When a female (who may or may not have been walking her bicycle) was hit and killed by a bus on Slauson in South L.A. last month, I got a few phone calls from friends in the area.
“Was it you?”
“No,” I reassured them. “I’m still here.”
I was surprised they had heard about it. But perhaps I shouldn’t have been. It feels like more mainstream attention is being given to incidents on the road that result in the death or serious injury of pedestrians and cyclists of late, and it actually feels like people are paying attention. Or, at least starting to see these preventable tragedies — particularly hit-and-runs — as a problem.
It has been incredibly heartening, for example, to see KTLA take an interest in ghost bikes (and the work of the activists who put up the memorials) and show up yesterday to cover the Ride for Justice for Andy Garcia. Garcia was the young man killed in a hit-and-run last September when an intoxicated 21-year-old named Wendy Villegas slammed into him and dragged his bike under her car several hundred feet up the Cesar Chavez bridge.
KTLA met the riders at the starting point in Bell Gardens, interviewed Garcia’s mother, Carmen Tellez, who was riding with the group, and then stayed to cover the hearing.
Their presence was also an opportunity, notes Tellez, for her to educate the reporters about just how many cyclists are regularly killed on the road, something she felt they are still only just beginning to understand.
But, for all the attention to and education around the problem, the carnage continues.
Just last night, a 19-year-old man was killed in a horrific hit-and-run in Watts.
Jerry Arredondo had stopped by a friend’s place on 105th and was crossing the otherwise quiet street when a (possibly drunk) driver came screaming down the block at between 80 and 100 mph, hit a dip in the road, went airborne, and slammed into him, apparently launching Arredondo 20 ft. into the air and 40 ft. forward. The car then continued on down the street, smashing into seven other parked cars, finally stopping after losing a wheel.
The driver then got out of the destroyed rental car and into a BMW, apparently driven by an acquaintance who thought it prudent to help the first driver get away from the mayhem he had just created.
A search is currently underway for both drivers.
Even when drivers are found, the wheels of justice turn very slowly, as Garcia’s family can attest. Read more…