killed Thomas Raith?!

  • It’s heartening to know that at least one person remembers this horrible car debacle.
    I had hoped that we would at least see more police enforcing traffic laws on Golden Lantern
    but it’s still a dangerous race track with no regard for traffic laws.

    • Yes Ron it is, and getting worst. Why not have a flashing speed sign like the one on Stonehill?

      Julie, the licence was covered with brown paper.

  • Ron, you are right and it is only getting worse. We need speed warnings.
    Julie, the licence plate was covered up.

    • Our street–one of the Lanterns–is a speedway. No monitoring or ticketing. And they might as well take the stop signs and speed bumps away because they don’t make any difference to the high speed of the drivers and safety of the residential street. This tragedy for Mr. Raith is unconscionable. Add to that, the mystery, albeit secrecy.

      • Russ Chilton RE: traffic Accident death 04/09/2016

        Between a Chrysler PT Cruiser and a Black Cadillac Escalade

        Corner of Golden Lantern and Selva Road. Approximately 2:26pm

        I was the third car in line behind The PT Cruiser on Selva Road waiting to turn onto Golden Lantern. I saw a black flash, heard a huge BOOM, and debris flying over 30 feet into the air. I assume the black flash was the speeding black SUV.

        Mr.Reith was driving the silver PT Cruiser. My guess was he died on impact. The Cadillac was going at very high speed through the red light at the corner of Golden Lantern and Selva Road. A witness subsequently told me that the driver of the Black SUV went through the red light at Stonehill, and another witness told me the SUV driver was on a cell phone while driving down Golden Lantern. The witness said that he was driving beside the SUV and saw the SUV driver on his cell phone.

        There were numerous witness to this accident, one being the driver of an older small silver Mercedes who stayed at the scene for over 3 hours. The Mercedes driver was in the right hand land on Golden Lantern waiting to make a right turn onto Selva. He alone must have seen the entire tragedy. The PT cruiser was pushed to within 4 feet of the silver Mercedes.

        I, and a whole lot of people in Dana Point want to know why the driver of the SUV is still able to drive on our streets and has not been named or charged with anything. We know from a tow truck driver that no brakes were applied in the SUV.

        So what is your problem? How much shut and closed does a case have to be to charge the SUV driver and at least get him off our streets?

        Corinne Newell & Mr.Maxi (the dog)

        • I’m glad that at least one person still remembers that shocking day. To witness the Escalade
          run the red light at high speed and kill another law abiding person, well, one just doesn’t
          forget it. We have asked the Dana Point Times to follow up on this and our pleas have brought no
          results. The O.C. Register also printed news of the tragedy but with no follow up.
          Dana Point streets are getting more and more dangerous. People just don’t stop for red lights or
          stop signs. The average speed on Golden Lantern and Niguel Road is over 60mph. What happened to traffic enforcement!

          • You can’t live around here and forget about this tragedy! There was a memorial on the street divider for awhile. I WANT TO KNOW, and some one is hoping that we forget. Who was driving that killer vehicle, and who is keeping who quiet?

  • Who killed Thomas Raith? it’s now the middle of September and still no news has been released regarding the driver of the Escalade. The people of Dana Point and the Raith family deserve better. One is only left thinking that this is a cover-up of some type. I don’t remember ever seeing an accident where the license plate was covered up with brown paper and the uninjured driver was wisked away so quickly. Unfortunately for Mr. Raith and the traumatized witnesses and the people driving by, Mr. Raith sat there in his car for hours. Why have none of the above witnesses been questioned? They’re basically is no question of that drivers guilt, it was witnessed by too many people.

    • I spoke with a very defensive Dana Point Police Sergeant a couple of weeks ago, and he said they do not have the toxicology results back yet. Honestly, I find it hard to believe. Six weeks is the usual time for toxicology results. I bet the Rait family appreciate you interest.

      DANA POINT POLICE AND THE OC DA NEED TO GET THEIR ACT TOGETHER NOW!!!!!

  • Perhaps the Grand Jury could investigate. The Grand Jury is made up of regular citizens who can ask hard questions without worrying about their political careers.

