Driver arrested in connection with fatal Highland Park hit-and-run [updated]

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HIGHLAND PARK – The LAPD is scheduled to hold a press conference at 2 p.m. today to discuss the arrest of the driver suspected of fatally striking a cyclist early this morning, said Ann E. Young, Commanding Officer of the LAPD Central Traffic Division, in a posting on Twitter.

The driver hit the cyclist at about 3 a.m. near Figueroa Street and Marmion Way, killing the rider who was dragged about 500 feet, according to CBS2. It’s not clear whether the cyclist, who was with another rider, was on his bike or on foot when struck crossing the street. The victim was described as a man in his early 20s.

Residents told ABC7 that a vehicle, possibly a dark-colored sedan, was racing down the street at about 80 miles per hour when it struck the victim. The bumper was torn of the vehicle but it never stopped.

Cycling advocates and Councilman Gil Cedillo have been at odds over adding bike lanes and other safety features to Figueroa. Last July, Cedillo indefinitely halted  plans to install  bicycle lanes on Figueroa Street in Cypress Park and Highland Park, a proposal that would have required the removal of a lane for motor vehicle traffic. It’s not clear, however, if bike lanes would have made a difference in this morning’s hit-and-run.

Update: The driver was identified as Alexis Virto, 21, according to an LAPD spokesman. He’s being held on $1 million bail.  KTLA reports that Virto was “heavily intoxicated and had had windshield debris in his hair and injuries that matched a crash.”

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    • He clearly drank too much.

    • According to his facebook photos, he’s a gang banging piece of garbage.

      • How exactly can you tell by his photos that he’s a “gang banging piece of garbage”? Because he’s young and brown?

      • I think his action is leading to a strong bias based on the way he looks to you. What if he was a 6”1′ white kid from the hills wearing khaki shorts and a salmon colored polo and a perfect white smile? What would you say then/how would you feel then? If you knew what real gangsters looked/acted like, you’d be more than happy to run into this kid rather than a real South Side gangmember if you were lost on the wrong side of town. The ignorant stereotype is real…

        • A 6’1″ white kid from the hills who went 3 times the speed limit on a residential street, blew through a stop light, killed someone, dragged their body for 500 feet, and then fled the scene of the crime, would also be a worthless, low life piece of human garbage.

          It just so happens, the person accused of this horrific crime happens to have a facebook page full of pictures of himself and his buddies throwing gang signs and drinking alcohol. Also, it appears that some of his family members are well aquainted with our local correctional faciilities. It is not a huge leap of faith to assume he is a gang banging piece of garbage.

          Is he as big of a supposed bad ass as the miscreants who roam the South Side of Chicago, Detroit, your Mom’s house? I don’t know. But I do know Los Angeles is better if people like him aren’t around.

          Dan Swanson, you may want to see if you can get a refund from Cal State LA, because your degree in liberal guilt is worthless.

        • What you know bout salmon polos b*tch ass Dan Salmon?!?!

        • What if he was a 6”1′ white kid from the hills wearing khaki shorts and a salmon colored polo and a perfect white smile? Then he wouldn’t have hit the cyclist.

  1. Kid looks like a drinking sk8erboi, where’s he a gangmember, cause he’s LATINO?

  2. Well how nice:

    Alex Virto
    31 August 2012 ·
    ” Just visited my Brother in the Twin Towers Correctional
    Facility ,Damn how much I love him & missed him ♥/: “

  3. Shame on you, Eastsider, for stating ‘it’s not clear if bike lanes would have made a difference’. They would not have, and you and everybody else knows it. Stop politicizing a tragedy.

  4. Throw him in prison and lose the key.

  5. This was entirely predictable, and Councilman Cedillo now has blood on his hands:


    Yes, it was a hit-and-run by an apparently drunk driver, but Cedillo’s attitude seems to be: “Let’s make it easier for drunk drivers and every other automobile out there to speed down Figueroa and injure and kill cyclists.”

    How much more blood will it take, Mr. Cedillo, to make Figueroa safe for all?

    • Culturally Unwelcoming

      oh for christ’s sake–like a “road diet” would have made any difference to a blind drunk idiot doing 80 on a surface street at 3 a.m. Kyle Watson’s post above is right on..

      Cedillo is a complete douche, though.

