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.
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.