    The Grand Jury is not allowed to review specific cases being prepared for hearing in Superior Court of Orange County, so this specific case is off limits. But they can investigate why toxicology tests continue take months to complete, after the Grand Jury has TWICE written reports stating that this was unacceptable. They can also investigate why police officers cover license plates with paper after a collision.

    From the web site: “The Grand Jury does not act as an ombudsman for county citizens. However, the Grand Jury will review all concerns and may produce a study on the issue, if the concern is deemed appropriate. Otherwise, no further action will be taken..”.

    http://www.ocgrandjury.org/default.asp

    • I was told recently that a current Orange County Supervisor witnessed the accident involving Mr.Raith. I have not idea it that is true or not.

    • It’s also third-world to wait six weeks, or in this case FIVE MONTHS, for toxicology reports. This case smacks funny business, to put it nicely! The citizens and residents deserve better than what the sheriff and local news are dishing out here. Grand Jury, bigger newspapers than this wimpy little rag, what else??

      • Could the delay have something to do with the City election? I was told recently that a current OC Supervisor was a witness to the accident. Humm, gets more interesting every day.

        • Does that mean we’re going to wait until November? Who would that be, and why? I’m not getting notices of the replies on this feed–except occasionally.

        • It’s been almost six months since this murder took place, and the news, nor the sheriff, will identify the suspect. Very unusual. Mysterious. Crooked.

          • We are continuing to check into this accident. The investigation is still ongoing, therefore we don’t have any new information to report.

          • I posted news of a similar collision at the same location (Golden Lantern and Selva Rd.) on 9/27.
            One of the cars was a rollover and was a convertable which means no protection for the drivers
            head. That post got no attention! So we have two collisions, at least one fatal, at the same intersection. Wouldn’t it be basic common sense for the Dana Point Sheriffs to patrol that area more frequently? And to make public the results of their investigation of the first one?
            I guess not. I’m going to buy a crash helmet!

          • Sorry, but I don’t buy the “ongoing investigation” response. Is this a major airliner crash? A bus crash killing 13 people? A scientific test that needed to be sent to Mars? Turtles are the investigators? Or, is it legal wrangling, cover-up, and stall? Why was the license plate covered, and the driver of the hit vehicle whisked to the hospital in an ambulance and then release with no identification provided. Drivers of accident vehicle are identified routinely in the press.

            Further, the Lantern streets are freeways–the cars go so fast I can hardly see them pass. We LIVE on these streets. Our children play here. Thousands attend and walk to neighborhood schools.

            How can our public employees and elected “officials” NOT be paying attention to this?????

  • I want to inform the folks who have been concerned about the fatal collision at Golden Lantern and Selva that another collision took place this afternoon Tues. 9/27. One car, a convertible, was
    upside down(laying on it’s roof). It was facing the wrong way on Golden Lantern. The ambulance was just leaving as I arrived so I don’t know the condition of the driver. The other vehicle was less
    damaged but still pretty bad. It was pretty awful!

    • Golden Lantern is a speed track It should be a rated as a residential zone. + business district speed zone. I know the police read this page, so why do they do something about the speed.? They have a permanently installed sign on Stonehill to warn of speeding, why not Golden Lantern?

      A couple of Days ago I was waiting for a green light at the Crn of Selva and Golden Ltn, going north/east. I had my right flasher going to warn I was making immediate right turn into the W.P. complex and a crazy driver just zoomed through on my right and then moved into the left lane. What a shock. Where are the police at 3pm in the afternoon and golden Lantern

  • I’m sorry to hear this and hoping that there weren’t injuries. I also wish that the sheriff department monitored speed[ing] on our residential streets. It’s out of control–obviously!

  • Just wrote an email hoping it will be published. As a pedestrian walking my dogs I have been so close to being run over crossing PCH by autos turning left and not stopping for me. The closest happened this morning., I’m still in shock! All incidences that I’ve experienced have been reported to the Police Dept. here in DP.

