SEPULVEDA PASS (CBSLA.com) — A paparazzo was fatally struck by a car after taking photos of Justin Bieber’s white Ferrari during a traffic stop Tuesday, according to the Los Angeles Police Department.
Shortly before 6 p.m., California Highway Patrol officers had pulled over the Ferrari for allegedly speeding on the 405 Freeway near the Getty Center.
The 18-year-old Canadian singer was not in the vehicle during the traffic stop, LAPD Commander Andrew Smith reported. Officers say a friend of Bieber’s was driving the vehicle. TMZ claims that friend was rapper Lil Twist.
The paparazzo, who TMZ identified as 29-year-old Chris Guerra, reportedly parked his SUV on Sepulveda Boulevard and ran across the street to get a better view of the Ferrari as it sat parked on the freeway.
CHP officers twice asked Guerra to move away because the situation was unsafe.
Guerra eventually turned to go back to his car but was hit by an oncoming SUV before he could reach his vehicle. According to the LAPD, the photographer didn’t look before crossing the street.
Paramedics tried to resuscitate the photographer at the scene. He was pronounced dead at a local hospital.
The driver of the SUV stopped immediately and tried to help. The driver was not found to be at fault and did not show signs of being under the influence, according to the LAPD.
LAPD officers are investigating the man’s death.
“While I was not present nor directly involved with this tragic accident, my thoughts and prayers are with the family of the victim. Hopefully this tragedy will finally inspire meaningful legislation,” Bieber said in a statement.
Singer Miley Cyrus made her position on the situation known on Twitter:
Hope this paparazzi/JB accident brings on some changes in '13 Paparazzi are dangerous! Wasn't Princess Di enough of a wake up call?!— Miley Ray Cyrus (@MileyCyrus) January 2, 2013
It is unfair for anyone to put this on to Justin's conscious as well! This was bound to happen! Your mom teaches u when your a child not— Miley Ray Cyrus (@MileyCyrus) January 2, 2013
to play in the street! The chaos that comes with the paparazzi acting like fools makes it impossible for anyone to make safe choices.— Miley Ray Cyrus (@MileyCyrus) January 2, 2013
TMZ reported that Guerra was following Bieber’s car because he was “quite sure Justin had been smoking pot while driving earlier in the day,” according to a close friend of the photographer’s.
Photographer ThiBault Mauvilain came to the crash site to pay his respects.
“I know a lot of people say, ‘Oh, just another crazy paparazzo trying to make the money. Actually, he was not a paparazzo, he was just another kid from New Mexico,” Mauvilain said.
He confirmed the victim was a photographer.
Harvey Levin, executive producer of TMZ, told KNX 1070 NEWSRADIO a so-called “paparazzi law” may not be able to prevent a similar tragedy occurring in the future.
“I’ve always thought somebody was gonna die…I didn’t realize it was gonna be a photog,” Levin said. “The way some of these photogs chase these cars it’s almost inevitable.”
State lawmakers passed legislation that took effect in 2010 prohibiting paparazzi from taking illegal photos of people, particularly celebrities and other public figures who have a reasonable expectation of privacy.