Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Avary Arraignment Postponed

Oscar-winning screenwriter now due in court Feb. 15

By Lenny Roberts

A single-vehicle crash early on the morning of Jan 13 on East Ojai Avenue in front of Ojai Lumber killed a 34-year-old man reportedly visiting from Italy. The visitor, Andreas Zini, was pronounced dead at the Ventura County Medical Center several hours after the 12:34 a.m. accident.
According to Ojai Chief of Police Bruce Norris, the driver of the car, Ojai resident Roger Avary, 42, failed to negotiate a turn in the highway and crashed into a power pole.
Avary was uninjured, but his 40-year-old wife, Gretchen, was ejected from the couple’s 2000 Mercedes and discovered by deputies lying in the road. She was transported to the Ojai Valley Community Hospital with serious, but non-life-threatening injuries, according to Norris. Roger Avary was booked on suspicion of felony DUI and felony gross vehicular manslaughter.
A statement released Monday by publicist Julie Polkes states, “Roger wishes to publicly convey his heartfelt condolences to the family of the deceased. Words cannot express how sorry he is, and this tragic accident will always haunt him.”
Avary, a screenwriter, director and producer who won an Oscar in 1994 for co-authoring “Pulp Fiction,” was released after posting $50,000 bail, and is scheduled to appear in court Feb. 15.
Ojai Avenue was closed for 90 minutes on Monday while Ventura County Sheriff’s Department traffic investigators researched the accident scene.

Senior Deputy Jim Popp reconstructs the traffic collision in front of Ojai Lumber Monday afternoon.Popp said, "This is just a horrific ending. I'm sorry for all involved."

Photo by Rob Clement


Anonymous said...

What can be said about this
sad story. All the success
and riches can't buy back
time or other more
valuable losses, but
alcohol is a cruel task
master, destroying and
taking lives with pale
cold indifference.Would
hope local watering holes
or wherever they had last
call would have cut off
points for customers- not the case here...

filmex said...

90% of the people that drink wine with their dinner tonight will be driving home in their own cars. This hardly makes one a slave to the demon rum.

There but for the grace of God go many of us, when our lives can be irreparably changed in a heartbeat.

One momentarily lapse of concentration, be it induced or not, causes accidents every day.

Here's hoping Roger, Gretchen, the Avary family and the Zini family find the healing grace that allows them some relief from their pain and heartbreak in the days to come.

Anonymous said...

It seems that there was a lot of alcohol consumed by Mr Avery and his companions that night at Azu. This doesn't appear to be a 'glass of wine with dinner, or a momentary lapse of concentration issue'. It is a bad judgment issue. But, nonetheless, one that many have made..and got away with. Sadly, not this time.

Anonymous said...

Maybe Ojai needs some random sobriety checkpoints like they have in other areas.

I'd vote for that.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, that's just what Ojai needs -- more cops.

Give me a break.

I think we'd all be wise to reserve judgement on this one until all of the facts are in.

blogorama said...

I've observed the size of the cocktails at restaurants in Ojai. Drinking one of the martinis at popular night spots is certainly equivalent of at least two of the normal-sized you'd get in most restaurants.
I've walked out with a patron who was three sheets to the wind after only two of their martinis in her. No one on the wait staff cut her off when she was clearly enebriated.
I wonder if this was a factor in this case?

Anonymous said...

I have seen bartenders in Ojai poor alcohol straight from the bottle, down into the mouths of babes and let them drive off. I have a personal experience with this and after witnessing a friend getting a DUI after leaving there, called the bar to tell the bartender what happened just to shake him up a bit. I think that servers are equally responsible and know damn well that their tip will be bigger if they pour bigger. Ultimately the driver changes his life in an instant but we should all be looking out for one another and maybe a life could have been saved.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, that's just what Ojai needs -- more cops.

I like cops. Ojai doesn't have enough of them. People who want a return to the days of an Ojai Police force have no idea how many more cops there were on the street then, including traffic control. There were a lot. If we had that many cops today, we'd have no gang problem, at the very least. We'd still have as many alcoholics as a depressed mill town, but at least they'd be walking or riding bicycles or taking cabs instead of killing themselves and other people.

Anonymous said...

No one on the wait staff cut her off when she was clearly enebriated.

California has no law requiring bartenders to cut off drunks. There are states that have such laws, but California isn't one of them.

Anonymous said...

While Calif might not have a law for cutting of drunks. They can still be held liable if an accident is caused by someone who is drunk upon leaving the establishment.

Anonymous said...

They can still be held liable if an accident is caused by someone who is drunk upon leaving the establishment.