  • It’s time for an answer. 2016 is almost over. Dana Point Times????? Have you decided to not report on this ini spite of comments and requests for answers?

    • Something is very wrong with this INVESTIGATION.

    • We have been checking into this, but if the police say the investigation is still ongoing there is no new information for us to report. We will continue to check into it.

      • This is ridiculous. Has anyone EVER heard of a car accident investigation taking over 6 months??! I didn’t know Mr. Raith, but I think of him and his family all the time. It’s time for some answers NOW!

          • Someone should bring this case up at the next DP city council meeting during public comments. We have two new council members who will understand how the secrecy surrounding this incident and the length of the “traffic investigation” undermines the public’s right for information and justice in Dana Point. The city is a client of the Sheriffs department and has a right and obligation to compel the department to perform its duty to the public in timely manner. This case get more press attention if your comments are presented on the record in a public forum.
            .

      • Checking into it? Does that mean asking and accepting the answer? Is there an investigative journalist that can look into it?

  • I think of this tragedy every time I drive through the intersection of Selva and Golden Lantern, which is daily! And when I see a racing car driving down Golden Lantern, which is also daily.

  • I have always thought it was 35 miles per hour in a residential zone. Driveways and houses all down the St or the Golden Lantern. Crazy drivers in powerful SUV’s and Cars

  • The Orange County sheriff, Sandra Hutchens, lives here in Dana Point. Let’s ask for a comment
    from her.

    • Good idea – whatever can bring closure to this. It is absolutely ABSURD this is taking so long – my heart goes out to his family – my brain questions what is REALLY going on..

  • DP Times – I just looked up Mr. Raith on several of those “public records” web sites including Intellius and Spokeo.. They list the names of his family members and, for $50.00 the site will provide contact information.

    This sounds like it has the potential to be the kind of story that investigative journalists dream of. I ask, with respect; Are you reporters or are you journalists? Surely there is a young, fresh out of college reporter who takes her/his 1st Amendment responsibilities seriously.

  • Mr. Raith lived on Chula Vista. Just type in his name and his address will come up.

  • Are we “there” yet? We’re not going to forget, even now that it’s January. Especially now as cars speed down Blue Lantern at 50 or 60, at least, on a normal basis.. ‘Might as well take the stop signs down as few regard them. Crashes waiting to happen. Again.

    • I’m glad that people are continuing to ask for a thorough resolution to the April car crash. It does look pretty bleak for those of us seeking an answer to our questions. Meanwhile, I keep seeing more collisions around the same area of Dana Point.

    • I’m not one who goes for conspiracy theories, but this sure smacks of a cover-up. Maybe a call to the local FBI would help. If Carona, who was a good guy, went to jail for using a helo “to enrich himself”, then covering up a manslaughter case should be a slam dunk.
      Don’t let the current national news distract from this VERY disturbing local issue. . What is occurring here is unprecedented. Use the power of social media to spread the word about this case.

      • The new city council has email addresses available for contacting them. I’ve forwarded this last DP Times comment to the new mayor with the hope that we can hear some answers into this cover up about this horrific accident, covered license plates, 10-month long lab results and investigations, and silence.

        • Thank you. Maybe we should hold a protest on Sunday April 9th at the 4 corners, Golden Lantern and Selva and call the TV channels.

          • Francis, that is an excellent idea. April 9th is a Sunday, which is the best day to get people out on the street for 90 minutes, but not for broadcast media coverage. The one year anniversary will be Saturday, the 8th, which is even worse for coverage. Social media, however, is a powerful tool, and I will post announcements to the local FB groups. I will wait until about March 8th; one month should be the right amount of time to inform people without overdoing it. We need a leader to coordinate this, and contact media. The person responsible for this tragedy is out there driving around as if nothing happened. If the driver was a foreign diplomate claiming immunity he/she is probably already back in their own country, But the public has a right to know.

          • I think a vigil on April 9th is a fabulous idea and I am willing to go along with my husband and I will bring my family because we witnessed the aftermath of this accident and my family knows how upset we were that he was left there for so many hours. I’m ashamed to say we also have photos.

