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As friends, family mourn cyclist killed by speeding driver in South LA, deaths rack up

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In less than a week, three more people have died in hit-and-runs

LAPD is offering a $50,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the driver who struck and killed Frederick Frazier.
Matt Tinoco

The Los Angeles Police Department released video Tuesday of a lethal hit-and-run in South Los Angeles that has rattled the region’s bicycling community.

The video shows the driver of a white Porsche Cayenne hitting 22-year-old Frederick Frazier, known as Woon to his friends, from behind on April 10 as he rode his bike on Manchester Boulevard, near Normandie Avenue.

Police say the video also shows the driver, who fled the scene, was “no doubt” speeding.

Experts say the odds of surviving a crash are greatly impacted by speed. It’s one of the reasons why city transportation planners are trying to get drivers in LA to slow down.

It has been a deadly and emotional week for LA’s bicycling community. The day after Frazier was killed, another hit-and-run driver plowed her vehicle into a memorial ride organized by his friends and family, hospitalizing 25-year-old Quatrell Stallings of Los Angeles.

Stallings’ injuries weren’t life-threatening. But in less than a week since that crash, three more people—two on bikes and one in a wheelchair—were killed after they were hit by cars in South Los Angeles.

On Friday night, a driver struck and killed 52-year-old Alfredo Ortiz while he walked in the crosswalk at the intersection of Imperial Highway and Figueroa Street. The driver didn’t stop.

Early Sunday morning, 57-year-old Gregory Moore was struck and killed by another hit-and-run driver while crossing the intersection in a wheelchair at Century Boulevard and Main Street.

Early Monday morning, a driver struck 60-year-old Christopher White as he rode his bicycle at Century and Avalon boulevards. White was then run over by other drivers, “all of which left the scene,” reports the Los Angeles Daily News.

According to the Los Angeles Times, all three crashes were hit-and-runs.

At a press conference Tuesday, LAPD announced a $50,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the hit-and-run driver who struck Frazier. Police also released images and video of the vehicle that killed Frazier and of the suspected driver.

The most powerful moments came during a commanding speech from Beverly Owens, Frazier’s mother, who moved police and reporters to tears.

“My child was 22 years old, and he was in the prime of his life. He worked full time, and he could have driven his car, but he wanted to get his miles in so he chose to ride his bike,” she said. “He didn’t deserve to die because he wanted to ride his bike.”

Owens said her son started riding a bike after he was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes.

“My baby worked, and he took care of us. Every two weeks when he got paid, that’s how we paid our rent. That’s how we survived. He took care of us,” she said.

Owens also urged the driver of the Porsche to come forward.

“Do the right thing, because from the depths of my soul ’till I die and God calls me back to be with my child, I will be looking for you at every breath I’ve got,” she said. “God sees you, and he knows. He knows.”

“When the smoke clears, when the cameras leave, when everybody leaves. I’m at home with nobody, with my baby gone. All I had of value in this whole gummy, disgusting, low-down earth, you took it away. And I guarded it with my life. I guarded it the best I could. And you killed him.”

Friend Keiven Muñoz said Frazier’s death, and the collision at his memorial that injured Stallings, have galvanized a broad swath of South LA’s bike community to fight for safer streets.

“Right now, all the cyclists are trying to stand up and trying to get attention from city hall,” said Muñoz. “We’re doing all this, but not many people are really catching the intention of what we’re doing. They’ve got to understand that people’s young ones, they’re going to sooner or later get interested in riding bikes. They’re going to be riding in the streets, and we want better and safer streets with bike lanes for them.”

Tuesday’s press conference came a day after Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti’s state of the city address. Safe streets activists have criticized the mayor for not using that platform to address the city’s efforts to reduce the number of pedestrians, bicyclists, and drivers who are killed in traffic crashes on LA’s streets.

In 2015, Garcetti issued an order to eliminate traffic deaths on LA’s streets by 2025 under a plan called Vision Zero.

But the initiative has had a slow start, and a number of Vision Zero projects have faced backlash from residents, leading some city leaders to walk back support for some Vision Zero projects. Meanwhile, the number of pedestrian deaths caused by traffic crashes in Los Angeles has since soared by more than 80 percent.

Later on Tuesday, the mayor’s office announced it will recommend more than tripling the Vision Zero budget to $91 million annually.

“Our streets are not safe or healthy. They will never be until action is taken and people walking and biking are given the same rights as people in vehicles,” says Dana Variano, spokesperson for the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition.