Authorities are searching for the driver of a dark-colored, older model Lexus that ran down 50-year old Tracy Louis Walker this past Wednesday. He was struck at 3:25 p.m. while crossing in the crosswalk at Western and Vernon by a vehicle traveling north along Western. Walker sustained life-threatening injuries from the impact and was taken to the hospital where he later died.
The driver fled the scene and apparently no description is available. Nor is it clear if the driver ran a red light or Walker was crossing against the light. A call to the LAPD for more information about the incident yielded no further insight. The detective in charge of the case is out of the office until Monday.
The crosswalks at Western and Vernon are among the 50 slated to be zebra-striped in the coming months.
While the striping effort is laudable (although a source of debate among our audience), it is not clear that stripes would have been helpful in this case, either to slow down someone determined to run a red light or to keep a pedestrian from crossing against the light.
The zebra-striping might be more useful as a traffic-calming measure at non-intersection crossings along Western. Because of the number of streets that “T” into Western, there are few sanctioned places to cross safely and few excuses for drivers to slow down. Along some stretches, pedestrians may have to travel several blocks along one side of the street just to find a safe crossing so they can head several blocks back up the other side. For elderly or disabled pedestrians (or the just plain impatient), this can cause some hardship. So, they try their luck at venturing across the busy street, hoping that people will see them and stop. That is rarely a good strategy and can have fatal results, as seen in the still-unsolved case of 78-year old Jimmie Thomas, who was run down while attempting to cross Western near 55th St. earlier this year.
Anyone with information in either case is encouraged to the South Traffic Division, Detective Section at 323 421-2500.