A driver hit a bicyclist from behind and then stabbed him to death in broad daylight in Orange County, California, before onlookers held the assailant until police arrived and arrested him on murder charges, authorities said.
Dr. Michael Mammone, 58, was riding on Pacific Coast Highway in Dana Point when he was hit by a white Lexus driven by Vanroy Evan Smith, 39, on Wednesday at 3 p.m., the Orange County Sheriff’s Department reported. The beach community where the incident happened is about 60 miles south of downtown Los Angeles.
Prosecutors said that as the victim lay injured in the street, Smith repeatedly stabbed him before being detained by bystanders who rushed to help the injured cyclist.
“An innocent man is dead because he took a bike ride to enjoy a beautiful California day along the beach and he was hit with a car and stabbed to death by someone he apparently never met,” said Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer in a statement. “The murder of a complete stranger in broad daylight for what appears to be absolutely no reason is the stuff of nightmares. This unspeakable act of violence will forever haunt those who were forced to witness it and it will forever haunt all of those who loved Dr. Mammone.”
Smith was arrested and charged with murder. He also faces a sentencing enhancement for the personal use of a deadly weapon, a knife recovered at the scene of the crime, officials said. He pleaded not guilty Friday and was held at the Orange County Jail in lieu of $1 million bail. He’s set for another court hearing on Feb. 14.
Authorities said there was no known connection between the suspect and the victim and officials said they didn’t know why the attack occurred.
The death of Mammone, an emergency room doctor at Providence Mission Hospital, hit his colleagues hard.
“We are stunned by this devastating tragedy,” said spokeswoman Carrie Miller. “The entire Mission Hospital family is grieving over the loss of an incredible physician and friend. We will honor Dr. Mammone’s dedication to our community and passion for medicine by continuing to provide exceptional care.”
Dr. Dawn Atwal, a colleague at the Laguna hospital where Mammone worked, told KTLA that she was in shock. She had just seen him in the cafeteria a few days prior.
“It’s like a family member you lost,” she said.
She pointed out the irony of an ER doctor dying at a hospital.
If someone had been in a similar situation, “he would have done everything he could to save that person,” she said.
Have a tip we should know? [email protected]