BUENA PARK (CBSLA.com) — What was intended to be a night of celebration soon turned terribly wrong for one family in Buena Park.
In April, Marisa Malin celebrated her 73rd birthday alongside family members at Farrell’s Ice Cream Parlour.
Because it was a busy night, they waited outside to be seated.
During this time, an older driver pulled into a handicapped space facing the restaurant and reached down to grab the disabled placard that was on the floor of the car.
As he reached down, his foot hit the gas pedal, which caused the vehicle to accelerate rapidly through a decorative steel fence and into the waiting area.
Subsequently, Malin was killed, and her 15-year-old granddaughter, Isabel Manalo, was critically injured by a handicap sign pole that fell on her head and fractured her skull.
“My grandma was a wonderful person,” Isabel said. “She loved life a lot. She loved me and my sister and my brother and my cousin.”
CBS2’s Stacey Butler spoke with Malin’s son-in-law, Artesia City Councilman Victor Manalo, who said he wants safety barriers to be made mandatory across the state.
“Her skull was crushed in 20 different places,” said Manalo of Isabel. “She could have died. That’s how serious it was.”
This tragic loss, however, has not been the first storefront accident in Southern California.
While no federal data is kept, in a 12-month study, Los Angeles-based nonprofit investigative news organization FairWarning found nationally that at least 16 people were killed and 587 people were hurt, 121 of them seriously, in crashes into storefronts or adjacent properties.
Manalo explained he is introducing an Artesia city ordinance that would require new construction to install safety barriers in front of head-in parking areas that face a storefront.
“As far as I know, this will be the first ordinance of its type in the U.S.,” Manalo explained. “It [is there] to protect their storefronts and to protect the people who are going into their stores.”
In fact, Farrell’s Ice Cream Parlour has taken precautions to prevent accidents like these from happening in the future.
Farrell’s CEO Mike Fleming took only a matter of days to install 12 safety barriers.
Both Fleming and Manalo say that possible opposition could be the cost to small businesses.
Fleming explained each barrier costs about $500 each to install, which he called “a small price to pay.”
“In an area where it involves public safety, there is no compromise to me,” Fleming said. “It’s my mission now, for the rest of my life, to make sure that this doesn’t happen at any other business.”
Since August, there have been at least three storefront accidents reported in Pacoima, Laguna Hills and Canoga Park.