Woman killed in Highland Park hit-and-run

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HIGHLAND PARK — A 57-year-old woman was struck and killed on Sunday night by a vehicle whose driver might have been talking on a cellphone during the collision.

Gloria Ortiz was hit while walking in a crosswalk in the intersection of Avenue 50 and San Marcos Place at 7:50 p.m., according to an advisory from the Central Traffic Division.  Ortiz was transported to Huntington Memorial Hospital, where she was pronounced dead at 9:20 p.m. She is survived by two adult daughters.

The hit-and-run driver, described as a possible male Latino, never applied the brakes and fled southbound on Avenue 50. The front windshield of his vehicle, described as an older model Honda Civic, was damaged during the crash, police said.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the LAPD Central Traffic Division Detectives at (213) 833-3713 or Detective Felix Padilla at (213) 486-0753. During non-business hours or on weekends, calls should be directed to 1-877-LAPD-24-7 (877-527-3247). Anyone wishing to remain anonymous should call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (800-222-8477).

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  1. I thought giving illegals drivers licenses was supposed to stop all the hit and runs. If only there were bike lanes and a clearly designated crosswalk, this never would have happened because those things make our roads so safe. Wait, there is a clearly defined crosswalk with ped crossing signs and bike lanes? Maybe we could ban cell phones while driving? What? We did that too. Well, I’m at a loss.

  2. There are several intersections in Highland Park that could use a lighted safety crosswalk. I am astounded there hasn’t been one placed at the corner of York and Avenue 63. That is an extremely dangerous intersection for pedestrians. I am so sorry to hear about this woman’s death. Get off the phone and DRIVE, people!

    • That one is particularly dangerous. Absolutely. Improvements to that crosswalk was supposed to be one of the improvements brought by the new Starbucks wasn’t it? I wasn’t at those community meetings but I thought I read that that was one of the things they were going to include?

    • The benefit of lighted crosswalks:

      They can reduce the number of collisions at an intersection (I have no study to back this up)
      They signal to drivers that a nonstationary road hazard might be ahead

      The drawbacks of lighted crosswalks:

      They start at $100,000
      The do nothing else for the community aside from warning motorists.

      A more holistic approach would try and make this less about Avenue 50 the transportation corridor and more about Avenue 50 and Aldama Elementary the pleasant place to live and walk, and maybe slowly drive through going less than 20 mph.

      That can be done for the same $100,000, probably less, in pavement treatment, some changes to the way lines are drawn on the road, street tree and parking re-arrangement, etc. There are a lot of great tricks of the trade to make places like this less fatal AND less ugly.

      • Dude, why don’t you just insist everyone go back to horse and carriages?

        • The reasons why I will not insist that “everyone go back to horses and carriages”:

          Horses drop loads of urine and feces in the city, which dries and turns into a nasty dust

          There are no carriage makers nor carriage parts suppliers in the region

          Housing and tending to livestock in the city would create a lot of sanitation problems with our current land use pattern.

          That is just off the top of my head.

          I wonder: why would you suggest something so stupid in the first place? There is nothing in my comment regarding travel by horse and buggy. My statements are generated from comparing our current street designs to other streets in the LA area, the US as a whole, and other streets in different cities around the world.

          Making our streets safe and attractive > over priced safety furniture bolted onto a dangerous-by-design street.

  3. So sad and awful. When I’m walking I always assume drivers do not see me, that’s the safest way.

  4. That and the city needs to do a better job maintaining road striping, stop & limit lines and crosswalk markings. Every time they repave streets these markings are erased to be redone at some ??? future date.

    We also need more police writing tickets in HLP. People run stop signs all of the time creating a culture of reckless driving.

  5. This is a treacherous crosswalk. It sits just over the crest of a hill and visibility is very poor, especially if you are traveling northbound on Avenue 50. I’ve seen lots of close calls there. There is no stop sign, just a crosswalk. The crosswalk is directly in front of Aldama Elementary and is an LADOT officially recommended crossing for that school. Not that poor visibility excuses the driver and I have no idea of it played a part in this tragedy since it sounds like the driver was traveling South in this case, but either way this crossing is not safe. I wish I’d acted sooner but the least we can do is ask for a safety review now. I’ve contacted Cedillo’s office, LAUSD and LADOT and would encourage others to do the same. Thank you.

  6. This has nothing to do with striping or anything. This is all about one scum bag who thinks his phone is more important than lives. What a pig, there should be a special hell for aholes like this.

    • this is wrong hope they catch the guy you cant hide what you did
      it will be on your mind just give up and deal with what you did

    • Even if they find the driver he or she will face no penalties if he says the following: I plead the 5th.

      Even if convicted of killing this old woman he will be able to obtain a drivers license soon after release from jail and be able to get back out there and kill or maim again.

      I think our legal system substitutes jail time (when we can get a conviction in traffic crimes – which is rare!) for real healing. The driver should be banned from driving for a decade or more – to see the world as a 57 year old woman might while she crosses the road.

