By Hal Collier, Retired LAPD
Every once in a while, you see a news story of a pedestrian who is hit by a car. The TV news shows a pair of shoes in the street. I was first intrigued by why the shoes were left in the street. I sadly learned that when pedestrians were hit by a car they were actually knocked out of their shoes. This is my story of shoes in the street.
As always, I’m working grave yard and it’s about 2:15 AM. I’m driving my black and white eastbound on Hollywood Boulevard as I approach the famous hot dog stand at Hollywood and McCadden. The hot dog stand is famous only to Hollywood cops, bottom feeders and dispatchers. If you needed help and gave the location as the hot dog stand, the dispatcher knew where to send help. Prostitutes, drug dealers and anything else out after 2 A.M. frequent the hot dog stand to ply their trade or support someone else’s tax-free business. When I was walking my foot beat, I made most of my arrests around the hot dog stand. Some even bought the hot dogs, I hear they were pretty good. I never had one, Pink’s had a nicer clientele.
So, as I approach the cross walk I see a pedestrian, about a 20-year-old male, walking southbound. Now, I’m in the #2 lane (2nd lane from the center) which means the #1 lane is unobstructed. I could have gone through the crosswalk without interfering with the pedestrian but I thought this would be a good opportunity to yield and check out the patrons of the hot dog stand. I stopped and my attention was on one individual who seems particularly nervous. He could likely be a candidate for an investigation.
As the pedestrian continued to cross I suddenly hear a car to my left! I only had time to say “oh!” The car hit the pedestrian at about 30 miles an hour.
I’ve heard many stories that when encountering a stressful situation your brain slows everything down. I’m here to tell that is true. I saw the car hit this poor young boy and it was all in very slow motion. I still have that image of that boy being slingshot down Hollywood Boulevard, leaving his shoes in the crosswalk.
The car that just hit this kid immediately pulled to the curb. My partner went and got the driver out and I ran to the kid lying in the middle of the street. He was still alive but not responsive. He died soon after, right in the middle of Hollywood Boulevard, his shoes left in the middle of the crosswalk.
My story should end right there but unfortunately it doesn’t. A few days, later I got a phone message from some lady I didn’t know. I called and it was the boy’s mother! She bluntly asked me, “Did my son say anything before he died?”
I lied and told her, “No he didn’t say anything. He died instantly and didn’t suffer.” I still think I made the right decision.
For quite a while after that night as I approached crosswalks I feverishly scanned for pedestrians. Fail to Yield to Pedestrians in a Crosswalk became my favorite ticket. A traffic unit handled the investigation and I never heard if the driver that hit the boy was drunk or what happened.
If there is a lesson to be learned, this is it. Even if you’re in a crosswalk, watch for traffic. I see people on the news all the time in marked crosswalks that have been hit by cars. It won’t make a bit of difference if you’re in the right of way but dead!