Student killed in Highland Park collision; victim identified [updated @ 4:51 pm]

figueroa map

HIGHLAND PARK — A 17-year-old high school student was killed this morning after he was struck by a vehicle on Figueroa Street near Avenue 60, The victim was the third person killed this year by a motor vehicle on the busy thoroughfare.

The driver remained on the scene following the collision at about 7:30 a.m. but no further information was available. “We are still piecing it together,” Felix Padilla, a detective with the LAPD Central Traffic Division.

The victim was a senior at Los Angeles International Charter High School in Hermon, according to a person at the school. “He was in his school uniform when he was struck and killed.  He was a well-liked and active senior.”

The school was also closed today following threats issued against L.A. Unified campuses.  School officials told L.A. Now that the student was headed to school after getting off a Gold Line train. The 17-year-old student had been accepted to a film program at Cal State L.A.

News reports said that the teen was struck by a city service truck, but Padilla said that “it may too premature to confirm that the City-owned tractor/trailer was involved.”

Today’s fatal collision comes three months after a woman was killed by a hit-and-run driver on Figueroa and Avenue 55. In June, a cyclist was fatally struck by a vehicle that sped away from the crash scene with victim on the hood of the car for about 200 yards.

Update @ 4:51 pm: The victim has been identified as Andres Perez of Montebello, reports L.A. Now.

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  1. Since Gil Cedillo killed the road diet in June of 2014 four people have been killed by car drivers on North Figueroa Street.

    LA schools are closed today due to a threat of terrorism phoned in to a school board member, but the real threat to our lives on daily basis is unsafe street design. Figueroa is designed for cars to speed between lights and to treat our streets like a race track wherever possible.

    So sad and disgusted right now. I ride by this intersection nearly every morning on my bike taking my own kid to school or heading back from dropping my kid off.

    • Oh come on! Enough already with the bikers vs car drivers argument, I’m sick of the same rhetoric, back and forth. Fact is that accidents happen, road diet or not, bike lanes or not, you can’t just blame those four fatalities on not having a road diet. It’s people like you who only want their way and no compromises that turn people off, one way or the other.

      • I have made no mention of bicycles in my comment above.

        Road diet are a proven, effective, inexpensive street design that can significantly reduce crash rates and cause minimal impacts to average travel times.

        The Federal Highway Administration has said as much:

        • ” I ride by this intersection nearly every morning on my bike” this statement tells me you’re a biker, “four people have been killed by car drivers” this statement tells me you blame cars. No you didn’t mention it directly, but it’s implied.

          • I also drive past this intersection all the time and I also ride the train just past this intersection all the time.

            If you’re trying to make an ad hominem attack you need to do better.

        • No mention?

          “I ride by this intersection nearly every morning on my bike taking my own kid to school or heading back from dropping my kid off.”

          If you say so.

      • Don’t see any mention of Bikes vs. Cars in the original post . Just a mention that a road diet and other traffic calming measures could’ve saved a life. It’s proven that reducing the speeds of motor vehicles also decreases the fatality rate for pedestrians in collisions.

      • This is not an accident. It is a collision that can be prevented and addressed through better design. It is preventable… that you aren’t willing to consider or comfortable with certain solutions because of their perceived impact on your commute is another story entirely. As was pointed out road diets are shown to have significant benefits, particularly for vehicle/vehicle collisions, so actually from a safety perspective motorists stand to gain quite a bit. Speeding may be more important to you than safety, and as someone who lives and regularly drives and walks in the neighborhood I support these changes for everyone’s benefit. You made this into a bike/care issue and it is not.

        • I know right? Most people I know are heartbroken about all the recent gun violence in this country, and yet a comparable amount of people are killed every year in traffic collisions, and most people just shrug and call it an accident. I just don’t get it.