      • As if a road built for speed isn’t going to encourage speeding drunks to go even faster. Also, the cyclist was crossing the street, and under LADOT’s plan (that was blocked by Cedillo) there would have been one less auto traffic lane to cross.

        • Culturally Unwelcoming

          nobody doing 80 o a surface street needs any encouragement. stop making ridiculous surmises.

        • If you want to be disgusted by humanity, just pay a visit to the Figueroa For All facebook page. It is full of A-holes like the owner of the Flying Pigeon Bicycle shop. They are literally happier than George Bush on 9/11 as they scheme to try and turn the tragic events of last night to their advantage.

          Bike lanes and road diets would not have stopped a drunken douchebag from blowing through a red light at 80 mph.

          • You are incorrect, sir.

          • Really, one of your ineffectual road diets would have stopped last nights tragedy? I doubt it.

            As a property owner vested in the community, I look forward to helping to fund Councilman Cedillo’s reelection campaign.

  6. His whole FB is one whole long litany of mediocrity and a wasted life: blunts, community service, court, gang signs, drinking giant 40 oz beers, homeboys, blah blah. Now this kid’s alcoholism and poor choices have put one unfortunate cyclist in the ground, and let’s hope he gets a righteous prison sentence and not a slap on the wrist. Two young men’s lives gone. How fragile is life.

  7. All bike lanes do is delineate a path for 2-wheeled, non-motorized vehicles, much like car lanes delineate a path for motorized vehicles (wheel number optional).

    In all or most cases in our city, car and bike lanes are defined by a paint stripe. That’s it.

    Now, who was the bright bulb who scientifically reasoned that a stripe of paint is an effective barrier to keep cyclists, who on average, weigh 100-300 lbs., safely separated from vehicles that weigh 2 1/2-4 tons and who manage to cross over a painted striped line at a high enough frequency to kill other motorists, cyclists and pedestrians to the tune of almost 2800 in 2011. Between 2010 and 2012, there were 338 cyclists killed in that period, the highest total in the country.

    Until we can devise an effective physical barrier that provides safe separation, the vision of mass cyclists safely co-existing with motor vehicles and painted lane dividers is just a wet dream.

    • While this particular incident of extreme speeding may be a tragic outlier, the issue still stands that LA’s streets are indeed engineered for top speeds, and carnage happens quite predictably, day and night, at the hands of drunks and sober drivers alike. Even at 40mph (a common top speed on streets like Fig), cyclists and pedestrians only have about a 5% chance of surviving a collision.

      The crux of the problem is that urban streets, by nature, are very complicated spaces. People double park, they back into parking spots, they cross the street mid-block, they ride bikes and take the lane. The focus of urban street design should be on anticipating *all* of these regular occurrences, and calming traffic flow to appropriate speeds (20-25mph = 85% chance of surviving collisions.) This is quite common in a lot of major cities, and it’s proven to be much safer as it allows everyone enough time to react (just as we engineer highways to be forgiving of driver error and the unexpected, with wide lanes, gradual turns, shoulders, soft hit posts, guard rails, and pedestrians/cyclists removed from the equation alltogether.)

      This isn’t rocket science. Slow the top speed of the majority of cars to 20-25mph in urban neighborhoods, and you’ll reduce the number of deaths significantly. It’s not only about bike lanes (painted lines or dutch style cycle tracks); it’s also about lane widths, signal synchronization, frequent marked crosswalks, sharper corners at interstections, street trees and adjacent land use.

  8. Culturally Unwelcoming

    he was hit in a crosswalk, for fuck’s sake, bike lanes are utterly irrelevant to this..

  9. I want to start off by saying Alex is NOT a gang member. Those pics were from an old crew he was in. See the difference …crews are nothing compared to gangs . if you educated on how to tell the difference you’d know he’s not a gangster. You assumed. . Not a gang . just friends. I’m in no way shape or form condoning his decisions but he made a giant mistake that he will live with for the rest of his life and my condolences go out to the family of the victim. Alex was a good guy , just made a poor decision.

