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Another Hit-and-Run in L.A.

10:30 AM PST on January 11, 2019

According to a press release, on Sunday, January 6, at 6;40 p.m., a 35-year-old Colombian tourist was crossing Lorena Street at Whittier Boulevard with her boyfriend when she was hit by someone driving a dark colored SUV.

The LAPD Central Traffic Division tweeted out surveillance video of the hit-and-run incident in the hopes of identifying the car and driver. It is graphic.

The couple had been walking west on the north side of Whittier when a driver in an eastbound SUV made a left turn onto Lorena, slamming into the woman.

It appears from the video that, after waiting for a westbound white car to clear the intersection, the driver of the SUV did not bother to ascertain that the car had not blocked their view of any pedestrians. Instead, they plowed into the woman and appear to have grazed or just barely missed her boyfriend. Astonishingly, they not only kept going as the woman rolled across the hood and front grill of the car, but sped up after depositing her on the side of the road. According to the press release, she was transported to LAC+USC Medical and suffered severe head injuries. She remains in critical condition.

Considering the amount of foot traffic that moves through the intersection at Whittier and Lorena, it is quite hostile to pedestrians. Although there is a (poorly maintained) zebra crosswalk, the intersection is wide and not particularly well lit at night.

More generally, as Whittier is an important connector between East L.A., Boyle Heights, and downtown (at least, it will be again after the 6th Street Viaduct is complete), it can be quite dangerous and sees heavy and fast-moving traffic, including a fair number of large trucks. In November of 2017, Whittier was also the scene of two horrific crashes, one that sent a parked car into a crowd at a taco stand, killing a young girl (at Marietta) and one involving a Sheriff's deputy rushing to a call that slammed into an SUV and sent it careening into five pedestrians, killing two boys (at Indiana).

The section of Whittier that runs through Boyle Heights is about to receive nearly $1 million in redevelopment funds to repair sidewalks, add street trees, and make other streetscape improvements.

The upgrades are long overdue, having been delayed, in great part, by the dissolution of the Community Redevelopment Agency in 2012. [The upgrades are also much smaller in scope than the total makeover the Urban Land Institute had envisioned for the boulevard back in 2010].

While the improvements might make walking along the sidewalk more pleasant, particularly along some of the isolated underpasses, the plans do not include any fixes that would better protect pedestrians or cyclists from cars. And Whittier does not appear to be one of the city's priority corridors for safety. The funds do, however, include money for grant-writing that would be aimed at securing funds that could be used to make Whittier safer for all commuters at some unspecified time in the future.

Unfortunately, that will come much too late for this couple.

If you have any information regarding this hit-and-run, please contact Central Traffic detectives at 213-833-3713, Detective Campos at 213-486-0755, or the Central Traffic Division Watch Commander at 213-486-3713. During non-business hours, call 877-527-3247, or leave an anonymous tip at 800-222-8477.

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