Another vehicle-versus-pedestrian fatality was reported overnight, adding to the death toll from L.A.'s hit-and-run epidemic.
See also: L.A.'s Bloody Hit-and-Run Epidemic.
A man in his 40s was walking outside an Encino crosswalk early this morning when he was struck by a black SUV that did not stop, according to the LAPD's Valley Traffic Division:
It happened about 12:15 a.m. on Ventura Boulevard at Gaviota Avenue, according to the department. The victim was walking westbound when he was hit, cops said.
The driver of the SUV, possibly a black Cadillac Escalade, fled, police said. Witnesses said the license plate might have started with the numeral 6.
According to an LAPD statement:
The vehicle sustained collision damage to the right front and it was last seen fleeing eastbound Ventura Blvd then northbound Haskell Ave.
Paramedics rushed to the scene, but it was too late: The man was dead, police said. His identity was withheld until loved ones could be notified.
Councilman Joe Buscaino, who has proposed a standing, $50,000 reward for all hit-and-run cases, issued this statement today:
I am deeply saddened and disturbed that a third hit and run fatality has occurred over the span of the last three weeks.
While the City of Los Angeles is taking immediate action to address this ongoing problem, I call upon the state legislature to stiffen the penalties for hit and run crimes, making them equivalent in seriousness to DUI offenses.
A traffic accident is not a crime. It becomes a crime the moment you leave the scene and fail to render aid to the victim and fail to take responsibility for your actions. We must do everything we can to change the culture of driver apathy in Los Angeles, where motorists continue to display a lack of responsibility and concern, leaving a human being out in the street to die.
Cops are searching for that SUV with front-end damage. If you know where it might be, traffic officers would love to hear from you: (818) 644-8022.
[Update at 11:35 p.m.]: Cops tonight said 26-year-old Grant James Valentine is the suspect they've been looking for, and he's in custody. According to an LAPD statement he was booked suspicion of felony hit and run at the Van Nuys jail. His bail? $50,000.