Echo Park fatal traffic accident case referred to District Attorney*

Police markings at scene of fatal Echo Park accident.

The motorist who fatally struck an elderly man crossing Echo Park Avenue on Wednesday morning appears to be at fault, and the case  will be presented to the District Attorney for review, said LAPD Dect. Felix Padilla with the Central Traffic Bureau. “I am going to present the case to the DA to see if they see any criminal negligence or determine …. if it was a tragic accident,” Padilla said this morning. “It appears that the motorist was at fault. For some reason he didn’t see the pedestrian in the crosswalk.”

The driver of the northbound black Audi that struck the man on Echo Park Avenue at Lucretia Avenue was not traveling at an excessive speed, Padilla said. He said there was no eyewitness accounts to show the driver was distracted using a phone.

The identity of the victim, who died Wednesday morning following surgery, has not been released by the county coroner. But some residents said the man, described as a Latino male in his 60s, lived on Echo Park Avenue near the accident.

*Update: The victim has been identified as Aurelio Polanco, 65, according to the county coroner. The victim’s family told Patch that Polanco had raised three children in Echo Park and  lived in same house for three decades. He was believed to be crossing the street in the way to a Dash bus stop when he was hit.


    • Unless someone proves it’s intentional, this incident remains an accident. Remember, no one here has been charged with a crime, and it would be a while before the court system passes judgement .

      • Every traffic collision is the result of an intentional act — the decision to stop paying attention to the road in front of you while operating a vehicle.

        It’s never an accident, and it’s always a crime: “CVC 22350. No person shall drive a vehicle upon a highway at a speed greater than is reasonable or prudent having due regard for weather, visibility, the traffic on, and the surface and width of, the highway, and in no event at a speed which endangers the safety of persons or property.”

        • “Every traffic collision is the result of an intentional act — the decision to stop paying attention to the road in front of you while operating a vehicle.”

          EXACTLY. Just because you don’t hit somebody every time you take your eyes off the road doesn’t mean it’s not your fault the day you actually do hit someone. If that poor guy had been hit by a falling tree, *that* would be an accident. This was driver negligence, pure and simple. As the witnesses said, the driver never slowed down before hitting the guy.

        • Whoa! Slow down. It is NOT automatically a driver’s fault! It might very well be the fault of the driver in this case, but you people are saying it is automatically always the driver’s fault. That just is not so.

          As for making a decision, pedestrians make decisions too.

          You people are skipping right over our Constitution and the right to trial. Gee, you presume guilt — how unAmerican. In America, we presume innocence until it is proven otherwise.

          • Thumbs up henry! The lynch mob mentality is beyond uncalled for.

          • But the term is still called collision, not accident. This is one of the first things you read in the drivers handbook before taking the test for a license. I don’t think anyone up above was claiming who was at fault yet.


            We aren’t always innocent until proven guilty. If you get a traffic related ticket, you are automatically assumed guilty, which you sign right when you receive the ticket. I am guilty since I am paying before they know if I am guilty or innocent.

          • @ Brandon: when you receive a traffic ticket and sign it, that is when you proclaim yourself guilty. if you want to have your day in court, don’t sign it. it’s basically a waiver.

          • I don’t think the idea is to make any judgements before knowing the facts, just a different way to describe what happened, which is a collision. “Accident” has always been a loaded word because it absolves the negligent of their responsibilities.

    • ac·ci·dent/ˈaksidənt/
      An unfortunate incident that happens unexpectedly and unintentionally, typically resulting in damage or injury.
      A crash involving road or other vehicles, typically one that causes serious damage or injury.
      mishap – chance – casualty – misadventure – fortuity

      So n complete agreement with The Eastsider.

      • Don’t mean to get into battling dictionaries here, but according to my Webster’s dictionary the legal meaning of the word accident is “an unforeseen event that occurs without anyone’s fault or negligence.” Personally, I’d suggest a more neutral word like “crash” until the investigation is complete.

  1. There is no cross walk there.. At least not one that is visible.

    • This again. Every intersection (marked or unmarked) is a legal crosswalk! Yes, I know “safe” is another matter.

    • I picked up on the mention of the crosswalk, too. That makes a big difference regarding fault.

      But know this, a crosswalk does not need to be a marked crosswalk. Any intersection is a legal crosswalk unless otherwise posted. No lines are needed. In fact, some years ago, the city was actually starting to take out the lines for crosswalks because court decisions were holding the city liable for accidents in crosswalks for having given a false sense of security by putting down those lines.

