By Ryan Gierach, West Hollywood, California
God may watch over fools and drunks, but West Hollywood is a decidedly secular place, meaning all bets are off.
Last night, in the street near the corner of Larabee and Santa Monica, an obviously drunk man attempting a weaving crossing was struck by a car in the minutes after 2:00 am.
Grant Smith, a local DJ, reports that he saw the accident as it happened.
“So walking home from playing at the Mother Lode, I just saw some guy get hit in the street crossing Santa Monica Blvd.
“He was not crossing at one of the crosswalks, he was crossing at Larabee and across from the police station, where there is no crosswalk,” he related, recalling another deadly pedestrian accident that took place just days ago east of Hancock on the same stretch of bars.
Mr. Smith then related his impressions of the accident itself.
“The car hit him, I could see him flip over in the air, and he landed with a big “crack” sound, like he landed on his head and his skull had been broken,” he wrote.
West Hollywood Sheriff’s Station confirmed the incident, with the watch commander mentioning several eyewitnesses concurring on what they saw, a stumbling drunk crossing a major highway between crosswalks at 2:00 am got hit by a car.
Pedestrian accidents have been occurring at an increasing pace since city council candidate Larry Block began his Cross Safe WeHo campaign to further mechanize and illuminate signage on the street.
Launched in response to a mid-day non-injury pedestrian accident at San Vicente and Santa Monica Boulevards saying in their first post, “there seems to be accidents weekly. Its just not safe.”
The stated goal of the group is to capture the attention of auto drivers at places where pedestrians cross Santa Monica Boulevard with increased and better illuminated signage, as well as admonitions to pedestrians to keep safe.
The city has promised to install an automated light system at one of the affected intersections, but re-thought the matter, but upon examination, it came to light that other, more effective solutions might be found.
Larry Block is complaining about the council’s and city hall’s failure to install a portable rapid flashing beacon signs in February, which have not yet been installed. He also suggested placing portable Special Events sign. “Where is the Special Events sign?”
He added that the between the flashing light signs and the failure to place the Special Events sign means that “the city has done nothing! They have not installed the flashing lights, they did not put up the temporary Special Events sign as a temporary measure.”
As we have reported here last week, a mechanized solution to the problem of pedestrian accidents can sometimes have the reverse effect of making the intersection safer.
According to the Federal Highway Administration’s Research, Development and Technology center’s annual Safety Effects of Marked Versus Unmarked
Crosswalks at Uncontrolled Locations CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS:
“The study results revealed that under no condition was the presence of a marked crosswalk alone at an uncontrolled location associated with a significantly lower pedestrian crash rate compared to an unmarked crosswalk.
“Furthermore, on multilane roads with traffic volumes greater than 12,000 vehicles per day, having a marked crosswalk was associated with a higher pedestrian crash rate (after controlling for other site factors) compared to an unmarked crosswalk.
“Therefore, adding marked crosswalks alone (i.e., with no engineering, enforcement, or education enhancement) is not expected to reduce pedestrian crashes for any of the conditions included in the study.”
That study’s results and others have led WeHo News to recommend a more creative solution to the problem – crossing guards.
The stretch of Santa Monica Boulevard between San Vicente and just east of Hancock has seen four fatalities over the past 18 months. In late January, 2013 two men, one named Jerry, age 81, (his family declined to give his full name) and his good friend Reza (Ray) Ashouri, age 50, were struck in front of the Metro bus station in a crosswalk by a maintenance driver moving an empty bus.
Both men landed in the hospital, but were removed from life support in the following days.
According to the manager of Trunks, Vince Cartelli the accident hit him personally hard, “They were friends of mine; I knew them from Silver Lake bars where I used to work. They would come in three or four nights a week.”
He said that the regulars at the bar in the Boystown area of West Hollywood, “are torn up over this.”
Noting that the partners were “social drinkers only,” he asserted that alcohol played no role in the accident.
Saying that Ray was guiding Jerry, who walked slowly and with a shuffle, until, “They were just a foot or two east of the actual crosswalk, you know, how people will angle toward where they are going, and bus swerved to miss them, but caught them with the right corner.”
Another deadly accident, on May 13, 2013, cost the life of Mehmet Tasci, who also was crossing Santa Monica southbound when struck by a car. It remains unclear if alcohol played a role in the accident.
Then, after a 14 month interregnum and scarcely 10 weeks after Mr. Block’s making cross walk safety a political issue, Clint Bounds, a denizen of the clubs who would sit drinking and enjoying the company of the other customers and the go-go boys and bartenders he patronized, walked drunkenly across Santa Monica Boulevard east of Hancock (outside the crosswalk) and was struck down by a car, dying on the scene.
The calls for more signage and more lighting and more education about pedestrian safety have become amplified, and promise to increase in intensity and volume in the aftermath of this latest minor accident.
Grant Smith feels that more must be done nationally, perhaps an ad campaign, to call attention to the problem of pedestrian safety. He also acknowledges that crossing guards
What is left to the city council is a decision on how quickly to move toward the candidate’s position and install additional markings, lights and signals in the street at that point, or to rely on expert advice, scientific studies and creative thinking to solve what could be an existential problem for West Hollywood’s Boystown.
Will Boystown survive many more pedestrian deaths?
Maybe God doesn’t care if you’re a believer any more than if you are a fool or drunk.