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Sunday, September 25, 2016

Driver arrested in fatal Echo Park traffic accident

The driver who fatally struck a 65-year-old Echo Park man as he crossed the street has been arrested and booked on vehicular manslaughter, police said today. Gregory Andrew Fein, a resident of Chino Hills was arrested on Monday and his bail was set at $50,000, according to LAPD Detective Felix Padilla with the Central Traffic Bureau. Fein was driving a black Audi northbound on Echo Park Avenue on the morning of Monday, April 11 when he hit Aureliano Polanco as the man crossed the street at Lucretia Avenue. Polanco, a longtime Echo Park resident, died shortly after while being treated at a hospital.

CBS2 and Patch/City News report that Fein might have been distracted with a Blue Tooth wireless device.



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42 comments

  1. CarrieBorzilloAwfulWriter

    Was he drunk? Why such a harsh charge?

    • How is it harsh?

    • There are two distinct sections in the penal code, one for vehicular manslaughter, and one for vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated. In a nutshell, if you kill someone with your car while engaging in an unlawful act, but didn’t intend to kill the person, you are guilty of vehicular manslaughter. Not yielding to a pedestrian at an intersection is an unlawful act, and doing so resulted in the pedestrian’s death. Seems pretty straightforward to me.

    • I’d be interested in what Carrie thinks would be the appropriate charge for unintentionally killing someone with a vehicle as a result of failing to obey the law but being sober.

      • In Glendale when a Mom ran over a child crossing a crosswalk in front of a school, the driver didn’t even go to jail. It seems generally okay to kill people in LA, as long as its an accident. Maybe this is why people think this is a harsh charge? I can’t even believe I just typed that.

        http://abclocal.go.com/kabc/story?section=news/local/los_angeles&id=6477858

        • Brandon —
          The difference between the instant case and the case you mention in Glendale seems to be that this was an avoidable accident. The driver in Echo Park did not mean to kill the man and I am sure he regrets it with all his being but it sounds like he was probably using his phone and speeding and failing to stop for a pedestrian at an intersection when all of this happened. In the other case you mentioned, the mother may not have seen and have had no opportunity to avoid the toddler and the accident. It does not sound like that was the case here. In any case, every incident is different and every police force is different. But I think it is rare, rare event where somebody dies as a result of somebody else’s negligence and the negligent person is not arrested and charged. I’ve just never heard of that happening. If you cause somebody’s death, you can expect to be charged with something.

  2. Per LinkedIn, he does clearances for TOSH.O at Comedy Central. That sucks, probably a normal guy, but made a mistake of texting, dialing or talking on his cell phone. Good lesson for the rest of us.

    • Yeah, it really is a good lesson. His life as he knew it is probably over too.

    • For the Record,… This is NOT the same Greg Fein who works on Tosh.0
      EP Guy… Think next time before your take the first hit on LinkedIn and draw damning conclusions that forever link me to this.

  3. Looks from the damage that the speed level must have been way above the limit – recklessly above? How fast would one have to be going bend metal like that and produce a concave windshield??

    • Depends on how heavy the victim was, I suppose. I’ve seen some gnarly damage to cars from hitting deer at slower than 30.

      I wonder if the question is less speed and more that it’s Distracted Driving month and the LAPD was already taking a strong stance against people using their phones while driving (GOOD!). Since the charged was using a phone, it wouldn’t surprise me if the LAPD is throwing the book at him to make an example of this. As they should, this is sad and should never have happened.

  4. I figured the car would have been going southbound. Seems worse knowing driver was going up the hill

  5. Excellent. All you self-important distracted drivers take heed, get off your gizmo before you kill someone.

  6. I am so sorry that this happened to both of these guys. Shocking how fast life can change. Stay safe and let’s take care of each other.

  7. Well done, LAPD.

    Where are all of his apologists now?

    Well?

    WELL?

  8. this is tragic for everyone – unfortunately, when i first heard about the accident, i thought it would have been a bus that hit someone. they fly by my store on echo park ave. at about 50mph all day, every day.

    everyone needs to slow down. nothing is THAT important…

  9. @ Brandon : Glendale drivers seem to get away with murder, literally. Last summer a young female killed a woman in a crosswalk while texting. All she got was probation. Life is cheap there.

  10. Does anyone know of this was a crosswalk? It says intersection so to me that would imply he ran a red light? But that hasn’t been mentioned.

    When I use crosswalks I’m super paranoid about people not yielding to them as some of them are placed pretty poorly. Like the one on silverlake blvd near the basketball court. I’ve seen so many pedestrians nearly hit there because it is after a blind curve.

    I think this is so sad for both. Yes he should have been paying more attention- and at this point it seems his distraction is a speculation so I won’t speak like I know for sure- but I’m sure he feels devastated and with it not being intentional- it just seems to make a sad situation even sadder if another life was “taken” by a long prison sentence.

    My thoughts and prayers go out to the victims family.

    • Julie, there isn’t a painted crosswalk, nor is that intersection controlled by a traffic signal. Mr. Polanco, who was crossing corner to corner at this intersection, did so legally in what’s considered an “unmarked” crosswalk, when he was struck and killed by Mr. Fein who failed to yield.

      California Vehicle Code 21950(a): The driver of a vehicle shall yield the right-of-way to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within any marked crosswalk or
      within any unmarked crosswalk at an intersection…

      There were comments in previous posts by people unfamiliar with this law who either presumed the victim was jaywalking, but he was not.

  11. So if you kill someone and “feel devastated” you should not have to heed the consequences? He was not paying attention: he was fiddling with his blue tooth, and he openly confessed this to the police. A car driven by someone not paying attention is a lethal weapon. He plowed right into a pedestrian and killed him. He did not even put on his brakes. I’m sure he feels bad, but there must be consequences to reckless driving.

