Paso Robles teen charged in death of bicyclist

January 29, 2015

lady-justice2The San Luis Obispo County District Attorney’s Office has opted to prosecute an 18-year-old Paso Robles man who was the driver in a November collision that killed one bicyclist and severely injured another.

Joseph Mondo struck the two bicyclists while reaching to pick up his cell phone from the floor of his SUV, according to the CHP. Just prior to the crash, he allegedly swerved off the road to avoid hitting a vehicle while trying an initial time to pick up the phone.

Los Angeles resident Lee Heykung Craig, 62, died in the collision. Seal Beach resident Lawrence Chong, 59, survived after receiving treatment in the hospital for his injuries.

Mondo only faces a single misdemeanor charge. Prosecutors charged him with vehicular manslaughter.

The crash occurred on Nov. 28 on Nacimiento Lake Drive near Adelaide Road. Mondo is scheduled to appear in San Luis Obispo Superior Court on Feb. 11.

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According to the Tribune story he was not using his phone. It slipped off the seat and he tried to pick it up. So, any of you that have EVER reached down to pick up anything while driving a vehicle could have been in the same position. My guess is this would include every single driver who reads this. Just a warning to all, the laws are being applied much more harshly than anytime in the past. The fact it happened to be a cell phone is immaterial. Who among us has never reached down to pick something up off the floor while driving? Wallet, water bottle, money, map, make-up, Kleenex, food, shoe, pill bottle, pen and on and on and on.

“According to … ” um, that would probably be from a police report, which is most likely a report based on interviewing the suspect. Was the suspect truthful in his telling of the accident, or is it possible that he came up with the “I dropped my phone … ” as a way of deflecting a charge of inattentive or distracted driving because he actually was using the phone? I certainly hope the DA subpoenas the driver’s mobile phone records, and can pinpoint exactly when his phone was in use on the day of the accident. It is possible that the young man was telling the truth, but also just as likely he wasn’t. I do hope all the relevant facts come out.

This was his 2nd attempt to pick up the phone off the floor-bed.

He had already nearly swerved off the road once to avoid a head-on collision the first time he attempted to pick it up.

The 2nd time he attempted to pick it – likely a few seconds later – he killed someone and seriously injured another.

Does that sound like reasonable behavior?

This should be prosecuted as murder. How long must we put up with a DA who doesn’t launch significant charges against cretins who kill others with their cars while fiddling with phones, driving while stoned, etc.? We have a long string of these where nothing happens to the perps, especially if they come from “good families.” Till that changes, our highways will remain murder sites, and selfish narcissistic behavior that kills others will be rewarded.

Lee Craig was the wife of Dr. Lawrence Chong whose condition is still unknown to the public.

Dr. Chong is an accomplished doctor who was the valedictorian of his college class at USC, and attended Harvard for his medical degree. He was a full professor at USC with 65 research publications and two books before he opened his own clinic. His specialty as a board certified opthamalogist is vitreo-retinal surgery. He was voted a top doctor in the US by his peers, speaks 6 languages, and has privileges at 15 different hospitals in LA. His wife was a hospital administrator who was also accomplished and well liked by her associates.

I am putting this information out because no one so far in this county has even identified “Lawrence Chong” as Dr. Lawrence Chong.

Thanks for that important information. This is a terrible tragedy on all sides but I hope this kid gets the max.

Apparently, cellphones are more valuable then people.

Vehicular manslaughter; if this young man is charged and convicted of normal negligence, he receives a maximum sentence of one year in county jail. If he is charged and convicted of gross negligence, his maximum sentence, by California law is six years in prison, for killing another human being. If the person killed were a relative of mine, I would be pretty upset, but that is the law. There definitely needs to be a change to the law to place enhancements (stiffer penalties) for those who are proven to have been using their mobile phone in any capacity, period.

Drivers who feel compelled to use their cell phones despite laws and common sense – please ask yourself if that call or text is worth someone else’s life.