Why Is the Press Giving LAPD a Pass on Adhami Crash?

Last Friday, the Daily Breeze released the terrifying details of Yousef Adhami’s driving record, including details of the four license suspensions and high-speed-chase he led police on in 2008. That such a man is allowed to drive at all, much less drive professionally and own an impounding service, remains a sure sign that America and California don’t take vehicular safety all that seriously.

Adhami was driving a tow truck at twice the legal speed on Wedneday morning when he struck a Metro bus. Following a spectacular crash that included a clipped fire hydrant and s smashed 7-11, and his driving killed Metro bus driver, Olivia Gamboa.

The press has focused on the crash, the hero (the slain Gamboa) and villain (the deadly Adhami) and has been unambiguous in its coverage. However, a series of key questions have remained unanswered that will tell just how culpable the city and society itself are in this tragedy.

First, did the LAPD have a relationship with Adhami’s Hermosa Beach Towing?

Under Los Angeles Municipal Code, tow truck drivers needed to inform the LAPD after making tows under certain circumstances, including all tows that occur on private property. If Adhami was following this part of the law, and to be fair there is no reason to believe he was, then the LAPD knew the company existed, and accepted their were tows being made by the company without knowing it was unlicensed.

To complete tows for the city, drivers need to have a special pass issued by LAPD. Did Adhami have one? If so, what does LAPD do to insure that pass holders continue to have current licenses? What changes will be made as a result of this crash?

Second, where was Adhami going/coming?

Given his history of making bomb threats in 2008, I would have to believe that the planned start and end point of Adhami’s fatal trip has to be a concern for the LAPD.

After fleeing from the Pennsylvania State Police into Ohio, where he was cornered, Adhami decided the best course of action was to claim he had a bomb strapped to his chest. He didn’t. I bring up the incident as more evidence that the tow truck driver was a known loose canon, a criminally negligent driver, and operating an unlicensed towing business in Hermosa Beach.

All of this is public information, yet he was still in business.

We know Adhami’s deadly driving took him for a twice-the-speed-limit drive through Downtown Los Angeles on Wednesday morning. But there’s another question, is Adhami a “bandit tow truck driver” or was he working a regular route? If it’s the latter, will the LAPD identify what company had a contract with the deadly driver and his illegal business?

The man was a known dangerous driver operating without tow license. He had to have business partners. What effort is being made to track these people down and hld then partially responsible for last week’s tragedy?

And even worse…

Going back to the first question and combining it with the second, was that business partner the LAPD?

And if it was, will this lead to new laws and oversight, or will this incident be swept under the rug until the next time an unlicensed tow driver kills someone?

What Next for the “Bandit” Tow Truck Industry

Sadly, local authority over illegally operating drivers is actually not absolute, thanks in major part to a 1995 federal law deregulating the industry. But that doesn’t mean that nothing can be done. However, courts have ruled that regulations can be put in place for safety’s sake. Given the circumstances of this case, it might be a good time for the City of Los Angeles to re-examine its regulations.

And, of course, if the LAPD did have a relationship with Adhami’s Hermosa Beach Towing, it goes without saying that the city can regulate what businesses it does business with without violating state law.

In our first story on the crash, Streetsblog charged that a society that doesn’t take traffic safety seriously is partially at fault in the Adhami killing of Metro driver Gamboa. However, as more details about Adhami come to light, an unregulated tow industry seems to be partially to blame as well. Assuming that federal law doesn’t change, it’s still imperative for the city and state to insure that drivers of these large trucks are licnesed and permitted.

At the least, they need to be able to assure residents that they aren’t receiving our tax dollars.


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