Update: Arrest made in horrifying high-speed Highland Park fatal hit-and-run

North Figueroa was supposed to be safer by now.

Had LADOT been allowed to carry out it’s plans, the street would have undergone a road diet. Not just to install bike lanes, but to calm dangerous high-speed traffic.

Now a bike rider is dead, the victim of a speeding hit-and-run driver.

According to the LA Times, two bike riders were crossing Figueroa at Marmion Way in the crosswalk at 3:02 am when one was hit by car traveling at what police estimated as 80 mph, based on witness reports.

At that speed, there is virtually no chance of survival. Especially since the victim was dragged several hundred feet underneath the car as it sped away.

Witnesses say the driver never braked, before or after hitting the victim.

The second rider wasn’t struck. No word on whether they were riding or walking in the crosswalk.

The victim has not been publicly identified; he is described only as a man in his 20s.

The car’s bumper was left lying in the road, which should make the car easy to identify if it can be found. Police are looking for a small black sedan, possibly a Nissan Altima.

There should be an automatic $50,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the driver, based on the hit-and-run reward program recently passed by the city council.

Despite overwhelming support in public meetings, plans for a road diet to improve safety on North Figueroa were halted by Councilmember Gil Cedillo.

Cedillo claimed he was canceling the plans for safety reasons, an argument this morning’s wreck has proven wrong.

Now he has to answer to the victim’s family. And the rest of us.

This is the 34th bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the 15th in LA County; it’s also the eighth in the City of Los Angeles.

Update: An arrest has been made in the case.

According to KTLA-5, a witness tipped police to the location of the abandoned vehicle, which had biological matter from the victim on it.

That led them to 21-year old Alexis Virto, who was found asleep in bed with his girlfriend at 7:15 am, roughly four hours after the collision.

Virto was still drunk when he was taken into custody. He insisted that he wasn’t the driver; however, he had injuries consistent with a crash, and windshield debris clinging to his hair.

He was booked on suspicion of second-degree murder and felony drunk driving with great bodily injury.

The LA Times reports the victim is a 33-year old man, whose identity is being withheld pending notification of his family.

The Times also says there were 68 collisions that resulted in severe injuries to bicyclists on that stretch of North Figueroa between 2002 and 2012; there were also nine pedestrians killed in that time period.

Meanwhile, anti-bike Figueroa activist and Boulevard Sentinel editor Tom Topping had this to say:

Why was this person on the street at 3am? Usually only meth-head criminals looking for something to steal are riding around on bikes at that hour.

Update 2: The LA District Attorney’s office has finally identified the victim as Jose Luna, also known as Bizzy.

According to the press release, his alleged killer, Alexis Virto, has been charged with one count each of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, driving under the influence of an alcoholic beverage causing injury, driving with a .08% blood alcohol content causing injury and hit and run driving resulting in death or serious injury to another person. Not surprisingly, he entered a plea of not guilty to each count.

Virto reported drove the length of two football fields with Luna on the hood of his car.

My deepest sympathy and prayers for Jose “Bizzy” Luna and his family. 

Thanks to everyone who tipped me off to this story. And thanks to fig4all and Terri Moore for their help in IDing the victim.

10 comments

  1. Joshua Cohen says:

    How horrific. Condolences to this cyclist’s friends and family. Interested parties should check security cameras at nearby businesses. Do NOT count on the police to do so. Marc Caswell when he was in SF found security footage across the street from Amelie LeMoullac’s fatal collision that police said they had checked for and never did. Such footage generally gets re-recorded over within a few days, so time is of the essence. There’s a mini-mart at that intersection that may have footage and some businesses south that may as well. Friends and family in the area may want to poke their heads in and politely ask those proprietors to look at their footage from 3 am-ish. The longer anyone waits, the more likely such footage is to be lost. Good luck!

  2. james says:

    These cyclists were doing exactly what Cedillo & friends wanted them to do, riding on marmion instead of Figueroa and in the cross walk instead of the street, where they might have gotten in the way of a wanted road user

  3. JD says:

    Our prayers go up for the family and friends of the victim.

  4. What’s the word on getting Cedillo charges as an accomplice in this murder?

  5. mwandaw says:

    I’m glad to say that the local news organizations are reporting that a suspect was arrested. An LAPD officer said on KCAL at noon that they caught the guy within four hours. The officer said that they thought the suspect was DUI at the time he struck the rider and that he was still under the influence when they arrested him. KCAL showed video that looked like the suspect was blowing into a breathalyzer.

    Sadly, that doesn’t change the fact that a guy who seemed to be doing everything right is now dead. Our prayers and thoughts go out to his family and friends.

  6. Michael says:

    Wow, I would like to have a few choice words for Mr. Tom Topping. What an outstanding (disgrace, ignorant, waste) of a human being. My condolences to friends and family of the victim.

  7. Watch your backs cyclist. Those crazy motorists are out to kill us all. Stay out of the street. Ride on the side walk and you will live a long life. Mr-know-it-all

  8. Dina dodds says:

    The Man killed on June 26 at 3am in Highland Park was my friend JOSEPH not Jose. Can anyone help me correct this horrible mistake??? The photo and name being released are both entirely incorrect. His last name is NOT LUNA!!!!

    SOMEONE PLEASE HELP!!

    • bikinginla says:

      The announcement with his name came from the LA County DA’s office, which means they would have gotten it from the county coroner. So they would be the ones to contact to make a correction.

      Is it possible that he was using a false ID or going by another name? That’s not uncommon, and would explain any confusion.

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