  2. The rhetorical split between intentional act and crime may be helpful for the law, but it was an accident. He who hath not driven “a vehicle upon a highway at a speed greater than is reasonable or prudent having due regard for weather, visibility, the traffic on, and the surface and width of, the highway, and in no event at a speed which endangers the safety of persons or property” cast the first stone…

  3. I would be shocked if the driver was not texting or dialing a number or fiddling with some other electronic device. His/her phone records should reveal what happened. Some drivers can be so inattentive while driving it makes you mad.

    • FYI: More accidents occur while drivers are attending to their children and/or pets than due to fiddling with electronic devices. A tragedy has occurred in the neighborhood. Lets refrain from allowing our imaginations to concoct scenarios and wait for the facts to emerge.

  4. This accident serves as an unfortunate metaphor for what is happening in Echo Park: The gentrifying, mostly affluent youth moving in and rolling right over the locals who have called this place their home for so many years.

    • The affluent youth for the most part are improving the neighborhood, the locals have let it to rot for years and spawned the gang banging off spring responsible for the vast majority of murders.

      • what exactly does this racist generalization have to do with the man who died in echo park yesterday, while quietly and innocently crossing the street?

        I have been following all the comments on these articles about the accident and am starting to realize there are a lot of unreasonable and even crazy people posting. I’m going to get off this sight. I like the Eastsider but the people who post… My god.

        • Carly,
          It doesn’t have much to do with it, and I apologize for that. It’s just hard to not respond to Kari’s first racist comment (against affluent whites) moving into and “rolling right over the locals”.

      • As an Echo Park Resident for 46 years of my life , my family for over 58 years , this comment is absolutely not only insulting , but downright ignorant . Extremely closed minded and ignorant.
        To assume that we are all spawning gang bangers , and have let our community rot is deplorable ! You have no idea how wonderful it is to have grown up in Echo Park . There are many of us that have grown up here that are not what you ignorantly describe.
        We have lived here all our lives , built homes , own homes, businesses, raised college graduates etc.
        Im tired of the “myth” perpetuated that Echo Park was a wild west of gun toting morons. There are a few idiots in every neighborhood.
        We grew up here , peacefully , enjoyed the parks and the lifestyle just like we do now, and that you are enjoying now. Save for yes, the few morons that ruin any neighborhood .
        Peter Shire grew up in the neighborhood too. You cant tell me he is a gang banging spawner!
        Educate yourself , Echo Park has always been home to many of us creative people.
        You will never understand this however , because you are only one of those people who rode the wave in to Echo Park because it was “cool” ,
        But invested absolutely nothing to where it is now until it was “safe” and esoteric enough for you to move here .

        • Are suggesting the neighborhood improved more in the 46 years you lived here and than in the last 5-10 years? Like crime went down, gangs dissolved, people became more educated, local business flourished and the overall aesthetics of Echo Park improved? Because if you suggesting that you are delusional. People like you who ignore the obvious failed Echo Park and the statistics do not lie.
          And btw, this is not gentrification, what is happening is called restoration.

          • PussyFace:Where in my post did i mention “gentrify “…. where?
            Things have been great for many of us that have
            lived here for a long time .
            It has always been good and it has always been “home” .
            The fringe of A-holes exist everywhere ! Even in our neighborhood.
            You assume if you lived here for a lifetime that we are less educated than people who have lived here in the past few years ? Are you kidding me ?
            What planet are you from? How insulting !
            Failed Echo Park? > Oh my god you are delusional ????
            We had Jerry’s Pioneer , Lerners, Crown , Finers ,Taix, Bright Spot ,The Ramona , Nayarit , Carmelos , Woolworth , Parades , Festivals in the Park etc……These are ALL good things and ALL good memories .
            Its people like you who are delusional and act like you brought goods to the New World , again , because you only dared to come to Echo Park until it was “safe ” for you , and fit your “aesthetic” .Weird.
            Are you telling me ,my childhood my friends my family are all delusional uneducated murderous gang bangers ?
            Your blatant ignorance speaks volumes .
            Echo Park has always been a gem .
            It always has and always will be a diverse fun neighborhood that people like you can only imagine , because you assume what it was like, and can only develop a pseudo-connection to a neighborhood you really have no ties to.
            Using “hipster ” or “gentrify ” is just as ignorant .
            What is worse is to assume that long time residents are all gang bangers and losers , and have done nothing to sustain the charm of Echo Park .
            Oh and please tell me when the gangs decided to “dissolve” .News to me.
            I wish they would “dissolve”. But according to you , they have ? So tell , tell us all when they dissolved ?
            You comments are a major FAIL .

