Detective Dies on Same Street as Officer Killed in March; Chief in ‘Disbelief’

An off-duty LAPD officer was killed in a crash with a cement truck that occurred Friday on the same curving Beverly Hills street where another LAPD officer lost his life in a collision two months earlier.

crash9

Investigators were on the scene of a crash that left an off-duty LAPD officer dead May 9, 2014, in nearly the same spot where another officer died two months before. (Credit: KTLA)

The cement truck collided with another vehicle on Loma Vista Drive just before 2 p.m. Friday, killing one person in the car, Beverly Hills Police Department Sgt. Max Subin said. The driver of the cement truck was hospitalized, he said.

The victim was an off-duty Los Angeles Police Department detective with more than 25 years in the force, and he was driving his personal vehicle, Chief Charlie Beck said at a 6 p.m. news conference. The name of the detective was not released pending notification of his family.

“I have known him for several decades. He’s a fine family man and he will be sorely missed by his friends and by the members of the Los Angeles Police Department,” Beck said.

It appeared the cement truck was traveling downhill and southbound, lost control, crossed the double-yellow line and hit the detective’s vehicle, Beck said.

flag

Officers on scene saluted the flag-drapped gurney that held their fellow LAPD officer’s body on May 9, 2014. (Credit: Sheldon Slaten)

The incident marked the fourth death of an LAPD officer in a traffic collision in just over two months. The crash occurred some 25 yards from the spot where Officer Nicholas Lee was killed March 7, Beck said.

“I was stunned into disbelief when I got the phone call and they gave the location. I asked, I called back, I drove out here myself, and I still didn’t believe it. It’s just too horrific for words,” Beck said.

Also, the crash was the third serious collision on Loma Vista Drive in about two months, coming one week after another cement truck overturned on the steep roadway, which runs through a neighborhood of multimillion-dollar homes. The crashes all took place near Greystone Mansion, the Beverly Hills landmark.

Residents who live on the street said they were frightened.

“I drive this … every single day and I think the city should do something about this because this is not OK,” resident Ingrid Bishop said.

The city will place a 30-day moratorium on heavy traffic on the street, Beverly Hills police Chief David Snowden said at the news conference.

chiefs

Beverly Hills police Chief David Snowden and LAPD Chief Charlie Beck at the news conference. (Credit: KTLA)

“These are heavy loads and, when they come down this hill, they lose control because the brakes don’t hold,” Snowden said.

Aerial video showed the vehicle that was hit by the cement truck Friday was a pickup truck, and it appeared to have been completely destroyed.

The collision was in the 1000 block of Loma Vista Drive (map), according to Katherine Main of the Los Angeles Fire Department, which was assisting in the response.

Beverly Hills Police Department and the California Highway Patrol were coordinating a joint investigation, Beck said.

Subin initially said two people in the car died, but that information from the scene changed, he said.

Wreckage and spilled cement littered the roadway. The cement mixer appeared to have become separated from the truck, aerial video showed.

crash5

A cement truck collided with another vehicle on Loma Vista Drive in Beverly Hills on May 9, 2014. (Credit: KTLA)

Loma Vista Drive was set to be closed from Doheny Road to Drury Lane for the remainder of the evening, according to police.

The street is notoriously steep and dangerous. It has a runaway truck ramp at the bottom, which is unusual for a residential street.

Residents have said traffic in the area — much of it associated with construction and remodeling projects at homes in the affluent area — is a concern.

The detective who was killed had “off-duty employment” in the area and regularly traveled the route, Beck said.

On May 2, a cement truck overturned in the 1100 block of Loma Vista Drive, leaving a trail of destruction after colliding with several parked vehicles on the way down the hill.

And on March 7, LAPD Officer Nicholas Lee was killed when his patrol car was struck by a large truck on Loma Vista Drive at Robert Lane.

lapd-process-firefighters

Firefighters from LAFD Fire Station No. 27 in Hollywood salute the coroner’s van carrying body of the officer killed in a crash in Beverly Hills. (Credit: KTLA)

After the crash that killed Lee, the Beverly Hills Police Department increased traffic enforcement on the street, it stated in a news release issued on the May 2 crash. The city was also working on “stringent regulations to control truck traffic on high-risk streets through the construction permit process,” the release stated.

On Friday, the LAPD detective’s body was draped in an American flag before being loaded into a coroner’s van, which was then escorted by other officers as it proceeded toward the coroner’s office in Boyle Heights.

Lee and the detective killed Friday were among four LAPD officers who have died in crashes within recent months.

Officer Roberto Sanchez died May 3 after a pursuit ended in a collision in Harbor City, and Officer Chris Cortijo died after being struck by alleged drunken driver on April 5 in Sun Valley.

lapd-deaths

Five LAPD officers have died since March 7, 2014. (Credit: KTLA)

Additionally, Officer George Nagata, a 33-year veteran who worked in the Central Area, died May 3 of a medical condition.

“This is a tough business and a tough life, and we have to deal with tragedy,” Beck said at Friday’s news conference.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti issued a statement, saying the city was still reeling from the deaths of the on-duty officers.

“My heart aches at the death today of yet another of our officers,” Garcetti said. “This is a difficult time for our men and women in blue, and the whole city joins them in mourning the loss of these heroes.”

KTLA’s Jennifer Thang and Alberto Mendez contributed to this article.