        • What came out your your contact with the Mayor ?

          • Nada. 11-month “anniversary” yesterday. I guess we’re depending upon this rag to publish answers. What other way(s) can a citizen get information?

          • Today is Sunday April 9th, see you all at the Corner of Golden Lantern and Selva Road at 2:45pm as a mark of respect for the Raith family

          • I sent an email to the mayor’s published address and didn’t receive a response. Has anyone heard anything from the family?

  • This accident happened on April 9th not the 8th. This reporter got the date wrong.

  • Less than a month now until the one year anniversary of this tragedy. Still no identification of the person who killed Thomas Raith. I still think of him and his family all the time. I have not forgetten. No one thus far has been able to get any answers. Mr. Raith’s family and the people of Dana Point need to know who killed him. I am so upset by this cover up.

    • We all are upset and worried that the driver of the SUV has been able to escape justice for this long. How much longer can this D.A. and police service take. An attorney once told me there is no such thing as Justice. The driver of the SUV must be some mucky, mucky or relative of a mucky, mucky. Come on D.P. police you know who it is, and you have the test for the driver and his SUV for almost 10 month.. We know it was a slim man, wearing dockers and a blue shirt. So what is his name?

  • We all are upset and worried that the driver of the SUV has been able to escape justice for this long. How much longer can this D.A. and police service take. An attorney once told me there is no such thing as Justice. The driver of the SUV must be some mucky, mucky or relative of a mucky, mucky. Come on D.P. police you know who it is, and you have the test for the driver and his SUV for almost 10 month.. We know it was a slim man, wearing dockers and a blue shirt. So what is his name?

  • I think a vigil on April 9th is a fabulous idea and I am willing to go along with my husband and I will bring my family because we witnessed the aftermath of this accident and my family knows how upset we were that he was left there for so many hours. I’m ashamed to say we also have photos.

    • My sense is that this would be appropriate and a great idea IF the family agrees. And who knows who the family includes?!

  • The family may even join us. I know they are following our comments

    • Family members have access to the accident report. I assume that the insurance companies and legal team have kept them informed and as satisfied as possible under the circumstances. I’m sensitive, as much as I can be anyway, to their feelings.

  • Julie, you do what you want to do,

    • Julie, Francine, Corinne and others in this thread:

      I see that apparently an email was sent to me at my city website address without a response. I want to let you all know that I did not receive an email from you Julie, or anyone else, on this subject or I would have responded. I do respond to my emails. For a while, the city emails were down and emails during that period were lost. Please try again using lewisdpcc@gmail.com. This email goes to me directly, not through the city server.

      I also want you to know that a month ago or so, I spoke with staff about this very incident. I said that resident perception was that this accident involved a cover up because nothing has been reported to residents about the incident although it took place some time ago. The license plate being covered up only added to the suspicion and belief that the city was hiding something. I recommended that something be reported but was told by staff that all this is standard procedure when investigating a fatal crash so that nothing is published before the facts of the incident are investigated and verified as inaccurate information could be harmful to the family of the deceased and to
      the driver of the car. I had no reason to doubt that statement.

      However, given the level of concern and distrust expressed by residents here, I will look into this further and let you know what I find out.

      Debra Lewis
      Mayor

  • Corinne, Julie and all others in this thread:

    I want to let everyone in this thread know that I did not receive an email from Julie, or anyone else, on this subject or I would have responded. For a while around this time period, the city’s email server was down and emails were lost. Please email me directly at lewisdpcc.com. This email address comes to me directly, not through the city’s server. I do my very best to respond timely to all emails I receive.

    I also want to let you know that about a month or so ago, I did inquire about this incident with city staff. I said that the perception was that a cover up had taken place because no report had been given after the incident and the license plates of the driver’s vehicle were covered, which only added to the suspicion. I suggested that the city report on what happened as soon as possible, but was told that these procedures were standard in a fatal accident. I was also informed that it could be harmful to the family and to the driver if inaccurate information was reported before the incident is completely investigated and verified. I had no reason to doubt these statements from staff.