          • Oh jodhop!

            A 46+ year old using that kind of language?

            Tsss tsss

          • Jodhop,
            You aren’t even bright enough to know you just proved my point. You listed great stores that went to crap under your watch. You talk about how well educated the community is when your own grasp of the English language is somewhere between tween text and a moron. Why did you do nothing to keep Echo Park the great place it once was? Amazing work Jodhop. I guess being a self proclaimed creative also means your childlike thinking prevents you from taking any responsibility for watching Echo Park go to crap under your watch. Enjoy the link below. It will tell you a few important aspects of Echo Park. If I type them you will go ballistic on me and use more profanities, so just enjoy the read. If you need help reading a pie chart hit me back and I’ll walk you through it.


          • I grew up here and my family has been in Eco Park since the 40″s. Get your stories straight it was the Rampart Division that was doing corruption in Echo Park spawned all that crime. it Started going down when it was exposed. If you don’t know shut up!

    • David, my comment was not racist in the least, and certainly not as much as any of your seething followups. By singling out “affluent youths” (you are the one who showed us that you associate affluent with white in your comment since I never mentioned race, bit of a Freudian slip there) I was just pointing out the change in the area, and in a sick way, this accident is sort of a metaphor for what has been happening. I am all about improving the neighborhood, whether that means more recent college graduates moving in who genuinely love the area, and I believe they do, or educating and improving the lives of many who are already here and have succumbed to gang pressure, to integrating the newcomers with those who have been here for generations but are not affiliated with violence or other vices. However, in regards to this recent accident, it seems the most immediate way we can improve the neighborhood is to improve pedestrian safety, and for all of us to be more aware of our surroundings while driving.

      • You comment was classist, actually. And I absolutely associate affluence with whites—most affluent people in the country are white. And more to the point, the vast majority of the “affluent” people moving to echo park are white. I would not be surprised if it was 99% in fact. I am white/hispanic, it makes no difference to me, and I agree with the later of half of your comment.

  5. Presumption of innocence is a rule of evidence, not a constitutional right. If the driver was criminally negligent it could be both a crime and an unintentional act. Regardless, a tragedy.

  6. I am also curious if he was in a crosswalk …there is none in the picture with the spray paint. A driver is not legally expected to anticipate or see someone walking into the street at every moment. But a driver is expected to anticipate a pedestrian in a crosswalk. It’s a huge difference. I’m not saying he was or wasn’t at fault just way too little information to make a decision. I’m also certain the investigator will track his texting and phone records to see if he was on his phone. If he wasn’t, and wasn’t speeding and the pedestrian wasn’t in the crosswalk then the driver won’t be considered at fault….unless there is another unforeseen circumstance.

    • See above for your confusion about the crosswalk.

    • Hey genius, tell me, how do YOU cross an intersection without a painted crosswalk? Moron.

      • Carefully. I never said you can’t do it “genius”. I simply stated a fact…Drivers are legally expected to anticipate pedestrians in crosswalks. Drivers are not expected to outside of a crosswalk. That’s why it’s a lot more dangerous to cross outside of one and we all need to be careful. It’s why jay walking is illegal. Learn the law if you want to question it. Another example is a car isn’t expected to see a bicyclist in a crosswalk. They are for pedestrians only. That doesn’t give anyone the right to speed or not watch the road but if someone accidently steps in front of a car outside of a crosswalk it will likely be deemed the pedestrians fault, unless, of course, speeding, a cell phone or some other circumstance comes into play. Nothing personal, just a fact.

        • the victim was dragged down the street aways past the corner; the spray paint is where the car finally stopped.

          • i’m late on this but actually there are two painted areas, witness # 1 and witness # 2, and witness #1 claims he was in the crosswalk, and the other says he was just north of it.
            I am witness one.
            He was definitely in the crosswalk.

  7. I mostly drive a scooter (although I do have a truck, too) and when I come to a stoplight, I am legally able to go around the cars and move to the front of the line. When doing so, I can easily see inside the cars and I notice that OVER HALF of the persons in the vehicles are texting. OVER HALF!!!! All sorts of people… young, old, men, women… even cops. So many people texting and driving distracted. It’s very alarming, and I am an extremely defensive driver because of it.

