A fatal crash near an elementary school critically injuring a 6-year-old girl and killing her mother last week in Los Angeles prompted a committee of the Los Angeles City Council on April 26 to pass two motions for the establishment of a dedicated speed bump program near all schools and to explore increasing school crossing guards.
"We have to do the work to ensure that the safety of our children, our mothers, fathers, and grandparents are the priority. I want to use every tool in our toolbox to ensure that the safety of our people takes precedence over traffic time," Councilwoman and Transportation Committee Chairwoman Heather Hutt said during the meeting.
The day before, a truck driver near Hancock Park Elementary School in Mid-Wilshire struck and killed 33-year-old Ghadah Abduljabbar while critically injuring her 6-year-old daughter, who was last reported in stable condition on April 26.
The driver of the truck, a 30-year-old male whose name hasn't been released, was reportedly taken to the hospital for minor injuries the same day, and according to a Los Angeles Police Department statement, also on April 26, there's no evidence of any criminal involvement in the crash. It appears to have been a tragic accident, potentially caused by a medical emergency.
The incident led Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent Alberto Carvalho to emphasize the need for solutions to prevent such tragedies.
“We need immediate staffing of crossing guards, more enforcement around schools specific to speed limits and legislation to provide additional safety precautions and measures to ensure safe passages to schools,” Carvalho said in a statement to City News Service on April 26. “We wish our student a speedy recovery, and extra support will be provided to the school community.”
Nick Melvoin, a member of the Los Angeles Unified School Board, also expressed his heartbreak at the tragic incident.
“The conflict between a car-driven city and students making their way to school is tragically ongoing,” he told City News Service the same day. “I don't know if a crossing guard, a speed bump, a sign or traffic lights would have prevented this tragedy, but I do know that these measures can prevent future ones.”
It’s unclear how much the speed bump program would cost.
Despite adequate funding for school crossing guards in Los Angeles, the transportation department is struggling to fill 200 vacancies of crossing guards out of 500 funded positions.
According to a transportation committee staff report, their recruitment has several challenges, including “inconvenient working hours,” with a two- to three-hour block in the mornings and another in the afternoon when students are dismissed.
Some officials, such as Councilwoman Eunisses Hernandez, argued during the committee meeting—of which she's a member—that the hourly pay of $22 isn't enough to attract and retain qualified candidates.
Data from the Los Angeles Police Department reveal that the number of traffic-related deaths in Los Angeles increased in 2022, surpassing 300 fatalities for the first time in 20 years.
Just hours before the transportation committee meeting, the tragedy was followed by another accident, in which a 14-year-old student was struck by a vehicle near Berendo Middle School in Downtown Los Angeles.