    • The Trader Joes employee, Michael was murdered a couple of years ago outside of the Gold Room by a tagging crew

    • Can’t they be “just friends” without being in a “crew” that emulates “gangsters” and scrawls their trashy little graffiti bullshit markings all over the place? Also, you do realize he hit someone wasted at 80mph on a surface street, dragged their body 500 feet, callously kept going, and then went to his girlfriend’s house and went to sleep? That’s way, way more than a “poor decision”, and it has to be said your bar for who is a “good guy” is depressingly low.

      • Yeah did you not read my comment clearly? I said an old crew he WAS in. You know past tense. And again, about not reading my comment thoroughly, I said I did NOT condone what happened in any shape or form. You know I just knew Alex , he was a nice guy not saying he was a saint. Just insane how people judge others just by looking at a few photos. Anyways, again my condolences go out to the victim and his family.

        • well, if the person he killed was a close friend of yours or one of your family members, you can bet your ass you wouldn’t be posting about knowing Alex and that he was a nice and good guy. i hope he rots in prison getting his just deserts.

          • I knew bizzy too , its horrendous what happened but I’ve said I didn’t condone what Alex did. He will do time and ultimately face his creator. So who are you to judge?

    • true. yeah I knew Alex from back in Franklin, he was pretty chill, but damn all bad.

    • Thanks to Alex my cousin is no longer here with us. hope he can live with that.

    • A poor decision would have been drunk driving. Dragging someone and then leaving them to die makes you a horrible person. No “good guy” is going to do that. A good guy who makes a poor decision stops the car and tries to save the life of the person they just tore to shreds.

  10. This isn’t about road diets or bike lanes.

    It’s about drunk driving and alcoholism.

    Rest in peace.

    • No, it’s about road diet and bike lanes because on streets with narrowed space for cars these types of crashes happen measurably less often and when they do they are less likely to be fatal. So, you are incorrect. There are drunks of lots of streets in the area – but only those that offer highway-style road designs between red lights have crashes like this.

      • This accident was caused a someone getting drunk and getting behind the wheel.
        No amount of bike lanes or road redesign would have stopped that and you know it.

        Please explain to me how a bike lane was going to prevent this? From the description of the driver, it sounds like it was a miracle he was even able to keep the car on the road at all!

        Stopping trying to use this terrible incident as a soap box for your political aims.
        It’s deplorable.

        And the irony of all this is that I regularly see you, the guy constantly screaming for bike safety, riding around the neighborhood without a helmet.

        Practice what you preach before you pontificate to the rest of us.

        • McNasty, you’re not very creative if you believe no amount of road design can stop someone from doing 80 mph on a city street. Chicanes, roundabouts, speed tables, rumble strips, speed bumps, and raised medians are among many techniques that are effective when the will to create safe roads exists. You would be correct in assessing that bike lanes and crosswalks alone do little to make safe passage when speeds are not managed.

          • @AVHIPSTER

            Would it make you happier if he hit him doing 40mph as opposed to 80mph?

            The point is the kid was drunk out of his mind.

            You guys can twist it around all you want, but someone should have taken that boy’s keys away before he got in the car to begin with.

        • “No amount of road striping would have prevented this” – except that road striping can prevent high speed crashes like this and does all the time. You have no factual basis for your assertion, I do. And if I have any political agenda it is to have the street I ride on daily made safer. I don’t know why it is so hard to accept the humanity of someone riding a bike, but many struggle in online comment sections with that. I am a human who rides a bike and I want the streets safer: that is my “political soap box”.

  11. It’s actually pretty sad for the victim and now drunk driver …I see what alcohol could do to a person , it turns many as the devil different person! I actually feel sorry for this guy but of course it’s tragic and worst for the innocent victim who died …but his youngster will learn his lesson in life …now he will be locked up for long time or life …pretty sad for a life to be tossed away all because of drinking …I bet many people here have risked drinking and driving and think this won’t happen but it could happen to anyone …I always say get a dam taxi Uber a ride sleep in your darn car don’t take chances but it took me a long time to mature and see things different in life and glad I quit my party days, and some people with drinking issues are super stubborn and end up learning the hard way ….Rip to the victim

  12. This is not the only neighborhood Councilman Cedillo represents that he has screwed over. He only won his seat by 700 votes with the help of the apathetic….I feel those 700 voters have learned what the “real” Councilman Cedillo
    is really like, and won’t be there next time….Lets find a new candidate to replace him on the next election.