Since there is no criminal penalty for over-serving a drunk in California, a civil judgement is difficult to win.

Mark Nash said...

This is a sad situation for all involved, but blaming the bartenders and drink servers of Ojai is a cop out. Should we penalize a restaurant that serves rich food when someone dies of heart disease. A better solution is more convienent forms of public transportation in Ojai. Possibly have the Trolley run until 2am on weekend nights or have a shutle operate. Bartenders should try to use good judgement no doubt, but they don't need to be nursemaids to adult patrons...

Anonymous said...

Why should taxpayers have to foot the transportation bill for drunks? That's what would be happening if the Trolley were to become the official Drunk Wagon.

If some private party or group wants to cough up the bucks to start a bar-to-home shuttle service, that's one thing, but spending tax revenues to take drunks home (and probably clean up their vomit) is NOT a good idea, for so many reasons.

Anonymous said...

There have been too many bad auto accidents around Ojai lately. Some have involved alcohol, some haven't. People are driving too darn fast around here. I watch commuters drive Creek Road EVERY DAY at freeway speeds and pass cars on blind curves. I know first hand how auto accidents change lives forever. Please Ojai, don't drink and drive and please obey the speed limits!

Anonymous said...

First off great mug photo. Second a dui check point should be set up here. Even better in Oak View just as you come into town from ventura.

Anonymous said...

I'm all for the DUI checkpoint. You can't complain about drunk drivers and then complain about there being too many cops, too.

If your kid or your spouse or anyone else you care for gets wasted by a drunk, you'll be screaming for enforcement and asking why no one ever did anything to control the problem, so don't whine about there being too many cops. If you're not doing anything wrong, you won't have anything to worry about.

An added plus to having surprise checkpoints is that it might make the little gangbangers and people with warrants feel less bold about driving around the Valley, and it might suppress some of the out-of-town gang traffic, too. If we do this, though, we need to be sure that the Deputies have all the resources they need, and that all alternate routes are covered at the same time. Cell phones allow people to tip each other off, so there's no sense having a check point on 33 if you're not going to have one on Creek Rd. and Santa Ana Rd. at the same time.

Anonymous said...

I don't see the logical arguement
of comparing serving rich foods
to alcohol- the latter has a much more immediate effect on the consumer, so that
rationalization doesn't fly.
I've seen too many deaths and unnecessary side effects
of too much to drink. An establisment can have their
C.U.P. revoked for overserving.
A notice that they are a responsible serving organization helps for starters. PL

Anonymous said...

Even prior to this, the Village Jester arranged for, and is talking to other bars/restaurants about, financing a shuttle bus service between 8pm and 2 am on Fridays and Saturdays. It is sorely needed.

Anonymous said...

Coulda shoulda woulda - Mr. Avery and party were all adults, adults make their own decisions, make their own mistakes, sometimes the results are tragic. Maybe one of the others could have driven instead, maybe he should have called a cab, maybe he would have called a friend to come and get them instead of getting behind the wheel himself. All these scenarios and more are certainly running through his mind now. A checkpoint in O.V. would not have helped Mr. Zini on East ojai Ave, smaller drinks or cutting off Mr. Avery from more alcohol may not have mattered much - who knows how much he consumed before he got to the restaurant. A late night trolley is a cute idea, but how many people would use it? Would he have opted to leave his beautiful Mercedes in town and sit in a trolley with the hoi poloi? He, the Oscar winning writer? Let's get real, we all would love to figure out how to mitigate the chances of more tragedies like these, but the fact remains the one behind the wheel made all the decisions, and is responsible. Whether it happens in a small town or big city, this can always be the result of drinking and driving.

James Hatch said...

Let's face it. This is a tragic accident. The reality is that drinking and driving is dangerous; even deadly.

I never thought I would say it, but Mark Nash has a good point: A trolley. Why not have one run until 2 a.m.? If Avary wouldn't ride it, than all the more to come down on him for the manslaughter.

Why should we not run the trolley at night for town drunks? We run it during the day for them already, don't we?

If a patron tells a bartender that he needs another shot for the drive home, after he's clearly drunk, and then he injures someone (not himself), the bar should be liable.

Anonymous said...

Bottom line if you are going to drink have a designated driver.

filmex said...

Anonymous wrote:
"Would he have opted to leave his beautiful Mercedes in town and sit in a trolley with the hoi poloi? He, the Oscar winning writer?"

What an ignorant comment. But, as long as you feel comfortable being judgemental behind the veneer of "Anonymous", why not go in whole hog.

