After a hit-and-run crash in Boyle Heights left a 13-year-old boy severely injured with the loss of his right leg, residents are fed up and are demanding action for safer streets.
According to data from the Los Angeles Department of Transportation, the traffic fatality rate in Boyle Heights is 53 percent higher than the overall city-wide rate and has the highest number of traffic fatalities than any other L.A. neighborhood over the past five years.
Community members are speaking out and want something done about the recurring traffic collisions that have injured or killed hundreds of people in recent years.
“I’m here to say enough is enough. The primary factor for all of these collisions, the single biggest factor, is speeding,” said Damian Kevitt, founder of Streets Are Safe For Everyone (SAFE), a nonprofit organization that aims to reduce “traffic fatalities to zero.”
In 2013, Kevitt was run over by a driver who never stopped. The hit-and-run crash caused Kevitt to lose his leg.
According to data from the University of California Berkeley’s Transportation Injury Mapping System, in the past 10 years, a one-mile stretch of Whittier Boulevard from Boyle Avenue to Lorena Street in Boyle Heights has seen over 225 collisions, causing almost 600 injuries or deaths.
On March 30, Joshua Mora, 13, was crossing the intersection of Whittier Boulevard and Orme Avenue when he was struck by a speeding motorcyclist. The hit-and-run crash left the boy critically injured and later, resulted in the loss of his right leg.
The crash was partially captured on surveillance video where the biker is seen sliding across the pavement after striking Mora. The suspect hops back onto his bike and speeds off, leaving Mora lying on the road.
KTLA spoke with Mora from his hospital bed at the LAC + USC Medical Center as he recovers.
“I know everything’s going to be okay,” said Mora. “The good thing is that I’m alive.”
Community organizations like SAFE have been pressuring lawmakers and city officials to pass AB-645, legislation that would allow the use of speed safety cameras around schools and well-known dangerous roads such as Whittier Boulevard.
“Let’s get this bill passed. AB-645!” said Pastor Patricia Strong-Farias, co-chair of Faith for Safer Streets, at a Boyle Heights rally.
AB-645 also proposes raising fines for speeding and implementing other traffic calming measures. Kevitt said most state lawmakers are on board, but singled out two members from Southern California.
“They are Assemblymember Chris Holden and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon,” said Kevitt. “We are launching a petition today to ask Chris Holden and Anthony Rendon to let this legislation go through. Let it go to the governor’s desk. Stop killing it.”
Mora’s family has created a GoFundMe campaign to help with medical expenses as the boy begins his journey to recovery.
LAPD said the hit-and-run suspect that left Mora hospitalized remains at large and there is a $25,000 reward for information that leads to his arrest and conviction.