      • Old woman? She was only 57. She was middle aged. This criminally negligent driver took decades of life away from her and her loved ones. The cops can actually track who was connected to local cell towers at that time, and then check which of those people had a car matching the one described in this incident. It’s not guaranteed to nail the guy, but it’s a start.

        • Apologies for misusing the moniker “old”.

          The driver, if he/she will face any charges by police can always say, “I let a friend drive the car that day and my cell phone was in the car.”

          I have had plenty of friends and acquaintances injured by hit-and-run drivers over the years. It is very, VERY, hard to ever see a conviction in these cases.

          There is a guy I see on my commute who I’ve gotten to know – he was injured by a hit-and-run driver on North Figueroa. His kid lost the use of her legs for almost 2 years and he had to quit his job to recover and care for his daughter. He was able to find the driver and presented his findings to the LAPD – who have done nothing. They know that if they charge the driver with vehicular manslaughter they would have a tough time in court, so they let the driver live his life while my friend has had to deal with 100% of the fallout. Every day this happens in LA. There is no victims compensation fund for unprosecuted traffic crime victims!

    • That may be true for this particular incident, but the lack of enforcement of existing traffic laws combined with inadequate road striping/crosswalk markings etc. helps create an environment where people drive recklessly. Just try and notice how many folks run stop signs and traffic signals as you are driving/walking around HLP and ER. We need enforcement of existing laws before we go running around reconfiguring streets and road diets.

      • Stepped up enforcement can be very effective – but the effects are short lived and the political cost can get pretty high for the local police. If the LAPD really patrolled the area and cracked down on traffic violations you;d see a lot of outraged locals claiming that they are being unfairly targeted as individuals or a community. I’m not saying “Dont’ do stings” but only that there are costs to doing them.

        Further, just enforcing the law will not affect the awful mismatch we have between street designs made to speed everyone up between stop signs and red lights and the uses we have on surrounding private property – lots of housing, school(s), some walk-up retail.

        This street used to have a street car on it and it is laid out for that pace of movement. People going 30 between stop signs don’t even average 20 mph because of all the curb cuts, turning motions, intersections, etc. that are in the way.

        When it comes fears about “reconfiguring streets” *ahem* we do it all the time, every day of the week, and have been doing it continuously since before Los Angeles was in the U.S. The current street design is not that efficient at moving motorists and it isn’t as safe as it could be; importantly, the street is also not that nice of a place to walk for a lot of reasons that have to do directly with how inefficient it is for motorists and unsafe it is for everybody.

        It is the prudent thing to look at the design of the street and how it affects user behavior. Duh!

        • I disagree, most folks driving recklessly in our community are regulars who live in the area. The effect of enforcement will not be short-lived. Proper timing of lights would be useful, Where are most people walking to? How many cyclists are using Ave. 50? I see zero most times I’m on it and it’s my route to the 110 and WORK. Duh!

          • “Most folks driving recklessly in our community are regulars who live in the area.” –> This is an unsourced claim. Do you have any information to back this up?

            “The effect of enforcement will not be short lived” –> Here is a review of literature I found in 5 seconds of Googling that refutes this claim:

            “Proper timing of the lights would be useful” –> Timing the lights to do what, exactly? Slow cars down or speed them up? The presence of lights themselves signal a great many things about a street. In some places on this earth (i.e. in the developed world of Fryslan in Netherlands) some streets don’t have traffic lights and are remarkably safe.

            “How many people are walking/bike riding/etc.?” –> You don’t measure how many people are swimming in a polluted pool to gauge demand for swimming pools. You don’t go to a riverbank and count how many car drivers are driving off it into the river to decide where to build a bridge. Why would you do the same with people walking and bike riding? Have an end goal and design for that outcome, I say, using some tried and tested techniques.

  7. Bike Lane Enthusiast

    Wake up folks! She was killed because of the war on bicycles that is raging in Highland Park. Cars kill people every day due to the lack of sufficient bike lanes. The solution-a car free city where every road is for bicycles only and cars are completely banned. Disabled people and overweight or out of shape people will have to be relocated to flat areas, like York Blvd, but we can make it work.

    • Bike lanes alone do not save lives – road diets do.

      A car-free city is not practical nor politically possible.

      Disabled and overweight people also have problems driving cars in the city as well and face many other problems beyond that even if they can drive.

      York Blvd. is not flat.

    • And that plumber coming to repipe your house? He is going to bike? The truck delivering construction materials? How many 2 X 4s can you bike with? The ambulance? Sure they can bike you to Verdugo Hills ER in cardiac arrest. These bike arguments always leave out the people who make a living by using a motorized vehicle…

      • Your statements are non sequitors.

        Here is my bicycle-centric response to your silly statements:

        “What car makes its driver healthier, measurably happier, and more connected to that drivers community? How many neighborhood friends can you make driving a car in the morning at 40 mph past everyones houses? How many local shops will you stop at with your car? What about when all the drivers clog up the roads and the ambulance can’t get through? What about all the air pollution?”