You obviously know nothing in the world about Roger Avary. But don't let that interfere with your faith-based certitude.

If you did, you would know he has much more empathy with the common man than the aristocracy. There's a reason he's living in Ojai rather than Bel Air or the Hollywood Hills.

Brother! But, please continue with your armchair revolution, Comrade Lenin. Up with the proletariat!

P.S. If you are going to throw around terms like hoi polloi, at least learn how to spell it. Otherwise people might assume you don't have the slightest clue as to what you are talking about.

Anonymous said...

One of the things that drew me to Ojai was the compassionate nature of the residents. I am shocked and saddened by the gossip and judgement that I have seen surrounding this tragic event. People's lives have been altered in a really profound way, and I can only hope that the people of this community can look into their hearts and reserve judgement. No one on this site knows what the circumstances surrounding this issue were, and I would hope that if I were in a similar situation, I could rely on the community to help me through it.

Roy said...

I've seen the skid marks and he must have been going at least 90. HE caused this accident- not alcohol or speed. HE is the one responsible for this fatal and careless accident. I hope he spends many years in the pen.

Anonymous said...

I've seen the skid marks and he must have been going at least 90.

Roy... what formula did you use to calculate this figure? Please share your work with all of us.

Anonymous said...

This is getting a bit silly. Let's really look at this for a minute and move on from the name calling and chest thumping.

A man drank way too much in a place that over-served (and that much, at least, is a fact). He then chose to get in his car and drive home. He crashed the car and someone, other than he, died. Getting past the obvious...he didn't mean to do it, etc.,...There are many (maybe most?) who have consumed too many drinks and have driven home. The question of what he would have done if an alternative was available is, and will always remain, an unknown.

What we really should be talking about is how we can change the culture of what he did, in order that other don't repeat it. There are no taxi's in town. The City either doesn't care, doesn't want to provide, or doesn't have the ability to provide an alternative.

The question of whether the bar is responsible is appropriate, and I would hope that the bars in town will now begin treating this issue with more importance (for the record, I have never once known a bar to give a drink to someone, clearly drunk, who wants another one for the drive home as stated in another post). The bar is not responsible legally, but, perhaps, it would be appropriate to look at it from a different standpoint...a moral one. Is there a responsibility for what customers do after they leave your bar?

In the end, regardless of what options are available, people make choices. After consuming alcohol they are not always the ones that would be made when sober. As in other situations, good options can be made available, but it still remains up to the individual as to whether they are chosen. Personal responsibility is always key and that has been lost in many areas of life today.

I am confident that Mr Avery, knowing what would be the consequences of his actions would have chosen another path. It has nothing to do with his celebrity, wealth, or position. To suggest otherwise is simply ridiculous. The lowest of the low is apt to make the same mistakes in this type of situation as the more privileged.

This is a tragedy which could and should have been avoided, but one which is apt to be repeated sooner rather than later because we are dealing with people and people make bad choices sometimes.

Make no mistake, I do not aim to minimize Mr Avery's actions in any way, shape, or form. In fact, quite the opposite. But, let's not bring in other aspects that do not belong.

And, just as a side bar, the folks who got in the car along with him, made a bad choice, too. Either one could have attempted to create an alternative. Whether they did or not, I don't know. What is true, however, is that neither one had to get in the car. One paid the ultimate price, the other gets to live with it.

I hope the Jester succeeds with it's shuttle idea. At least it would be a start.

Anonymous said...

What is true, however, is that neither one had to get in the car. One paid the ultimate price, the other gets to live with it.

Here's one logical extension of this line of thought: A drunk leaves a bar or restaurant in Ojai late at night and, while driving home intoxicated, kills 3 pedestrians who were crossing with the light in a crosswalk. Because the pedestrians made the decision to be out walking late at night they are held to be significantly culpable for their own deaths; culpable enough, in fact, that some of the burden is lifted from the drunk driver who killed them.

Sounds great on paper (especially if you're a big Ayn Rand fan or something), but it isn't going to work out very well in court. The drunk driver is going to be seen as being significantly more at fault than the pedestrians simply because he was driving under the influence.

Anonymous said...

This morning a police officer apparently ran down a pedestrian right on Ojai Avenue, in broad daylight.

I can't wait to see what all the armchair geniuses on this thread have to say about it.

Perhaps the officer was so busy looking for expired registration tags that he failed to look out in the road right in front of him.

Assuming that is the case, clearly, overenforcement in Ojai is endangering our lives. We better get those cops off the street before they hurt someone else.

Or perhaps, they have been brewing the coffee a little too strong at the donut shop again? Those servers at the donut shop should have seen that Officer Joe was jittery already. They are at least morally culpable if not legally so. Right?

