Police in Santa Monica are searching for a driver who fatally struck an electric scooter rider before fleeing the scene Friday.
The identity of the 41-year-old victim hasn’t yet been released, but police say that he was riding a personal scooter, rather than one of the dockless devices that have proliferated in the city since companies like Bird and Lime began depositing them on sidewalks there in 2017.
According to police, the victim fell off the scooter prior to the crash and was hit while recovering from the fall.
The driver, described as a six-foot-two white man in his 30s, reportedly stopped briefly and exited his vehicle before leaving the scene, on Third Street in Ocean Park. The victim died at a nearby hospital.
In the last two years, scooters—and their riders—have become a regular sight in Santa Monica, where the rentable scooters average three or four rides per day. The deadly collision Friday appears to be the first in the city involving an electric scooter.
A medical study released earlier this year found that emergency rooms at two hospitals in the Los Angeles area (including UCLA Medical Center Santa Monica) nearly 250 patients were treated for scooter-related injuries during a one-year period.
Most of the injuries were mild enough that patients were sent home after treatment, though two head injuries were severe enough that patients were taken to intensive care. Less than 10 percent of injuries were caused by a collision with a motor vehicle.
Deaths related to scooters have also been rare in the greater Los Angeles area, though the Santa Monica crash Friday wasn’t the only deadly incident in Southern California last week. In San Diego, 53-year-old Georgia resident Christopher Conti died after crashing into a tree while riding a Bird scooter.
Neither Conti or the victim of the Santa Monica hit-and-run were reportedly wearing helmets while riding—though as of January, California law no longer requires scooter riders to wear them.