Driver in Bobby Cann Case Hires High-Paid Celebrity Lawyer

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Ryne San Hamel

Ryne San Hamel, the driver accused of fatally striking bicyclist Bobby Cann while drunk and speeding, has retained attorney Sam Adam Jr., whose previous clients include ex-governor Rod Blagojevich and R&B star R. Kelly. Adam also served on the defense team for Carnell Fitzpatrick, the driver who intentionally ran over and killed Chicago cyclist Thomas McBride in 1999.

On the evening of May 29, 2013, Cann, 26, was biking from work when San Hamel, 28, struck him at the intersection of Clybourn and Larabee in Old Town. San Hamel was charged with reckless homicide, aggravated DUI, misdemeanor DUI, reckless driving, and failure to stay in the lane.

The Chicago Reader reported that San Hamel comes from a politically connected family from the affluent northwest suburb of Park Ridge. His father William was politically active in the 1970s and ‘80s, managing the successful campaign of Cook County assessor Thomas Tulley, as well as Ted Kennedy’s Illinois campaign in the 1980 presidential race.

In 1985, William San Hamel secured a low-interest loan and bond financing from the state of Illinois to launch the Center for Robotic Technology in Edison Park, the Reader reported. After the school defaulted on the loan, attorney Ron Neville defended him against a state lawsuit to recover the money. In the wake of allegations of insufficient training resources and skeleton staffing at the school, the Illinois Board of Education revoked its license.

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Image from the 2000 Cycle Messenger World Championships, which were dedicated to McBride’s memory.

Neville also served as Ryne San Hamel’s original lawyer in the Cann Case. Last weekend, the San Hamel family retained Sam Adam Jr. to represent him, Adam told me. He declined to comment on the case, citing the need for further research.

Adam was last in the news for representing former Governor Rod Blagojevich in his federal corruption trial, but he also has experience representing a driver accused of killing a cyclist. In the early 2000s, he assisted his father Sam Adam Sr. in defending Carnell Fitzpatrick.

On April 26, 1999, Fitzpatrick was driving an SUV on Washington Boulevard in the Austin neighborhood when he nearly collided with Thomas McBride, a bike messenger who was riding downtown to work. After words were exchanged, witnesses said the driver chased the cyclist, intentionally ran him over, and then fled the scene, dragging the bike.

As with the Cann case, many local cyclists attended hearings for the McBride case to show support for the victim’s family. In the end, the jury found Fitzpatrick guilty of first-degree murder. At the sentencing, Sam Adam Sr. told Judge Kenneth Wadas that the deadly crash was an accident, and that Fitzpatrick fled the scene because he panicked, the Tribune reported. Wadas sentenced Fitzpatrick to 45 years in prison.

The next hearing for the Cann case takes place on Thursday, October 30 at 10 a.m, in room 301 of the Cook County courthouse, 26th and California.

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