    However, given the level of concern, suspicion and distrust, I will investigate further and let you know what I am able to learn.

    Debra Lewis
    Mayor

    • On 2/1/2017, I wrote to dlewis@danapoint.org

      It was a “forward” of this message stream, plus a note. The message is in my “sent” folder.

      I really appreciate our mayor’s response today!!! Wahoo!

      • Here is what I have learned. On 12/8/16 the Raith Family, through its lawyer, filed a civil lawsuit for wrongful death, case number 30-2016 00891330 CU PA CJC. The complaint is public record and can be viewed and the allegations read by any member of the public by visiting the Orange County Superior Court’s website.

        • Hmm, thanks so much for the follow-up! I spent $15 to learn (on a very clunky website) that the driver’s name is Keith Gallo, owner of Gallo Corporation, a luxury home construction company in Laguna Beach and Park City. He has not been criminally charged with anything yet, which is curious, indeed! As indicated, the family has filed a civil lawsuit. And you all probably know about coming court dates. ‘Will be in touch.

          • Orange County Superior Court websites lets you search for free ONLY if you have the case number, which is why I included it. If you have to search by name or business name, Orange County charges you for the search. You have to open an account and prepay. This is the only court website I have ever used that makes you pay to search.

            The OC DA has sole authority to charge or not charge someone criminally. I did learn that recently, the OC DA’s office appointed a victim’s advocate for the family.

          • Strong work, Julie! And Mayor Lewis – How refreshing it is to have a public official not only acknowledge the public’s concern, but to actually follow through. Much respect! The people here on this thread have suspected some level of malfeasance since the first day. My heart goes out to the Raith family. But this may be bigger than their personal tragedy, If someone who is sworn uses the weight of their shield to tip the scales of justice it affects all of us. I hope that that is not the case, and I hope the Raith family gets closure soon.

          • I see the suspicion throughout the thread, but please, let the legal process takes its course before drawing any conclusions regarding malfeasance or bad intent. The facts will come out through the lawsuit and if any improper conduct occurred, it will be proven based upon those facts. Having been a lawyer for 30 years, I understand the law is slow to work and frustrating but it is our system.

          • It’s so helpful to have your expertise and position to inform this discussion! It’s a civics lesson, besides. Why doesn’t the criminal justice process proceed independent of the civil law suit? If neither party had a family, financial means, and/or know-how about how to work within our system, would no legal action take place? Isn’t there an accident report or something that’s public information?

  • It is shocking how fast Debra Lewis was able to bring some crucial information to this story. The comment thread for this accident is the longest one ever on this website, The Dana Point Times should have taken the responsibility to investigate and provide this information to its readers a long time ago. Debra Lewis handled it in about 2 hours. If the DP Times expects to be taken seriously it needs to do better.

    • Julie:

      The criminal and civil sides of the law do work independently. Criminal is for punishment with a standard of “beyond a reasonable doubt” needed to convict a defendant. . Civil is for money damages once plaintiff proves that defendant more likely than not committed the wrong that caused plaintiff’s damages. . Someone can be charged, tried and convicted without being sued for money damages and vice versa. In the Raith case, there is already a pending civil lawsuit for money damages which will continue, even if there is no prosecution. But plaintiffs can use the police report and other criminal evidence to prove their case in the civil suit.

      In terms of money needed to sue, generally a wrongful death action is taken on a contingency basis, meaning a plaintiff does not have to pay the lawyer unless plaintiff wins and recovers money, then the lawyer gets a percentage of the award.

      • Thank you again. I hope I’m not the only one benefitting from this!! Bottom line, last question: When will this driver be charged? How long does the police have to bring closure to this case and investigation and decision? Are they waiting for a May 2018 trial, and the information from that?! I think the community wants to know why this man hasn’t been charged with anything, and how an investigation can last for 13 months.

        • Regarding civil vs criminal, an example would be the Nicole Simpson and Ron Brown case. Although the person accused of their murders was found not guilty in the criminal court, the Brown family successfully sued the alleged murderer for wrongful death in civil court, and were awarded just about everything he owned. Still, it’s not really justice.

