[UPDATE: for more information on this accident, including a report on the condition of the injured cyclists, interviews with victims and witnesses, status of the DUI charge and more, please see this post in Bikeside.]
Regarding the recent tragic collision on Jefferson and Hetzler early in the morning on Thursday, June 16th, the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition (LACBC) and Culver City Bicycle Coalition (CCBC) are concerned about the preliminary report prepared by City of Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) citing pedestrians in the roadway as the cause of the collision.
While the people on and with bicycles were in a portion of the roadway, the fact that the driver was unable to recognize a group of 40 or more people in the roadway and take evasive action to brake, slow down or change lanes is the real issue. Allegations that the cyclists may have been at fault due to the dark clothing they were wearing or street-lights that weren’t functioning are misleading and a distraction from the facts. It cannot be emphasized enough that the driver of the motor vehicle has been charged with driving under the influence and a hazard to all road users and that, in this case, people on bicycles were the victims. The results of the investigation must be viewed with this in mind.
LAPD has conducted the initial investigation and will be handing this case over to the City of Culver City Police Department. The collision happened in Culver City, but the first responders were LAPD and the boundary between the two cities was not clear to the two agencies at the time of the collision.
We urge the City of Culver City to dedicate all possible resources to ensure a thorough and accurate investigation in a timely manner. In light of the recent incident we hope the City will work with Los Angeles County to do everything within their power to improve the lighting on Jefferson and work to improve the roadway to create safer vehicle speeds. This is an opportunity for the City of Culver City to show leadership and dedication to creating a community that protects the lives of people walking and bicycling.
We have been able to confirm the following:
The driver had a .08 alcohol level with a pass test at the scene, when breathalized at the station she was at .07. The driver has been charged with a misdemeanor DUI with a bail set at $15,000. According to LAPD the driver had a clean drivers record, with no prior incidents.
Eleven people were injured, one remains in serious critical condition in a medically induced coma due to severe head trauma.
Witness statements are still being collected and we encourage folks to contact CCPD or LAPD if they have not given their statement. Contact Sgt. David Krumer at LAPD and he will ensure your statement is taken and given to the investigating officers.
We have concerns and would like more clarification about the following:
As we stated above we feel the cause of the collision cited by LAPD does not take into account the responsibility of the driver. If the driver had been sober and had her eyes on the road, spotting a group of 40+ people in a travel lane would have been possible. The lack of responsiveness, evasive action, failure to slow down or brake, shows a lack of cognition, sobriety, and attention to the roadway.
We also urge the media to report accurately and not to perpetuate misinformation.
We will work with the entire bicycle community to make sure the health and welfare of the people injured are provided for and that this collision is a priority for the CCPD and the City of Culver City. The Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition and the Culver City Bicycle Coalition urge all road users, whether they be on foot, two wheels, or in a car to act responsibly. Our thoughts and prayers are with all that were injured, we wish everyone a speedy recovery.