      • I think anyone expressing an opinion about bike lanes should do some riding around first. There’s no other way to experience what a bicyclist goes through on the streets of L.A. York and Colorado feel much safer now with bike lanes, and Spring Street downtown is drastically better. It’s not just creating a visible safe zone for bicyclists. The traffic slows down to a reasonable speed. Drivers become aware that they’re not on the freeway anymore. They’re sharing the space with vulnerable fellow human beings.

        On my morning bike ride down Figueroa this morning, it was business as usual: SUVs roaring past at 60 mph. It’s terrible for everyone: bicyclists, pedestrians, homes and businesses along the street, and other drivers. It’s basically madness that we’ve all gotten used to. Are we going to reverse L.A.’s asphyxiation by auto? We need to make it less dangerous to get out of our cars, and more pleasant and viable to move by other means. Maybe getting rid of Cedillo is a good first step.

        • Why do you choose to ride down Figueroa? Wouldn’t be safer to ride down the less busy Monte Vista?

          • Why do you choose to drive down Figueroa? Wouldn’t it be faster to drive down the 110?

          • Hey Ray, I don’t, I do take the 110. That did little to answer why some cyclists insist in taking busy dangerous main streets vs. safer side streets.

          • @Alfred: Because pedestrians and cyclists are trying to access the same shops and institutions as motorists. It’s a main street, it should be safe and convenient for everyone in the community.

            Motorists just passing through in a hurry have their own private route (the 110) with no traffic signals or other modes of travel to contend with. Win win.

          • Al, I personally take the gold line to Highland Park because Figueroa Street is too scary. I’d like to ride my bike on Fig because lugging my bike on a train is a pain and I like to spend my money in my local community. I’ve tried taking side streets and the Arroyo Seco bike path, but it adds too much time to the commute and it gets confusing to navigate through streets and paths that don’t connect or have massive hills. Fig is the most direct route and is relatively flat. Data from Strava shows that people on bikes take Fig because it connects to the L.A. River and York Blvd.


            I hope that answers your question.

    • It’s not exactly clear why you are jumping to conclusions without knowing all the facts. Last night, 2 different people ran across York 50 feet west of the crosswalk at York & Fig. Why? Because they decided to not use the crosswalk at the intersection. One person was in dark clothes and if I hadn’t braked hard, he would have been hit. Based on your strong sentiments and fuzzy logic, the fault would have been mine and/or Gil Cedillo’s.

      • Bike Lane Enthusiast

        Advocating for a wholesale slaughter of non-car drivers is your true motive. You and your minions target pedestrians and bike riders for your own perverse pleasures.

      • “Based on your faulty logic” – I said nothing about your anecdote nor personal experience.

        Why were you able to slow down in time for those pedestrians? The crash rate on York has dropped by between 25 and 38% due to a reduction in speeding between red lights by motorists due to a road diet.

        The road diet on Figueroa would have reduced the chance of this type of thing happening.

        It is evidence based transportation safety. The NHTSA has written repeatedly about the value of properly implemented road diets.

        Your personal experience is not in question here.

    • Figueroa needs more traffic lights. Between Cypress Ave and Pasadena Ave there is maybe one light that is very short. There should be a light at every intersection. I think this is the only major street I have seen with so few lights. Have you ever driven on Fair Oaks Blvd? Lots of traffic lights, more police presence also. People use Figueroa as a mini highway. I get passed by large delivery trucks and even buses. Slow down people!

  2. Bike Lane Enthusiast

    The real threat continues to be the non-bike riders, the drivers of deadly automobiles, and the non-athletic elderly, obese, infirm, and disabled. The way to keep them from killing the genetically superior bike riders is to isolate them in safe zones and make sure their ability to run down our people is eliminated. There are humane housing and relocation plans out there.

    • Maybe we should just round up all the infirm, obese, elderly street crossers, and put them in a concentration camp. Will that please you and your ” genetically superior bike riders”?

      Are by any chance related to Heinrich Himmler?