  • Thank you Ms.Mayor, so proud of you.

  • Here is the Gallo Corporation web site. Seems like a very rich man indeed.
    http://gallocorporation.com/home.html
    Cannot help but wonder!

  • I will be speaking to the City council this coming Tuesday night April 18 about this incident and the city’s “response” to it. I would urge the people who have followed this incident to be there and speak as well. My contact info is stevestewart1@cox.net if you would like to coordinate on what to say. I hope there will be other people from our community who are willing to stand up and demand better from our city management and police chief going forward. For the record, Dana Point pays more money per capita ($319 per resident) than any other city in Orange County for Sheriff’s police services. Are we getting what we pay for?

    • News is: Decision by D.A. is newly to NOT charge Keith Gallo with any violations. He had an emergency medical condition. Stunned is not the word.

  • Why doesn’t Keith Gallo pay for, and build a shelter for the homeless in Laguna Beach? Cheaper than paying for high priced attorney to defend his driving that killed Mr.Raith April 9th 2016

    He has soooooo much money. Also, Check the Daily Pilot Laguna Beach September 2015 letter to the editor.

    • Evidently Keith Gallo thinks that homeless people leave vermin behind. At the very least, Keith Gallo could perform community service in shelters for homeless children and families.

      His riches paid for excellent legal aid and who knows what else to make this happen. The DP Times needs to explain why they didn’t follow up on reporting, the sheriffs have some explaining to do for waiting 12+ months, and the district attorney makes me question the office’s integrity.

      Stinky. Very very stinky.

  • A quick Google search showed that a Keith Gallo had issues in Riverside Superior Court in 2007 – issues that disappeared when the Riverside County DA intervened. Can anyone find out if this is the same Gallo?

  • A medical emergency????? not according to his actions witnessed by the multidude of witnesses…

    Essentially, you have to be able to prove that the accident was in no way caused by negligence on your part. Generally, in order to use a medical emergency defense, you must be able to prove all of the following:
    You lost control right before the accident occurred.
    Your loss of control caused the accident to happen.
    You lost control because of an unpredictable medical emergency.

    Based on the law set forth in Cohen, Waters, Bashi, Civil Code section 41, and related case law, a defendant asserting the sudden physical-medical-emergency defense has the burden to affirmatively prove the following: (1) That defendant driver was telling the truth; (2) The medical cause of the alleged sudden condition the defendant driver experienced was a physical, rather than mental, medical emergency; (3) That it was a sudden condition which immediately rendered defendant unable to control the vehicle; (4) That defendant driver had no reason to anticipate or foresee this sudden physical medical condition; and (5) Whether the defense could be considered to overcome the presumptions of negligence (res ipsa loquitur or negligence per se). The case law specifically provides that these issues are questions of fact for the jury to decide

    Qualifications for an Unexpected Medical Emergency
    More often than not, an unexpected medical emergency will cause you to lose consciousness, or otherwise keep you from being able to physically control your car. Some examples of unforeseeable medical complications include:
    Heart attacks.
    Seizures.
    Fainting.
    Sudden drops in blood pressure.
    Diabetic episodes.
    Strokes.
    Mental delusions.
    Bad reactions to medication.

    Exceptions to a Medical Emergency Defense Claim
    Before you consider using a medical emergency defense, you must be positive that the event was unforeseeable. You may be disqualified from using the medial emergency defense if you:
    Had previous knowledge of your medical condition.
    Have been given instructions not to drive from your doctor.
    Did not eat or drink enough throughout the day, which might cause a drop in blood pressure.
    Have previous issues with your health relating to the incident.
    Have received explicit warnings not to drive while using certain medications.

    The focus of discovery should be on obtaining evidence that can in any way prove: (1) the defendant driver was not telling the truth; (2) there is insufficient evidence to prove that the medical cause of the alleged sudden medical condition the defendant driver experienced was physical rather than mental; (3) this sudden condition did not immediately render defendant unable to control the vehicle; (4) the defendant had reason to anticipate or foresee this sudden physical medical condition; and (5) the conduct at issue meets the elements of negligence per se and res ipsa loquitur. In other words, discovery should be focused on establishing that the defendant cannot meet the burden to affirmatively prove all the requirements of the medical-emergency defense addressed above.