        Making a street safer and slowing down speeding drivers can ALSO make average travel times for cars a little faster. More importantly, why is car travel time so important given all the other things happening in a city? If you want to drive unimpeded, go to a racetrack. Cities are fundamentally about the good life – and while fast motoring speeds means “the good life” to some, human health and happiness, security in our bodily safety, connections with our neighbors and the larger community, financial resilience, participation in civic organizations; all of these things are much more important to a city than some flow rate of automobiles.

        Car-only sewers are not as safe as alternative designs. and don’t serve the real interests of city residents when installed everywhere.

        Cars do very well driving on special car-only roads between places, carrying heavy loads, etc. They are not so good when everyone hops in their private motor car and clogs the streets, nor during quiet times zooming around like wild animals running over grandmothers in front of their grandchildren (read above) or 80+ year old veterans crossing the street for a cup of coffee (William Matelyan in Cypress Park in July of this year), or young men out for a stroll in the wee hours (Erick Barboa in December of 2013), or a grandmother crossing the street with her family (Guadalupe Chavez who was killed and her 10-year old grand daughter and several other victims maimed in late January of 2014).

        So, please, stop with the red herrings. Nobody sane wants cars to go away. We can have safer streets that drastically lower the liklehood of horrific crashes. I know that you once witnessed someone jaywalk or saw a bike rider run a stop sign – but let it go and look at the bigger picture.

        • Exactly. No one sane wants all cars to go away but if you look at the post I responded to, that is exactly what the dude says:
          “The solution-a car free city where every road is for bicycles only and cars are completely banned.”

          My biking days are over. I will have to be relocated.
          “Disabled people and overweight or out of shape people will have to be relocated to flat areas, like York Blvd”

          Maybe there will be “relocation camps” for the disabled and elderly.

          So where is the red herring?

          • Hah! A relocation camp!?

            No, instead what we do is we mandate that any transit agency that runs a bus line in an area has to provide door to door service via Dial-A-Ride (ACCESS paratransit) van that costs just as much as the bus line does to run to pick up elderly and disabled people trapped in homes and lifestyles designed only for the middle aged, able bodied, and motoring public.

            We make the cost of a bus line double to take into account the private problems of people literally stuck up a cul de sac.

            So no, no camps, just a huge subsidy to pay for poor choices made by the prior generation and those unfortunate enough to be disabled and live in a hostile anti-human urban area.

    • She was killed because the driver of the car was not paying attention!

    • Bike Lane Enthusiast is one of those “physical elites” who think they are superior to everyone. This clown may be the one they interviewed on NPR the other day: moved here from New York, refuses to get a car, rides a bike, calls all drivers “fat and ugly” yet these morons are criminals who always break the law. I have never in my life witnessed a single bicyclist who stops for stop signs or red lights. Instead, they sail through, often crossing diagonally through intersections, sporting their “I support bike lanes” T-shirts and headphones. The next group to demand special lanes, special privileges, and special rights will be skate boarders. Ugh.

  8. This is not the first accident at this intersection or pedestrian being hit at San Marcos place & 50. This is the first fatal accident at San Marcos & 50, that I know of. been here since 1994 . At least 10 accidents a year at the intersection many are minor, so they don’t get much attention.

    We are beyond sadden and disappointed. We live on San Marcos Place, we and many neighbors have been requesting a stop sign be put in at San Marcos and Ave 50, first request was made in 2009 to Ed Reyes office, was forwarded to DOT.

    I hope they catch this guy quick.

    R.I.P .

  9. A person who runs someone down and leaves them in the road to die is committing a crime against humanity. Unfortunately, it happens more in L.A. than other places and the criminals are either not caught or given very light sentences. The LA Weekly wrote a good/ scary article about the “hit and run epidemic” a couple of years ago. http://www.laweekly.com/2012-12-06/news/los-angeles-hit-and-run-epidemic-4000-dead-injured/?showFullText=true

  10. I’ve lived in Highland Park for 27 years and pedestrian deaths, sadly, are nothing new. With the internet we just hear about them more. Cars speeding down Figueroa (south of Yosemite Drive) have killed several children over the years. And the kids weren’t crossing the street. They were playing or walking on the sidewalk. Los Angeles is a car-oriented city given its sprawl. How many people could bicycle from NE L.A. to Santa Monica or even downtown to work? The key here is that drivers need to abide by the rules, i.e., not speed, not talk/text while driving, stop at red lights and stop signs. Sounds simplistic, I know…

    • But even if you have to commute by car for work, I still don’t see why anyone needs to be driving any faster than 25mph on surface streets through densely populated urban neighborhoods? Isn’t that why we have freeways?

      As others have pointed out, a lot of these accidents are due to poor street designs that encourage speeding.

  11. Ideal is flashers embedded in the street at the stop, motion sensor-activated. Tech like this is worth every penny..

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