Family of Slain USC Student: Fix L.A. Intersections!

4_9_09_bachan.jpgCarmen Bachan speaks to the press before her daughter’s funeral.  Image:

Last weekend, the lives of a family were changed forever, when a distracted driver decided that shaving a couple of seconds of off the trip home for his family was more important than making sure he protected other users of the road.  He plowed through the intersection of Jefferson and Hoover, killing USC freshman Adriana Bachan and maiming her companion.

Bachan’s family has not been camera-shy in demanding that their daughter’s murderer be brought to justice, the alleged driver of the vehicle has been brought in but her passenger who helped remove bodies from the car before it sped off is still at large; but now they’re setting their sights on a different target: improving the deadly intersection where Adriana was killed.  The Santa Barbara news website Noozhawk has the story:

Welch also spoke for Bachan’s father.

“Jim will be back, and he will be the biggest advocate for that intersection at Jefferson and Hoover,” he said.

The intersection where Bachan was killed is notoriously treacherous for
pedestrians, and her mother said she’s on a mission to see that the
area’s safety is improved. She said she’d like to see a pedestrian
bridge constructed.

“You’ve all been there and you’ve seen the children crossing and the
cars almost hitting them,” she said. “Somebody will do something, that
I can assure you.”

Keeping the intersection foremost in the public’s memory is
paramount for Carmen Bachan, and she thanked the media for covering the

“Keep my baby’s story alive,” she said. “Don’t let it go away.”

While it’s more than inspiring to see a family try and turn a tragedy into something positive, it’s also a sad statement that the only time people focus on the deadly conditions pedestrians face is when someone dies and their survivors demand it.

  • Justin Walker

    Again, in intersection design, there are several ways to accommodate pedestrian traffic. Each of the designs involves a trade-off between total capacity and safety. The intersection at Jefferson and Hoover is already as safe as an intersection can possibly be, at the expense of a great amount of capacity. With a pedestrian scramble phase that was installed just last year, the intersection has a phase where the intersection is occupied ONLY by pedestrians.

    Unlike standard intersections, where parallel vehicular traffic is allowed to proceed with pedestrians, this is forbidden at this intersection. Conversely, when a vehicular phase is taking place, parallel pedestrian movements are forbidden. This eliminates the competition between pedestrians and turning motorists, one of the largest causes of pedestrian accidents.

    I use Jefferson/Hoover frequently and it offers maximum protection for pedestrians. And as LADOT pointed out, this accident was caused by a motorist running a red light at high speed. There’s simply no way to guard against negligence of that magnitude.

  • Roger Anderson

    Justin makes a good point in his comment above, regarding the “scramble” cross-walk, and how it seeks to separate the vehicular phase from the pedestrian phase at that intersection. But it is NOT the case that “the competition between pedestrians and turning motorists [is eliminated].” In fact, cars are still allowed to turn right on a red-light at that intersection, and to thereby proceed through the intersection (and right across the crosswalks) even when it is in a pedestrian phase. As Justin notes, this is one of the largest causes of pedestrian accidents – and it has still not been adequately addressed at this intersection. I walk through this intersection daily, and because it is so crowded with traffic, both vehicular and pedestrian, it is a big bottleneck in the flow of traffic, and drivers are therefore extremely tempted to try to squeeze through the right-turn-on-red even when pedestrians are in the crosswalk, if the driver feels that he/she can make it through a gap in pedestrians, or can make it through before pedestrians in the crosswalk make it across to that side of the street. Throw in a bunch of bicyclists whizzing through the crosswalk at the same time and this “scramble” starts to look like a big – and very dangerous – mess. We need a dedicated police presence at this intersection, strictly enforcing the law that drivers not enter a crosswalk with pedestrians in it, and that bicyclists walk their bikes when using a crosswalk. I pass through this intersection four times a day for almost twenty years, and I have NEVER seen anyone ticketed here, in spite of the multiple infractions taking place during each and every cycle of the traffic lights.

  • “Conversely, when a vehicular phase is taking place, parallel pedestrian movements are forbidden”

    Thats a terrible idea. When a pedestrian sees a green light, they dont care what the red hand says. Theres no reason they shouldnt be crossing. Cars turning right should always have to wait.