    In a medical emergency a reasonable person should know to pullover to the side of the road and call 911 if able, or ONStar or such…and let the dispatcher know your exact location,…they then summon police and emergency medical personnel as required…and send the emergency assistance to you immediately.

    The knowledge of a reasonable person in the law of negligence, is knowledge that should be known to the common man.

  • Thank you for your research and putting the accident in the correct perspective.

    Please keep us up to date.

  • Is there any follow-up information? Mt Stewart, you had said that you were going to speak at the April 18 City Council meeting? Did that happen? Was there a response? Information stopped being shared just as momentum towards the truth was building. I hope that all the voices here have not given up.

  • Just wondering . . . . Keith Gallo was released immediately from the hospital after he tragically crashed into Mr. Raith’s car and killed him instantly. How is it that he had a medical emergency so severe that he did this, sat in the ambulance for awhile before being transported to the hospital, and then was released from the hospital and emergency care? This just isn’t going to go away, Gallo. Every time I see the gigantic front end of a black Escalade, I think of this ugliness.

  • Thank you Julie for saying what needs to be said. Why? Why? Why? is Keith Gallo allowed to drive our streets? This entire accident has a big black cloud over it and so do the investigators.

  • Just so you all know, I did attend the City Council meeting last night to do what I said I would: I presented “public comments”, trying to summarize in three minutes our sentiments about this tragedy and the lack of forthcoming information. I described the situation, complained that the community was left in the dark for more than a year, asked that our streets be patrolled for speeding, and asked that the phoney-baloney investigation of Mr. Gallo determining that he had a “medical emergency” be re-opened. That’s all we can do that I know of!

    Mr. Raith lost his life.

    Corrine, one of our thread contributors, is very ill.

    I’ve met some very thoughtful people through this!

    • Julie:

      Thank you for coming to Council last night and sharing your thoughts. I understand that 3 minutes is not much time to speak to any issue, much less one as involved and emotional as this one. You did a good job. As I stated in my Council Corner article last week in the DP Times, the city gave the police all the money Chief Chilton asked for to deliver to Dana Point what OCSD calls Premium Service. We thank our dedicated police force and as residents, we look forward to
      • Significant reduction in property crime
      • Significant increase in enforcement of speed limits and traffic laws
      • An active partnership with an effective Homeless Task Force
      • Enhanced public visibility on our streets and in our neighborhoods and
      • A robust, effective city-wide Neighborhood Watch Program.
      As for the investigation of Mr. Gallo, the facts, including whether or not the medical emergency defense is valid, will come to light through the lawsuit the family filed against Gallo last December. I try to keep people up to date on city information on my Facebook page, Debra Lewis for Dana Point City Council. Please feel free to visit it and comment if something is on your mind. On a sadder note, I am so sorry to hear that Corrine is very ill. Please let her know that I hope she is able to make a speedy recovery.

      Debra Lewis

  • Thank you, Julie, for the update. I am now in Oregon but Capo Beach / Dana Point will always be my Home, and I look forward to once again being a homeowner there. If I were in town I would be attending the council meetings. I spoke via email with a reporter at the Orange County Register about this case. He has been tracking the corruption in the Orange County DA’s office, and he is the reason that 60 Minutes did a story on Rackaukus, etc. At first he didn’t seem to take me seriously, but I sent him a link to this page and he answered back with, “Wow!”. That’s the last I heard from him, and it was 2 weeks ago. A public affairs officer for a local non-OCSD municipal police agency was also interested, but again, no contact for 2 weeks.
    Nothing is more frightening than public officials who feel that they are above the public that they serve. The lack of transparency, and the outright lies about waiting for “tox screens” when they obviously had already completed them, needs to be exposed to some sunlight. If I’m the only one still following this thread, at least there are 2 of us! If there is anything I can do from Oregon please let me know, dmartin1144@gmail.com

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