    • So, how, exactly did Cedillo cause a little punk to get wasted and drive his car at 80 mph through residential streets?

      • He stopped a lane narrowing plan that would have kept this drunk punks speeding from reaching 80 miles per hour.

        • Culturally Unwelcoming

          you have no evidence–none, zero–that any such plan would have affected this idiot’s behavior at all.

          • On streets with narrower lanes, bulb outs, etc. drivers drunk and sober are less likely to speed and crash into things. It takes a highway-like design to be able to get up to the speeds this person was driving at. There is lots of evidence that road striping and other road diet treatments reduce crashes and save lives. Drunks speeding on an empty four lane plus center turn lane highway-style design is the inevitable outcome of poor design decisions by road planners.

    • His name was, and hopefully will be again, Jose Gardea.

  13. Your comments are shameful and ignorant. Zero to do with bike lanes. or Mr. Cedillo. The only one with blood on there hands is the Killer who decided to get behind the wheel while intoxicated.

    My condolences go at to the family who live on our street.

    • Lots of drunks driving around here but we rarely see them crash like this on Monte Vista at these speeds. Or do this on York at these speeds. Or get up to these speeds on Rowena. But we do see crashes like this on massive, multi-lane “streets” (more like highways with excessive intersection lights) in the area. Street design plays a massive role in the rate and severity of crashes, drunk or sober drivers respond to cues in the built environment.

      • Culturally Unwelcoming

        you rarely see them get up these speeds on Figueroa, either. stop pretending you can get inside the addled mind of a batshit drunk and say with authority what he’d have done in different circumstances.

        • I spend the majoirty of my life on Figueroa and I do see cares speeding on Figueroa. Just sitting in my shop looking out the window in the evening I see people get up to 50 or 60 on a regular basis inbetween Cypress and Marmion/Pasadena Avenue.

          Why do you think so many people showed up the other night at the vigil for this guy? Because we see the situation, we live the situation, on a daily basis and we want to see positive change.

  14. Poor kid never had a chance — whether mounted or dismounted, whether there was a bike lane or not, drunk drivers are attracted to lights, and I am assuming the cyclist had one on during his (last) ride, and it sounds as if the driver turned right on into him.

  15. A bike lane wouldnt have made a difference, Rest In Peace

    • A bike lane and narrower travel lanes have stopped crashes like this from occurring on lots of different streets in LA. Figueroa was going to have a similar plan to narrow lanes but Cedillo stopped it dead in 2014. Shortly thereafter and octagenarian was run over at Avenue 26 (google William Matelyan) and one year late this happened, along with the usual daily onslaught of crashes and injuries the street produces. No, this is very much a function of street design.

      • Culturally Unwelcoming

        you have no way of knowing that whatsoever.

        • Yes, I do. Because on similar streets that have been narrowed for motorists across the country the incidence of fatal collisions (with drivers drunk or sober) drops 25% or more. There are reams of data that reflect this. The Federal Highway Administration has found road diets to be an effective deterrent to crashes like this.

          What evidence do you have to back up your assertion that “nothing could be done” to prevent this type of mishap?

  16. Really Bike Nazi’s, you’re embarrassing yourself. Not only would a bike lane have not made a difference, if the victim was driving a car, he would probably also be dead. Almost no one in any kind of vehicle can survive being t-boned at 80mph.

  17. his facebook page has been deleted. for all of this outrage, think he will do more than 5 years actual time? that Bentley hit and run rich GGW guy from Australia did about a year for a similar crime. And the letter carrier that killed a judge’s son? So get used to the fact that these crimes go reasonably unpunished. jeez, 1 in 5 injury hit and run drivers are never even arrested in our city. heart goes out to the victim, I will donate to any fund his loved ones establish

  18. Carsmakepeoplestupid

    BIKE LANES & ROAD DIETS! You have a created a culture of automobile superiority where drivers feel that no one else is allowed on the road but them. Blood is on Cedillo’s hands and those that opposed bike lanes and traffic calming along Figueroa!

  19. What a sad occurrence I didn’t see the photo of the accused so I’ve got nothing to add to that. What’s truly troubling to me is the debates over if he is a gang member or not. What difference does that make. He still hit someone killed them and fled the scene that’s what we should be focusing on all this other stuff is just noise. Someone is dead and we are debating the accused affiliation with gangs or not. Keep the focus on the family who lost an one not side issues which basically discounts the value of a life lost.