      • My elderly relatives and my young family members are trapped by an autocentric street system – unable to safely cross the street, unable to safely ride a bike, unable to use the bus and not get stuck behind private motorists.

        The system you love is what imprisons them.

    • But I thought the greater good would result from rounding up any and all men caught riding bicycles, as if though they were children, and placing them in rehabilitation camps. A place where they’d learn, grow, and evolve into men with real lives. “Adults” if you will. Maybe even get a real job and at some point, an automobile. So they can drive to said job. No more part-timey work at the local coffee shop. Maybe even have children, something real men do, because they have sex with real women. Something a man-child who rides a bicycle knows nothing about.

  3. Maybe we should just round up the elderly, infirm and obese, and put them in a concentration camp. Then your ” genetically superior” bike riders. Are you by any chance related to Himmler?

    • My elderly relatives and my young family members are trapped by an autocentric street system – unable to safely cross the street, unable to safely ride a bike, unable to use the bus and not get stuck behind private motorists.

      The system you love is what imprisons them.

  4. A vigil is planned for this Friday evening at Avenue 60 and North Figueroa.

    • Why a vigil? Did you know the victim? What is your agenda? Ok, we all know it!

      • My agenda: I want safe streets; I want bike lanes, crosswalks, slower car speeds between red lights.

        Why a vigil? Because we need to come together and recognize that a life was lost, that there are steps we can take as a community to prevent this type of death in the future. We also need to send a message to the one person who has personally ensured that this street will continue to take lives: Gil Cedillo.

        I hope that answer your questions.

        • Or is it because you want more people in your store? I have nothing against bike lanes, I own 2 bikes myself and ride on York often. Figueroa is a whole different story, reducing it to one lane will definitely not work. Beside, it’s been like that for how many years? Whether you want it or not, we live in a big city and traffic is only going to get worse because our politicians are doing nothing to offer more mass transits.

          • Like most small business owners in NELA, I have a very personal stake in having the streets be safe. I walk, ride my bike, ride the train, skate, scoot, and drive on these same streets. The noise, pollution, and unnecessary danger of North Figueroa Street bothers me on a human level. I have been working on this issue since 2009 along with other neighbors.

            I would love to have more business in my store, but bike lanes and a road diet don’t guarantee me anything. All the time spent working on this issue takes away from my productive work hours and my family life – like a lot of people who volunteer in this community.

            Many big cities have made changes to the way their streets are designed and have seen negligible effects on traffic congestion and big improvements in safety.

            Again – m agenda: I want safe streets; I want bike lanes, crosswalks, slower car speeds between red lights.

          • Nobody likes you, Josef.

      • What the hell is wrong with you?

  5. It isn’t the street that kills pedestrians or bicyclists, it’s the decisions of the drivers to not follow the rules of the laws that are in place to protect the safety of EVERYONE. The same thing applies to pedestrians or bicyclists that insist on not following the laws that are already on the books.

    • You know, there’s a saying in design: “the user is always right”.

      If the majority of motorists speed to the point where you have to put up digital signs that say “Slow Down”, or setup traffic stings every few months, I think it’s pretty safe to say you did a poor job engineering the street.

  6. While campaigning for city council, Gil Cedillo said he supported plans for making N. Figueroa safer by installing features including improved crosswalks and bike lanes. After taking office, Cedillo held community meetings on the issue before announcing on July 10, 2014 that he was deferring implementation until he could “ensure all who travel along this corridor would be safe.” Since then, 4 people – THREE pedestrians and a bicyclist – have been killed in traffic by speeding vehicles on N. Figueroa where the Dept. of Transportation had already planned to install bike lanes and high visibility crosswalks.