    In Boston, some intersections show red hands early to allow cars to turn. People stop, see the green light, say “wtf” and walk.
    The result: The red hands are ignored all the time!

    Blocking parallel pedestrian movements is vehicle engineering and it hurts the entire system.

  • Bob

    I’m not saying this is the case, but too many pedestrians when they have the right-of-way to cross a street at signalize intersections and at marked and unmarked crosswalks don’t even look to see if it is even safe to cross.

    Nothing is 100% safe, even though we try. In order to improve mobility, we have committed many billions of dollars, only to find out that this will only cover a fraction what is required today to fix all our problems.

    When we try to solve some problems, then we have the problem of Big Brother Watching or we over react and have let Big Brother start taking away our freedom with bogus statements.

    When we try to solve one problem, most of the time we create other problems.

  • Kevin

    Fault is always going to be with the driver. Driving a car is a big responsibility, one that we give away to far too many people in this country.
    How they haven’t found the passenger boggles my mind. Ms. Cabrera is going to burn at the stake for this one.

  • FixHighways

    This is why personal accountability is so important.

    Driving is a PRIVILAGE not a right and when Speed-hungry motorists stop making excuses for their lack of accountability. It starts by better enforcement and tougher penalties.

    Lack of not paying attention to one’s surroundings will make yourself extinct or in deep, deep poop.

  • Spokker

    “Lack of not paying attention to one’s surroundings will make yourself extinct”

    And this goes for pedestrians as well.

  • LA Walker

    As much as we grieve with the mother, the intersection is not at fault.

    We have a city policy that encourages third-world driving standards: no license, no insurance, DUI as you please.

    We allow a million illegal aliens to dwell and drive here with no enforcement whatsoever. Yet, when one of them kills while DUI, the local media never bothers to ask how they obtained a new car, registered with financing.

    Until we have a city attorney who follows the rules himself, and a police chief that will actually enforce the laws on the books, and so long as we as a society fail to take DUI seriously (impound and sell the car, guaranteed jail time, loss of license, publication of offender data), we will continue to lose lives on the street.

    The intersection is not at fault.

    Nice try.

  • LA Walker, you really think this is about if someone was born in the US or not.

    In the US in 1982 there were 26,000 (california 2799) deaths owing to alcohol
    In the US in 2005 there were 16,000 (california 1509) deaths owing to alcohol

    There seems to be something wrong with LA culture. California has consistently been number one or very near the top for the last 25 years in drunk driving. And I’m thinking 25 years ago immigration wasn’t an issue. And people were still dying, looking at the above statistics seems like more people where dying, so who would you like to blame that on?

    This is a city with horrid public transit (very horrid if you look at your options for afterhours,) spread out all over the place.

    We have a driving culture that takes precedent over everything else. You can’t even get a job in this town if a person knows you don’t have a car. Everyone is pretty much forced to get a car. And I say that is a believer in alt transit and a person who cares very deeply for environment and refused to get a car owing to that, but you know I see it’s really hard to not have a car here. That’s why the majority of the people on this electronic forum have access to one, because they have to.

    We also have a stupid zero tolerance policy where everyone gets this bright idea that we can stop people from drinking, we obviously can’t stop people from drinking, maybe what we should do instead of thinking of new creative ways to punish people is make it so people can drink and not kill people.

    Maybe if we didn’t have this throw the book at people culture maybe people wouldn’t feel the need to leave the scene when they kill someone. Maybe if we were a little bit more understanding people wouldn’t have to drink with their three year old in the car. This is harsh and unforgiving city.

    Possibly we could start with some kind of alt transit laws, something like mandated afterhour bus service near bars might be a start.

    Every time something bad happens why do people in LA always have to show their behinds? This is a tragedy, but no need to get all racist and vile this is not helping.


  • FixHighways

    Or better taxi cab service at these night spots. Open up this for-profit business opportunity for the clubs/bars and taxi cabs.

  • We need to end this silliness that prohibits taxicabs from picking up hailed fares.


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