The driver who slammed into a mother and her child as they walked to school in L.A.’s Mid-Wilshire neighborhood Tuesday morning may have suffered a medical emergency prior to the crash, police said Wednesday.
The crash happened just before 8 a.m. in the 6200 block of West Colgate Avenue, across the street from Hancock Park Elementary.
Police had previously said the male driver of a white pickup truck was speeding when he struck Ghadah Abduljabbar 33, and her 6-year-old daughter in an intersection, struck a light pole, and then crashed into an apartment building.
The woman was pronounced dead at the scene. Her daughter was hospitalized in critical condition late Tuesday and is currently stable. Their names were not immediately released.
The driver of the truck, a man in his 30s, was taken to a local hospital in moderate condition. Police said he was going well above the posted 25 mph speed limit and likely drove through a stop sign.
LAPD Chief Michel Moore previously said that “there are early signs that he was impaired and that was a contributing factor to this horrific collision.”
However, authorities later indicated that the driver may have suffered some sort of medical emergency.
“At this time, based upon the totality of the circumstances, this appears to be a tragic accident that possibly resulted from a medical emergency,” LAPD officers said in an updated news release Wednesday afternoon. “Investigation into this cause is ongoing, however, and will include the examination of additional evidence such as remaining video, canvass for additional witnesses, and a forensic examination of the involved vehicle.”
The driver was detained for questioning but is no longer in custody.
“As the investigation proceeds there is a potential that charges may be filed at a later date,” police said.
Residents say drivers often speed through the area to cut across to Fairfax.
“I don’t know what happened to the driver, but why would the car go so fast on that portion of the street at eight in the morning?” Nate Marciano, a witness who lives next to the crash scene, said. “It’s just impossible to understand.”
Danielle Yapp, whose daughter attends second grade at Hancock Park Elementary, said she has witnessed the dangerous maneuvers firsthand.
“We have a lot of people who seem to be frustrated, trying to get to work, trying to get on time and they’re not patient. They don’t want to wait,” Yapp told KTLA. “They’re going around car lines. They’re going around people, around families. I felt like something bad would happen and it’s just very unfortunate.”
She believes it’s critical to have a crossing guard during school hours to safely manage traffic.
Los Angeles Police Deputy Chief Blake Chow called the incident “a tragedy beyond anybody’s imagination.”
“You have a child, 6 years old, that attends first grade here, presumably being walked to school by her mother and they’re struck by a vehicle,” Chow said. “It’s going to have implications not only obviously for the mother, but for the child, for the class, for the family. These types of things, unfortunately, affect many, many lives.”
In a statement, Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent Alberto Carvalho confirmed the “horrific” incident occurred near Hancock Park Elementary School.
“We send our sincerest condolences to the entire school community and have mental health counselors available on site for students and employees,” Carvalho added.
Alberto Mendez contributed to this report.