    There is already money set aside for these safety improvements,which have been planned and designed. If installed, the new crosswalks and bike lanes would make the neighborhood safer for everyone, including those walking, biking and driving. These are the kind of improvements a local group known as “Figueroa for All” (Fig4All) has been requesting since Gil Cedillo took office representing Council District 1 (which includes Highland Park, Cypress Park, Glassell Park, and Lincoln Heights). The goal of Figueroa for All is to help create a safe and vibrant North Figueroa Street that better serves the needs of residents and businesses alike.

    We deserve a safer street. No more preventable tragedies. Please take a moment to remember the lives lost on N. Figueroa.

    July 22, 2014 – William Matelyan, age 84. Struck by a car while walking across N. Figueroa at Avenue 26, died later that day.

    June 26, 2015 – Jose Luna, age 33. Killed by a speeding car in a hit-and-run while crossing N. Figueroa in a marked crosswalk at Marmion Way on a bicycle.

    September 18, 2015 – Yolanda Lugo, 52. Struck by a car in a hit-and-run while walking across N. Figueroa in a marked but un-signalized crosswalk at Avenue 55, died from her injuries September 20.

    December 15, 2015- The most recent victim, a young man,struck and killed by a large semi-truck while walking across N. Figueroa at Avenue 60, on his way to school.

  7. The victim was a member of the senior class at Los Angeles International Charter High School in Hermon, LAPD informs, walking to school in Hermon and headed for the Avenue 60 bridge, struck by a semi and then dragged underneath it. Other member(s) of the LAICHS family apparently either witnessed or came upon the scene and recognized the boy’s school uniform — stopping to help. LAICHS (not an LAUSD charter) was not originally included in the school closure today, but did send students home shortly thereafter — before finding out about this tragedy. Now school officers are at the scene with family, and plans are in the works to provide grief counseling when school resumes tomorrow

  8. This is horrible and sad, but best to remember that we are really dealing with an age of distraction for drivers, cyclists AND pedestrians. Solutions need to be found and road diets are not the only way. We don;t know if this and accident was the fault of the pedestrian, driver or both.

    “A study by Eric M. Lamberg and Lisa M. Muratori at Stony Brook University found that distracted walkers veer off course by as much as 61 percent while texting and walking.”

    “Distracted walking is most common among millennials aged 18 to 34, but women 55 and older are most likely to suffer serious injuries, including broken bones, according to a 2013 study in Accident Analysis & Prevention. Visits to emergency rooms for injuries involving distracted pedestrians on cellphones more than doubled between 2004 and 2010 and continues to grow. Among more than 1,000 people hospitalized after texting while walking, injuries included a shattered pelvis and injuries to the back, head and neck.

    According to the National Safety Council, “the rise in cellphone-distracted walking injuries parallels the eightfold increase in cellphone use in the last 15 years.”


  9. Road diets are a nightmare and doesn’t help get my kids to and from school with out long traffic line delays.
    Silverlake Blvd. for one is terrible as is York.
    Road diets just cause more back ups and worse traffic when people need to get home to their families, such as myself.

    • Why are you in such a hurry?

    • Road diets do not cause traffic back ups. They preserve average travel times while dampening down on excessive speeding between red lights. 10 cars lined up at a light in one lane vs. 10 cars lined up in two lanes does equal “more traffic”.

      • She’s in too big of a hurry to get home to her family to read traffic data about reducing fatalities to other people’s families.

      • This is absolutely false, driving from Hyperion to Fletcher via Rowena used to take 2 minutes, now its 5-7 minutes or even longer if traffic is blocking the left turn light at Fletcher. Then you have to contend with Fletcher to Riverside which is also backed up. All this does is frustrate motorists and everyone leaves the light at Riverside heading to the 2 or San Fernando like its an F1 race.

        • 7 minutes seems like a reasonable inconvenience when lives are at stake.

        • So leave 5-7 minutes earlier. Honestly, that reluctance to give up 5-7 is so silly. California attitudes towards driving are so ego-driven and self-centered, it’s all about the individual getting to their place as fast as possible, safety secondary.

