LOS ANGELES (CBS) — He came to the City of Angels 30 years ago with big dreams of making it in the local aviation industry.
Gary Woodford, rolled into town with a few buddies sharing the same goal. But it never happened and instead he lived off of what his mother, Irene Woodford, described as “odds and ends”.
A few years later, Woodford had a harder time making a living because of a back injury. He also had an alcohol problem. Eventually, he ended up homeless in North Hollywood.
Woodford never told his mother about his situation.
On March 14 Gary’s life ended tragically. According to L.A. Weekly , the details of his fate was blacked out, unofficially.
If the information did emerge it would most definitely have created headlines.
L.A. Weekly reports that Manuel “Manny” Figueras, a field deputy to City Councilman Richard Alarcon, ran down Woodford while driving his city-owned Prius.
Woodford’s best friend, who identifies himself as “Jacko,” was there for Woodford’s final moments.
“I had looked both ways, I had ahold of his forearm, because he’s old. I get him all the way across and I’m stepping on the curb,” Jacko tells L.A. Weekly . He said that “this car comes flying from the middle lane and hits him.”
Woodford was thrown onto the car’s windshield and then onto the street. He was only two steps from the curb — and safety.
Figueras stopped after striking Woodford and called 911. But witnesses tell L.A. Weekly that he didn’t try and stop Woodford’s bleeding but, instead, went to his car to fidget with something on the dashboard.
Jacko tended to his friend as the authorities were coming to assist: “I was holding him, and I told him, ‘Papa, you’re going to die.’ I said a prayer for him – and that was it.”
When paramedics finally did come, Jacko tells L.A. Weekly that Figueras “acted like he was in charge of the fire department,” and gave Jacko his card.
After the accident, an LAPD traffic officer wrote up a press release, but it was never made public. Stranger occurrences followed — for one, the Los Angeles Times knew about the story but didn’t pursue it.
High-ranking LAPD press officers Andy Neiman and Andrew Smith had no idea about the accident until L.A. Weekly called with questions in June.
Alarcon never revealed what he knew about the tragedy but thinks the news blackout was an accident, stating to L.A. Weekly, “I don’t know how you’d keep it under wraps, such a horrible tragedy.”
The councilman has not reached out to Woodford’s family, because “the police indicated the man was possibly a homeless person. I never heard back from the police there was any family.” He tells L.A. Weekly.
L.A. Weekly reports that Alarcon has only been recently informed about the victim’s family and will be sending his condolences soon. He said he was disappointed that he wasn’t informed sooner about the LAPD locating them.
As for Woodford’s family, they said they were still distraught about losing Gary.
In an interview with The L.A. Weekly, Gary’s sister Susan said that “All we’re looking for is answers.”