    • I saw this accident happen and I can tell you I will never ever look at my phone in the car again. Practically everyone does it and it’s extremely dangerous.

    • I agree. I take the 5 into Orange County daily for work, and most days via motorcycle. Seeing the face-down texting pose makes me want to pull up next to the car, bang on the window, and give them a piece of my mind. All I can do is honk and move right along.

      • I notice that on a bike too. Everyone is on their phone. It’s scary. Then they yell at bikers for not following the rules? Drifting into rant zone here, but if you stand at a stop sign like the one on EP ave you’ll notice 90% of the cars roll it.

  8. Hmmmmm, who carries a cellphone around with no sim card? Suspicious.
    AND, although any corner is a legal cross walk, I see many people crossing with out looking and then assuming any on coming vehicle is going to see and stop. My personal favorite is the stroller with mom behind. Weeee! What ever happened to Safety first? Just saying.

    • Are you saying the driver’s cell phone was missing the sim card? How do you know that?
      Also, not all phones have sim’s, only cells on the GSM network (AT&T, T-mobile) have sim cards. Cells on other carriers, like Verizon, do not have sim cards.

    • Ok, I see the sim card comment in the other thread that reported this ‘crash’.

      But even if he did take it out, the phone company would still have a record of any calls completed or text’s sent/received. So not sure the act of hiding the sim card would help him in that case.

    • I’ve seen this too!!!!! Pedestrians will “play chicken” with a car knowing they have the right of way!!! I guess drivers are usually paying attention and stop in time. Unfortunately the assumption that the driver saw him crossing was wrong…

    • Stroller rage!

  9. this area has been a problem 4 yrs . Officer ”Popeye” would tix everyone. this area should have been clerly signed high consentration of SENORS here. there is no defined cross walk, cars run stop sign or speed down E.P Ave like it was a thoughfere. THERES A PROBLEM HERE!

  10. My condolences all parties involved. We shouldnt be fighting. it never solved anything. We should be reaching out to one another since we all live here together. I dont think any of us are in a position to judge, nore would I wanna be. Being hostile wont solve anything. Name calling wont help. And now, there are orange marks on the street in front of my favorite little coffee house marking where someone lost their life. I grew up here, I live here, and I plan to raise my daughter here. I dont want to point my finger here, there is really no place for it. Just my humble subjective opinion folks. May tomorrow be a nicer day for all.

  11. I never thought I’d feel this way, but I’d actually be thrilled to see some traffic law enforcement around here. Personally I can’t recall ever seeing anyone stopped for speeeding or running red lights and stop signs in my neighborhood (NE Silver lake) Where is the enforcement?
    Everyday cars speed past me on Riverside, Rowena, Sunset at 50 mph or more. I’m in the habit of looking both ways before moving when a light turns green, lest I be T boned by an all too common reckless or distracted driver running the light.

  12. @J —

    You are mistaken about the California Vehicle Code as it pertains to pedestrian right-of-way. Many drivers have the same misunderstanding. Here’s a quote from the CA drivers handbook at http://www.dmv.ca.gov/pubs/hdbk/right_of_way.htm

    “A crosswalk is the part of the roadway set aside for pedestrian traffic. Most intersections have a pedestrian crosswalk whether or not lines are painted on the street. […] Pedestrians have the right-of-way in marked or unmarked crosswalks.

    Crosswalks are often marked with white lines. […] Most often, crosswalks in residential areas are not marked.”

    So specifically, there is a “crosswalk” where residential streets come together, *whether there is a painted line or not.* Drivers must yield to pedestrians who are crossing at intersections. This is the LAW.

    Of course, a wise pedestrian does not count on the law to protect them.

    But as a driver, you should know and obey the law.

  13. So instead of a conversation about public safety and ways to improve this turned into not only the typical “Old Echo Park vs New Echo Park” debate but also a debate about definitions. Classy.


  15. i feel it is an over statement on behalf of the officer quoted to say that the pedestrian was in a crosswalk. it may be the law that any intersection is a crosswalk. if thats the case, maybe we need a stop sign at Lucretia? it’s a blind corner where there is a bus stop and a cafe, not to mention the 4-way traffic intersection. BTW why is the city waiting to repaint the stripes on EP blvd? its sad that someone has to die in LA to get a proper pedestrian crossing. hoping for the best.

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