  20. Honestly you can’t judge a book by its cover. Alex is my friend and will always be, he has made a huge mistake by doing what he did but we all make mistakes and just because you’re a certain race you should be profiled. We are all human and make mistakes now two years ago one of my friends was killed in a car crash on the freeway from a drunk driver coming the opposite way the man who hit them was a white man and till today they’re still trying to fight for justice the white driver is free but just because he’s white and my friend was Latino? Think about it now my friend Alex is in this for a huge mistake and he’s being judged because he’s Latino? Why is this world turning racial?

    • Quit your whining. He’s not being judged because he’s Latino. He’s being judged for being a drunk driving scumbag pussy who murdered someone and then left them to die as he fled the scene. He deserves every thing coming his miserable way.

      • who cares what his race is – he glorified drinking to excess and violence. To call this mistake diminishes the action. mistakes are forgetting to tie your shoes. this wasn’t the first time he got blasted and drove like he was on a speedway. your buddy is a piece of human garbage that was going to end up dead or in jail before his 25th birthday either way. it is sad that someone had to die. look around at your circle of friends and chooses well because up till now it seems you have chosen poorly.

    • Hit and run drivers, regardless of race, are scumbags. Hit and run drivers who hit someone and then leave them to die, do not deserve to live in society. If it was up to me, your friend would get the death penalty.

      Deoh, you have bad taste in friends.

    • People didn’t profile him because of his race. People profiled him because his (now deleted) Facebook page was full of pictures of Alex throwing signs, guzzling 40s, smoking blunts, and generally LOOKING the part of a “gangster”, even if he was not in fact a gang member. So what if he was just a wannabe, or was just a former member of a “crew”…at some level he glorified and idolized that lifestyle, and he broadcast that fact to the world via social media.

      HE put that self-image out for the world to see and judge…that’s ALEX’S responsibility. No one commenting here saw just some random Latino kid and threw that label on him for no reason. He applied it to himself, and then he followed through on it by doing the kind of stupid, awful, callous thing that you’d expect some dumbass gangster to do.

      YOU are in fact the one making this “racial” (sic).

  21. It is a sad story making it a racial issue is absolutely ridiculous, saying he was a good guy is ridiculous. When shit gets real bad you see the true character of people, and his POS character came full on. Further proof is the denying at first when the police showed up to his girlfriends house and his discarded car. You mutilated somebody, their leg was torn off and you have the balls to go home and sleep? The genius had glass in his hair and was still denying it.
    If he wasn’t in” real” “gang life” he is going to get a taste at twin towers where the population doesn’t take kindly to acts of cowards.
    As for the comments directed towards the owner of Flying pigeon, shame on you for deriding someone practicing their right as an American citizen to participate in political debate. A person practicing community activism and being active in the community is to be encouraged. There are far too many people that reside in NELA that let city council members get a free pass suck of the tit of your tax dollars. LA city council members are some of the highest paid in the country and guess who voted for that? Themselves .

    • “You mutilated somebody, their leg was torn off and you have the balls to go home and sleep? The genius had glass in his hair and was still denying it.”

      He probably didn’t remember hitting anyone, and was too drunk to care when he got to the GF’s house.

  22. So sad ….I’m confused to who the victim is though because some people put “bizzy” Riley Escobar on Facebook and have his picture where the victim was hit yet the news put José luna? I’m assuming its José since its on the news correct?

    • Thankyou for noticing this huge error!!! They are so wrong. His name Was joseph but we all called him bizzy bone because he looks like bizzy from bone thugs but biz liked to call himself Riley Escobar from his favorite boon docks cartoon character.

      R. I. P. Joseph

  23. I am sorry but the coroner cannot release the deceased information if he is not sure, they cannot do that if it is not the victim and the article said the name of the victim would not be released until contacted with the family.

  24. The news put the wrong picture of some guy name jose luna ? But any ways we called him wicho short for Mauricio just like is father who had happend to pass away 3 months before this accident. We still cant belive this. And for alex virto and all the people who is defending him go to hell, hope you get life you piece of shit.

  25. I was in custody with him cool guy
    Just made a mistake to drink n drive

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