WESTWOOD—John Michael Maese, 25, was charged on Friday, February 14, with a DUI for his role in a hit-and-run crash that cost Obi Ndefo both of his legs. Maese faces felony counts of driving under the influence of an alcoholic beverage causing injury, driving with a .08 percent blood alcohol content causing injury and hit-and-run driving resulting in injury to another person. In addition, he is facing one misdemeanor count of driving when privilege suspended or revoked for a driving under the influence conviction.
A GoFundMe page was created by Ndefo’s mother that reads:
“On the evening of August 17th, while finishing shopping at Erewhon Natural Foods Market on Beverly Blvd. in Los Angeles, (after teaching his Saturday evening yoga class), Obi’s body was hit directly from behind by a swerving DUI driver moving over 40 MPH.
According to the first responders and orthopedic surgeons, it is an absolute miracle that Obi survived. By the grace of God, and because of the excellent condition his body was in due to his devotion to health, exercise, and nutrition, Obi is still alive, but both his legs had to be amputated, from just above the knees down. One leg was severed upon impact, the other was shattered, rapidly losing blood, and had to be removed as well (in order to save his life).
The incredible Emergency crew and Surgeons were continually amazed by Obi’s lucidity throughout the event, from 45 seconds after the moment of impact, through the two major surgeries, and through the odyssey within the hospital (which has felt like much longer than a few short weeks). Obi pulled from deep within his soul, to not only stay alive, opting for natural foods, breathing, and early exercise of his upper body, miraculously untouched (pelvis, spine, head, and all else – barely a scratch), but to rise emotionally and spiritually to be an inspiration to everyone within the hospital. Even through the surgeries, Obi managed to smile and share positivity with everyone with whom he came in contact.
As a side note, the hit-and-run driver was subsequently found by LAPD the following day, and arrested for DUI (of drugs and/or alcohol).
What we have witnessed is an Obi Ndefo who is determined to take this life-altering event and transform it into a pathway to full expression – as a human being, as a writer and actor, and as a yoga teacher.
The Surgeon team has identified Obi as an excellent candidate for a new mode of prosthetic legs, which will be integrative with Obi’s (as you may know) active spirit and life as a performer, writer, and movement teacher.
We are pulling together to raise funds to not only keep Obi Ndefo fully alive and functioning, but to help him soar with his dreams of uplifting the planet through the arts and through health education.
If you are able, please donate to Obi’s Go Fund Me to cover costs for new prosthetic legs, surgery and hospital costs not covered by insurance, and making his home wheelchair accessible. We are seeking $268,000 to support Obi’s survival and urgent medical transition to this new chapter of his life.
Obi sends everyone his love from the depths of his heart, and is exceedingly positive and optimistic about his determination to allow his body and soul to be a vehicle for good on the planet. Blessings to all,- Susan Matranga (Obi Ndefo’s mom) and Obi.”
Deputy District Attorney Jacqueline Haidar stated that the charges against Maese include an allegation that he personally inflicted great bodily injury upon the victim. The defendant allegedly struck the victim as he stood behind his parked car.
He reportedly fled the scene following the crash. The arraignment was scheduled in Department 30 of the Foltz Criminal Justice Center. If convicted as charged, the defendant faces a possible maximum sentence of more than seven years in state prison.
The case remains under investigation by the Los Angeles Police Department, West Traffic Division.