          • p.s. I am californian before anyone jumps on me about not being from here. Just criticizing my fellow californian’s attitudes towards driving. 🙂

    • I drive on York every day during rush hour and it’s not bad. It’s slightly annoying when you’re running late of course, but overall I really apppreciate the slower speed of that street. It’s so much safer for everyone. Silverlake blvd is also fine. I work full time and have really crazy busy schedule, but I do not feel York holds me up from getting to work on time more than 5 or 10 minutes if I am crunched for time. Additionally, you don’t hear about the same kind of accidents on York as you do on Fig. Isn’t it better that your kids and everyone else’s kids are safe rather than you save 5-10 minutes?

  10. So sad. A high school senior that had his whole life ahead of him and gone in an instant.

    Everyone be safe out there and don’t trust that any car/truck/motorcycle/bike can see you or is paying attention.


  11. This is so sad. A child’s life was taken too early. Figueroa needs to be safer for pedestrians. This is too cruel. Gil Cedillo please take note, this is just a couple of blocks from his office.

  12. It’s kind of pathetic that as a knee jerk reaction lazy, impatient drivers are citing being inconvenienced by the York and Rowena road diets in some of these comments. You do not need to be a pedestrian or cyclist you see that Figueroa street is absolute madness and Cedillo’s lack of vision and implementation has screwed over this district.

  13. The thinking that adding more car lanes — or protecting every single one already in place — is an answer to the insane levels of traffic in Los Angeles is like a drug addict thinking that another fix of heroin is a solution to his out-of-control addiction problem. LA has a real addiction to cars that not only sees streets impossibly jammed up much of the time, but is helping to rapidly warm the planet to dangerous levels, and — as we have another example of today — has become hazardous to basic human activities like walking around.

    Just as an addict often refuses to acknowledge his problem until perhaps it is too late, some people refuse to see the plain cause of all the LA traffic: too many cars. And they refuse to see all of the harm to our lives and communities created by unsafe streets by stubbornly adhering to Twentieth Century solutions that don’t work anymore.

    We’ve got four deaths — three pedestrians and one cyclist — on Figueroa since Councilman Cedillo killed the LADOT safety plan for the street last year. Yes, the plan was for safety: for pedestrians, bicyclists, and automobile drivers alike, so that cars aren’t zooming down a neighborhood street at highway speeds and killing our kids, mothers, and friends. These plans have demonstrably had very little impact on traffic throughput, but have kept the flow steadier and safer. Ask an LADOT engineer.

    Either we continue privileging the automobile in Los Angeles, and more and more cars take to city streets, and traffic continues to get unthinkably worse — OR we make it safe and practical for people to take alternatives, like walking, biking, and public transportation.

    If walking or biking don’t suit you, no one is trying to force you to do these things. But please don’t defend your automobile-driving privilege to the point that it makes everyone else unsafe. Because ultimately, what you are defending is merely the privilege to be stuck in traffic.

  14. Everyone leaving stupid comments crying about road diets, bikes vs cars, bring in race and everything always forgets what the story is about that a teenager died today, at this moment no gives a craps about what you all our thinking, you people are some of the reasons that America is so screwed up. Every time something happens it’s blame this blame that, yet none of you go and do anything about it,crying on the internet won’t get you no where

    • ” Every time something happens it’s blame this blame that, yet none of you go and do anything about it,crying on the internet won’t get you no where”

      UM HELLO!? Every time this happens everyone is SCREAMING for something to change! Do something on Fig! The status quo is NOT WORKING. People are dying and the car drivers are just blaming the victim. Look around LA, its cars, cars ,cars cars cars. There are no bike lanes there are no bus lanes just lanes for cars to drive as fast as they can in between red lights. Fig and every other street in LA needs to be redesigned so that you can’t speed, you can’t tailgate you can’t cut in and out and until that happens more people will die, in cars, on bikes and walking.

      You don’t have the right to drive and you don’t have the right to parking, get over yourself!

