LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Community members and police say the intersection of Slauson and Western is one of the most dangerous in Los Angeles.
Members of the organization SAFE gathered on Sunday to raise awareness of traffic violence and demand safer streets.
“I wish the circumstances were different,” said Bibiana Diaz. “I wish I wouldn’t have to be up here speaking up for a loved one that I lost.”
Diaz fought back tears while speaking about her stepfather, who was killed by a hit-and-run driver while she and her younger siblings were out for a family bike ride this summer in South L.A.
“We were turning into our driveway when I heard the loud impact, and I turned around to see my dad in the air and my little sister sliding across the pavement. I couldn’t believe my eyes. I was the first responder on the scene. I had to pick up the baby. I had to call 911, while the man just fled the scene,” Diaz recalled.
LAPD arrested a suspect in the hit-and-run death last month, however, police say there has been a staggering 29% increase in traffic-caused fatalities and injuries in South L.A. this year so far in 2020 compared to 2019.
Additionally, there have been close to 5,000 hit-and-run collisions in 2020, police said.
Stephanie Vasquez was one of the victims and had to have her leg amputated as a result while she grapples with the fact that the driver is still out there.
“I have to live with this for the rest of my life. I didn’t choose to do this,” Vasquez said. “I didn’t choose for this to happen in my life and I want to open awareness to those people who have gone through hit-and-runs and accidents who have experienced this and who can’t open up about their crimes. I want to be the voice for them.”
The rally on Sunday called for drivers to slow down, avoid texting and driving, and to always pull over, render aid and call 911 if you hit someone.
The organization, SAFE, is also asking for stricter laws when hit-and-runs happen, and for the installation of speeding cameras around the most dangerous intersections throughout South L.A.