Corona del Mar Today: Cyclist's widow sues the city

The widow and children of a cyclist killed last July on Spyglass Hill Road are suing the city of Newport Beach, along with two neighborhood associations and the driver of the truck that struck and killed Michael Nine.

Nine, 43, of Santa Ana, was with a group of about 25 cyclists who rode from Tustin to Newport Coast on July 15, 2010. The group had crested Spyglass Hill Road and were near the exit-only, gated road to the Harbor Ridge development when the crash occurred at about 8 a.m.

Police said a gardener's truck was in the southbound, uphill lane. One cyclist in the group said he was at the head of the pack and yelled, "Truck! Truck! Truck!" when he saw it blocking the road. Everyone was able to swerve around the truck, but Nine collided and later died of his injuries.

The wrongful death suit was filed in April in Orange County Superior Court. The suit claims that the city of Newport Beach failed to create warning signs and safe sight lines and "designed and constructed inconsistent and confusing signing and striping facilities, posing an unreasonable risk of harm to the public…"

Harbor Ridge Estates Maintenance Assn. and Harbor Ridge Master Assn. "failed to erect routing signs and/or warning signs to prevent accidents … had knowledge of prior accidents in or about the same area, failed to advise other public agencies of the dangerous condition of the roadway, failed to install or installed inadequate warning systems for hidden dangers in the area creating a trap for users of the property, created and failed to correct or warn against sight line deficiencies and confusing signing and striping facilities," the suit says.

"These deficiencies created a dangerous condition of public and private property," the suit says.

The suit says the truck driver drove negligently, causing Nine's fatal injuries. The driver also is named as a defendant. He pleaded guilty in February to vehicular manslaughter without gross negligence.

The suit seeks damages for loss of "support, services, advice, training. Love, consolation, society, comfort and companionship" as well as medical, funeral and legal expenses and loss of Nine's earning capacity. Nine's widow, Tina Nine, and her daughter, 9, and son, 8, are the plaintiffs.

Nine's family filed a claim against Newport Beach in August, and the city rejected the claim in October, according to the suit.


Harbor View holds annual Field Day

Harbor View Elementary School students took a break from their classrooms Wednesday to participate in the school's traditional Field Day.

"It's fun, it's fabulous," said JoAnn Borg, a kindergarten teacher. "My students don't know what to expect. I can't wait to see what they think about it all."

Students took turns at stations that included tug-of-war, limbo, bowling, tricycle riding, potato sack racing, throwing footballs through hoops, and a relay that involved stacking empty pizza boxes.

"We won!" said Charlie Allen, a kindergartner whose team carried pizza boxes across the finish line in first place.

"I carried seven of them," said Adam Arnold.

"And I carried all of them back," said Tony Leon.

Third-graders teamed up for a battle of the sexes at the tug-of-war. The girls won.

"I knew we were stronger," said Maddie Seybold.

"A lot of the time, the girls win," Ellie Schoen added.

Field Day takes place the last Wednesday of the school year. Lower grades participate in the events in the morning, and older students participate later in the day.

The last day of school was Friday.


Police Neighborhood Watch meetings trimmed to four

The Newport Beach Police Department will hold Neighborhood Watch meetings quarterly going forward instead of monthly, the coordinator said.

"We will still put out crime alerts," said Andi Querry, a crime prevention specialist who runs the Neighborhood Watch meetings. "We have a game plan. We will meet four times a year."

Querry told the group of about 20 people Tuesday that budget cuts and department changes moved officers onto the street, so she and her co-workers will now be responsible for extra duties including running school anti-drug programs to replace D.A.R.E. and handling media information requests.

Neighborhood Watch meetings had been held monthly. The hourlong meetings included updates on crimes in neighborhoods throughout the city, with updates from Querry and police lieutenants.

In October, police began using the Nixle system to alert residents about crimes. The system lets police target specific neighborhoods, and residents can sign up to receive alerts by text message or email. Police also use Facebook, Twitter and the AlertOC telephone message system to let residents know about crimes and emergencies.

Querry said she would continue to be available to discuss crimes with Neighborhood Watch leaders, but she plans to focus more attention on community meetings and home security assessments.

She and Lt. Bill Hartford told the group the biggest message they should tell their neighbors is to remove valuables from their cars and lock car doors.

"No place is sacred," Querry said. "You can not leave property in plain sight."

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