The Heartache Of Hit And Runs In L.A. - Los Angeles News | FOX 11 LA KTTV

From Anchor Tony McEwing

The Heartache Of Hit And Runs In L.A.

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Los Angeles is frequently cited as the traffic congestion capital of the nation. It is a reality most of us Angelenos know all too well. But the place whose name loosely means City of Angels, is becoming notorious for another, much darker reality that is anything but divine. While L.A. is seeing a significant reduction in most other serious crimes, sadly, hit and run accidents are up dramatically, with many of the collisions resulting in serious injury or death.

Just this morning, authorities reported yet another fatal hit and run crash, this latest one killing a woman in Hollywood. And while the details are still under investigation, hitting someone, then hightailing it with no regard for the death or destruction one may have caused is not just criminal, it's unconscionable. But it's happening a lot.

According to the LAPD, an incomprehensible 20,000 hit and runs occur in Los Angeles every year. A staggering 48% of the accidents in the city in 2009 were hit and runs. Compare that to the national average of just 11%. Those collisions result in the death or serious injury of approximately 92 pedestrians, 22 bicyclists and 40 motorists. What's more, the epidemic may be even worse than the stats indicate. Critics claim the LAPD report uses unorthodox methodology  to analyze the collected data. And the police department admits it doesn't bother including the information if the hit and run doesn't involve an injury or if no city property is damaged.

Despite the debate about hit and run statistics, how they're compiled or possible solutions, we sometimes forget the real pain underlying the mind-numbing numbers. On September 16th, 26 year old Emanuel Ayala was killed while crossing Pacific Coast Highway near Wilmington. His untimely death left his 4-year old daughter without a father and a family still struggling to understand why the driver didn't even bother to stop.

The crisis is so bad, a city councilman is introducing a motion today to create a "standing reward" for anyone providing information leading to the capture and conviction of hit and run perpetrators. The state legislature has already passed a bill  extending the statute of limitations for hit and run cases from three years to six years. That bill is now sitting on the governor's desk awaiting his signature. Meanwhile, the human misery of hit and runs in the City of Angels continues to mount.

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