    • A lot of us, including members of Figueroa for All, have been doing something about it. We’ve been asking Councilman Cedillo to live up to his campaign pledge to implement the city’s safety plan for Figueroa. I’ve personally been to the vigil for Yolanda Lugo, the last person to be needlessly killed on Figueroa.

      The tragedy today was horrible, but unfortunately predictable. A lot of us are working to try to stop the deaths. There will be a vigil for the student beginning this afternoon at 4pm at the incident site, Figueroa and Avenue 60. Hope you can make it.

      • Margarito Martinez

        Friend, do you know the difference between excessive speed and criminal drunk driving. No road diet or bike lane could have prevented these deaths. That’s what bothers people about Fig4All. They jump to exploit every accident on North Fig as a result of “poor street design”, and ” Speeding.” Bike Lanes are thier magical remedy for ending all traffic fatalities. That is unreasonable, and even fanatical. Crossing Guards and a Motorcycle Cop posted near by seem like more realistic solutions.

        • Yolanda Lugo was struck at 9:45pm. You can’t put a motorcycle and a crossing guard at all the intersections on North Fig throughout the day. It’s a bigger problem.

          Also: we don’t know what was going on for the driver in this case, because it was a hit-and-run. You conjecture he/she was drunk, but we don’t know. All we know is that the pedestrian was in the crosswalk, and the car in the number 1 land stopped, but the car in the number 2 lane did not. This *is* a problem that would be addressed by narrowing Figueroa.

          The street, as it is, invites driving too fast.

        • Has nothing to do with Bike Lanes (they are an added benefit) and everything to do with making our local streets safer by keeping motor vehicles at sane and safe speeds.

  15. You all realize there’s countries where traffic engineers have more or less figured this safety stuff out, right?

    We can drastically reduce the death toll in this country, saving tens of thousands of lives every year, if we simply prioritize public safety over top speeds.

    These are not “accidents”… human tragedy is baked into the street design in this country. And the data is pretty clear… slowing cars to a more urban-appropriate speed is the only realistic way to change this shameful status quo.

  16. Where LA loses about 200-250 people/year in traffic collisions on all our streets and highways, three of those in 2015 will have come from a single few-blocks stretch of Figueroa. Sure, we can debate till we’re blue in the face about travel times, delays, bikes v cars, etc. etc.

    The plain and simple truth is that a half-mile segment of street that accounts for 0.007% of all of LA’s 7,500 miles of streets now accounts for 1.5% of all of our city’s traffic-related collisions for the year. In other words, people traveling this one-mile stretch of N Figueroa are 100 times more likely to die than if they were traveling on the average LA street. 100 times more likely.

    Let that sink in. That’s not a fluke. Sure, the driver who killed the cyclist earlier this year was drunk. And maybe either or both the driver or pedestrian were distracted at the time of today’s collision. But distractions and drinking and other issues happen all the time. Who on this thread hasn’t driven faster than the speed limit? Or looked down at their phone while driving or walking across an intersection? Or driven through a marked crosswalk as someone was trying to walk through it? This is human behavior. It’s just that the street design on this stretch of N Figueroa unfortunately lends itself to that human behavior being more fatal than elsewhere. With tragic and upsetting results.

    The likelihood of death when being hit by someone going 20 MPH versus 40 MPH goes from around 10% to more than 80%. And the time and distance it takes for you or I to get to a full stop after hitting the car brakes to avoid collision goes from 20 feet at 20 MPH to 60 feet at 40 MPH. These aren’t subjects of debate. They’re immutable characteristics, and choices we all make every time we get behind the wheel, set out on foot, or plop down on a bike.

    Today is a day for mourning, and it is a tragic call to action to make sure this doesn’t happen again.




    We ll miss You kid.

  18. Rest in peace, young man. So sad. This is a terrible tragedy. I’m so sad for his family and the community.


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