    • As there are consequences to crossing the street when cars are looming towards you.
      If the city provided proper cross walk with visible signage and flashing lights as they have in Europe this “accident” may not have happened.
      There’s no reason for this guy to go to prison on the tax payers dime.

      • @Echo, there are plenty of streets in Europe without signage and flashing lights and they are on streets similar to this one in a residential neighborhood. Those things might have helped in this situation, but it’s unlikely that this type of street would have them.

        Also, the ped didn’t make the decision to step in front of a car that was ‘looming’ towards him. According to the eyewitness who was stopped for him while driving in the opposite direction, the car came out of nowhere. The guy was speeding. And it’s driving like that in a residential neighborhood that will kill someone.

      • What you aren’t understanding, and possibly could not unless you’d seen this happen, is that the driver was coming up the hill as if driving blind. He was not looking at all. The pedestrian was very clearly…there…halfway across. I had stopped for him. There was no reason to hit him. The driver had his foot on the accelerator and was not looking at the road. I watched him speed up and it was obvious he was going to hit this man and the man was very old, walking very slowly, already halfway across, no way to duck out of danger. The driver did not see the pedestrian at all, as he told police. He didn’t know until his windshield was shattered and there was a body on his car. Now: how could flashing lights prevent that? You have to look, have eyes open as you drive or you are a danger to others. If people can drive that way, kill a man, with no consequences, that’s just not right. You are disregarding the idea of due process and an actual legal system to claim they should be arresting gangbangers instead. The division of lapd that handles this is a traffic division and has nothing to do with gangs. In any case, no one should be arrested without due process. You can’t just round people up and put them in jail. What you are basically saying is that white people who run over old men should be able to get away with murder and Latinos should be rounded up for wearing knee high tube socks and having neck tattoos. And we are almost there–that is almost our society–but not quite. And thank goodness.

  12. Im wondering if any of you could say you have never taken your eyes off the road for even one second! Whether it be controlling the air conditioner or or adjusting your volume, looking in your rear view which you are supposed to do every few seconds while driving, talking to your kids in the back seat, or in my case with allergies- sometimes you have to sneeze! (Which is scary by the way)

    Now knowing this was an unmarked crosswalk it makes it even worse. Also if it had flashing lights as someone mentioned above it probably actually would have caught his attention even if he wasn’t fully concentrated.

    All I’m saying is- we have all taken out eyes off the road for a moment for one reason or another- I’m not ready to throw someone is prison for life when it could have been ANY of us. Terrible things happen. It is certainly a tragedy. And my heart breaks for all involved.

    • Nope, I’ve never been so distracted that I don’t notice a car stopped in the opposite direction, and wonder if there’s a good reason for it. And I don’t allow myself to get distracted in residential neighborhoods where pedestrians may need to cross. To miss something that obvious takes much more than a “moment”. Much more than a sneeze . Or it requires that you’re going so fast that the speed alone is reckless, even without distraction. And as for kids – when my daughter urges me to “look at this!”, I explain to her that I can’t, because I don’t want to run into anyone. She understands that cars can hurt people.

      Take a look at the Google Maps streetview of this intersection, and you’ll see how pointless a crosswalk is. Common sense… you see a pedestrian crossing to/from that bakery, on a road this narrow, you stop. You see a car stopped in the opposite direction, you take heed and orient yourself to the situation.

      As I explain to my daughter, anything that pulls your attention away from the road in front of you can wait… nothing is more important than the safety of our friends and neighbors.

    • Julie. Thank you. That was perfectly stated.

      And yes, prayers and healing to everyone involved.

  13. I work for the CHP on an elite accident investigation team and I am always amazed at the number of people who chime in on these pages and who really have no expertise. Leave the analysis to the experts and let the legal system do its job. I’m pretty sure nobody who has posted above is an accident reconstruction expert, including Carly who “witnessed” the accident and knows for a fact that the driver wasn’t paying attention. Carly, you don’t really know because you weren’t in the car him and I’m

    • I did witness it. I also am capable of completing my sentences, which apparently the expert from the CHP is too busy with his ‘elite investigation team’ to do.
      And the driver was on the scene and openly admitted that he was not paying attention. it was no secret.
      I wonder why you put ‘witnesses’ in quotes, chp ‘elite investigation team member.’
      as if witnessing an accident were an affect, a posture, a claim.
      Bullshit.

  14. I just would like to note that while yes, he is charged with manslaughter, and yes, that is a serious charge, by no means is he going to prison for the rest of his life. Even if he is convicted of manslaughter it is uncertain that he will go to prison or jail at all. Vehicular manslaughter without intoxication is what is known as a wobbler – it can be charged either as a felony or a misdemeanor. Even if it is charged as a felony, he can still be given probation. Most likely, he will get 3-5 years of probation with some very hefty probation requirements–restitution fines, substantial community service, etc. Plus I’m sure Mr. Polanco’s family can bring a pretty strong wrongful death suit.

    Given that no sentence can undo what’s been done, this makes sense to me–his acts amounted to the statutory definition of vehicular manslaughter, and as such he has earned carrying that on his record for a time. But destroying his life more than it’s already been destroyed does not serve anyone.

  15. The driver should be held responsible for HIS actions. Bottom line is he KILLED a pedestrian, and if the authorities do their proper job in investigating , presenting the proper facts, such as the driver’s state of alcohol level, the actual speed he must have been traveling etc. All this should determined his sentence and not just by a simple fine $ . He has completely changed his life and non the less the life’s of the victim’s family. By his actions on the scene he showed no remorse over what he had done by smoking a cigg and attempting to flee.
    Thank goodness for EYEWITNESSES on the scene even before the cops got there.

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