But, I digress from the obvious point: The officer ran a pedestrian down in broad daylight. Ipso facto, he was drunk. Case closed. Because one cannot have an accident unless one is drunk.

Or, did I get that wrong: Is it only when there is an intimation that the driver may have consumed some alcohol that there can be no other possible, remote cause of any accident except the demon alcohol?

(For example, deer and coyotes only cross the road in front of drunk drivers, right?)

In that case, that could be good for Officer Joe. Because, of course, if he was NOT drinking, then the accident was "just" a tragic occurrence, no culpability and no fault on his part. Could happen to any of us.

But wait: Is Officer Joe on any medications?

Perhaps he has needed a new prescription on his contacts, but didn't want to raise the issue and get pushed to a desk job?

Maybe what with budget woes and all, the Department failed to keep his windshield wipers or defroster up to par and he couldn't see?

No matter. Any of those, or a host of others, are just fine. As long as there is no alcohol, its "just" a tragic accident, something we all feel sorry for. Officer Joe is a good guy, he gets to keep his job, he doesn't go to jail, his family still gets to see him at the dinner table, and the wheels of justice will keep on grinding elsewhere. Our prayers are with the victim and her family. We'll keep building more high end houses and packing more cars onto Ojai Ave. for the morning commute. These pedestrians should just learn to watch out. Or better yet: Stop walking. Don't these people know this is southern California? Drive, don't walk. Or you get what's coming to you.

If they can't stop walking, maybe we'll just have to build a big wall on each side of Ojai Ave. to keep the pedestrians off the street. Then we could put pedestrian bridges overhead. Might cost a bit in the old taxes department, but sounds like even James Hatch is on board.

James Hatch said...

A pedestrian is not at fault for getting hit by a drunk driver in a crosswalk, just as a drunk driver is not necessarily at fault for hitting a dart out.

Anonymous, are you aware of any reports that establish coffee impairs reflexes, judgment and other faculties the way overconsumption of alcohol does?

The absurdities in these illogical links are mind boggling.

Anonymous said...

An officer hit a pedestrian today because the pedestrian stepped out in front of his unit.
Don't you think it's a little premature to be making such ludicrous statements when you don't even have the full story. The investigation hasn't even been completed....It JUST occurred, brainiac....

Anonymous said...

Regarding the pedestrian who stepped out in front of the patrol car: some people step out in front of trains, too, every year. Right here in Ventura County. It's called suicide.

Lenny Roberts said...

NOTE: This is not the place for comments on the injury accident involving the patrol car. Please post your comments here:

Julie Nelson said...

Does anyone know how Gretchen is doing? I am an old friend of hers from highschool now living in New Zealand and I am trying to find out the extent of her injuries and how she is recovering. Any info would be greatly appreciated. Cheers

Anonymous said...


Send an email to ovn2007@yahoo.com and I will put you in touch with Gretchen.

Anonymous said...

Bottom line; it's a dangerous world out there- Be aware! Getting in a car, or crossing the street!!

I can read and comprehend said...

I am not too sure just how this series of posts got grom the Avary incident to the pedestrian hit by cop incident BUT it never ceases to amaze me how people can rant on and on about stuff, spewing their opinions when they cleary do NOT know, or pay attention to, the facts. The blogger of 1/22, timed at 11:29 am mentions the cop incident as happening in broad daylight. PAY ATTENTION Mr/Ms. Know It All. It happened at 6:32 AM, that means IN THE MORNING, on a rainy, overcast day. IT WAS VIRTUALLY totally dark.

rich dahl said...

any news on the arraignment?

read somewhere Roger would be in court again today...

fwiw: he spoke @ my school a few times & was quite nice. this whole accident is tragic for all. sure he will never forget this for the rest of his life regardless alc.

God bless Zini's family & all. what a Loss.

fact: one drink impairs judgement.

Anonymous said...

I'm a friend of Andrea Zini. He was spending his honeymoon in LA, when he
was kissed in the car of Roger Avary, the famous screenwriter. I
am seeking justice for him. Roger Avary was driving too
fast, and on top he was drunk.
The trial started in January 2008 but has since now been postponed six
times for no reasons. How is this possible? Is this American justice? Why
does it have to be different for famous people?
Many people may agree that that "Roger Avery had a lot of talent". Andrea
Zini too. He was a successful engineer, an
unforgettable friend and a happy newlywed. I miss him every day and I'll do
all I can to get justice for him."

Anonymous said...

Is this ever going to come to trial?