Crossing without a Light

Yesterday I asked the gentle readers of this blog for some help and they responded. It was sad news that three pedestrians were struck on Santa Monica Blvd. between Gower and Bronson (from what I witnessed of the street closure, I’m guessing it was at about Tamarind and Santa Monica.).

Eliza provided this information from the wire services:

A 10-year-old girl died at a hospital today after being struck by a car as she and a friend tried to cross a Hollywood street, a police officer said. Her companion, a 9-year-old girl, remained in critical condition, Officer Ursula Guillory said. Guillory said the driver was being held for manslaughter. Paramedics were called to the scene in the 5800 block of Santa Monica Boulevard about 7:45 a.m., said Brian Humphrey of the Los Angeles Fire Department. A third person suffered minor injuries, Humphrey said.

Sadly, she’s not the first person to be hurt on this stretch of street and unless something is done, she won’t be the last.


click for 225K image

Those of you who drive Santa Monica Blvd. regularly know full well that there are no crosswalks, signals or even full two way intersections between Van Ness and Gower – a stretch of road that is .37 miles long. In the middle of that stretch is a strip mall that contains (among other things) an Autozone, Lucy’s Laundromat, a bakery and what I think is a WIC office or clinic. Add to that the Santa Monica Blvd. Community Charter School on the corner of Santa Monica and Van Ness. But you probably also know that there are people dashing across the street there all the time.

The only change I saw this morning was that eastbound traffic had a speed alert machine that reminded drivers that the speed limit is 35 MPH and showed their current speed.

What this stretch of road needs is a true crosswalk. For years that has been a pedestrian sign that flashes – but it is not a true crosswalk (the sign is merely a guy walking – a rather vague notification that there may be people somewhere in the street). It’s not fair to pedestrians to have to walk a full third of a mile to get to something that is only a scant 50 feet in front of them. Would you go so far out of your way in the rain with your child in a stroller? Most people don’t, I see them day after day – running across the street or standing the center lane waiting for traffic to clear.

Thanks to Will pointing out the ever-so-helpful terraserver, I’ve made up a little map. (Okay, it’s a BIG map if you click on it.) It clearly shows that there is a huge expanse of road with no safe intersection for pedestrians to cross. What I’d really like, and maybe some of you have seen these, are “in pavement crosswalk warning lights” so not only is there a painted crosswalk on the pavement and signs, but also pedestrian activated lights that blink on the street to alert drivers that someone is in the crosswalk (because the street is two lanes each way with a middle lane, sometimes it can be hard to see around larger SUVs to see that they’re yielding to a pedestrian or a car trying to turn left).

As near as I can figure, the way to get something done is to contact the city. I went on the ever-friendly lacity.org and did a “my neighborhood” search. So, I’m going to write a letter to the Hollywood-Wilshire Transportation District Office. I hope if you have a few moments to dash something off, you’ll join me:

Hollywood-Wilshire Transportation District Office
7551 Sunset Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90046
Contact: Brian Gallagher

Perhaps one of our city council friends can provide an email contact for us.

9 Replies to “Crossing without a Light”

  1. Since there seemed to be a lot of interest yesterday, here’s some wire copy from today that elaborated more on the story:

    An 8-year-old girl who died in a traffic collision after she was hit by a car on Santa Monica Boulevard was identified today, and the driver was arrested for suspicion of manslaughter, according to police.
    The accident occurred at Santa Monica Boulevard and Tamarind Avenue at 7:45 a.m. yesterday as a woman, Maria Gonzales, 48, her 9-year-old daughter, and Seily Rodriguez, an 8-year-old neighbor’s daughter, were hit by a car driven by Viviana Galaviz, 32, police said.
    The woman and the two girls began to cross Santa Monica going south when the driver of a white panel van pulled into the intersection from Tamarind Avenue, police said.
    The van driver had intended to turn left to head east on Santa Monica Boulevard, but stopped to wave the woman and two girls through.
    When they reached the eastbound lanes of Santa Monica Boulevard, they were struck by a 2000 Saturn sedan driven by Galaviz, police said.
    Gonzalez and her daughter were treated for abrasions. Seily Rodriguez died from her injuries, police said. It was discovered that Galaviz was driving with a suspended driver’s license, police said. She was booked for suspicion of felony manslaughter. Anyone with more information about the collision was asked to call (213) 473-0234 or (877) 529-3855 nights or weekends.

    What I don’t understand is why is it felony manslaughter? The driver wasn’t under the influence, she didn’t intend to run them over, and she stopped/didn’t flee the scene. So her license was suspended…does that alone mean you get such a heavier charge? Seems like just a tragic accident, but felony manslaughter?

  2. I agree Eliza that the charge seems extreme. I found the code though that specifies that killing someone when you have an expired license is felony manslaughter. http://www.dmv.ca.gov/pubs/vctop/d06/vc14601_4.htm

    Of course we don’t know why her license was suspended in the first place. Suspensions can be made for rather benign reasons like lack of insurance or non-appearance for a traffic violation – or for more serious infractions like drunk driving or reckless driving (or a previous injury accident).

    I hope, Eliza, if you are able to follow the case that you’re able to keep us updated. Thanks for sharing the info.

  3. I was a juror on this case. It took us a
    great deal of time to come to a “not guilty” verdict. We were not told she had a suspended license…the evidence just did not support a guilty verdict. As much as we feel for the family of Seily, and if you know them…PLEASE tell them the whole jury agonized and prayed over this…I still don’t know the whole story of Miss Galaviz…but she seems terribly sad…that did not affect our jury decision though…the prosecution never told us what we needed to know…God Bless Seily and her family…All of our hearts were with them…Y’know…we never even got to see a picture of Seily…she will always be in my heart and prayers. Do you know how to find the family…?

  4. something happened at the EXACT same spot today. i am not sure but i think it was another accident like in january — it was the same drill at 8:15 this morning. i didn’t see a body, but it was the exact same thing as last time — traffic diverted, area taped off, etc.

  5. Thanks for that heads up, ispy. I have a few calls out for additional info, but I’ve not seen anything yes. I’m planning to put up a post later today.

    I did talk to Josh Kamensky in Eric Garcetti’s office about this issue a few weeks ago. The big problem with Santa Monica Blvd. is that it’s a State Route (2) – so if the city wants to do anything like add a cross walk, it has to get state approval. They appear to be just as frustrated and disheartened as the folks in the neighborhood are.

    My grand hope is that the new school there will have to put in a crosswalk and hopefully a crossing guard and better signs to make that stretch safer.

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