Police are investigating the death of a 39-year-old woman who was struck by a vehicle on Sept. 24 at approximately 2 a.m. while crossing Santa Monica Boulevard.
The victim, who has been identified as West Hollywood resident Marina Morozova in media reports and on a GoFundMe page, was hospitalized and died on Sept. 28. The victim was walking southbound across Santa Monica Boulevard near Westbourne Drive when she was struck by a driver traveling west on Santa Monica Boulevard. The unidentified driver, a 21-year-old male resident of Los Angeles, stopped and was interviewed by deputies from the West Hollywood Sheriff’s Station. Alcohol or drugs were not involved, and the driver was not cited or arrested, said Det. John Heald.
The victim was crossing at the intersection, but Heald said it is unclear whether she was in a crosswalk. The intersection has a traffic signal, and Heald is also investigating whether the driver had a red, yellow or green light, and whether the victim was crossing with or against the signal.
The intersection is one of many used frequently by pedestrians along Santa Monica Boulevard between La Cienega and San Vicente boulevards. Numerous bars, nightclubs, restaurants and other businesses line the boulevard, and the area is busy at most times of the day and night.
City officials have taken steps to improve safety. Approximately one year ago, new traffic signals were installed at Santa Monica Boulevard’s intersections with Palm and Hancock avenues, and Westmount and West Knoll drives. The signal at Westbourne Drive, which was in place prior to the most recent signal installations, was upgraded with new turn lanes and signal arrows. That intersection, where the collision occurred, is offset, with the northern and southern portions of Westbourne Drive connecting with Santa Monica Boulevard at different sites. There is also a median at the location.
West Hollywood City Engineer Hany Demitri said the new signals and upgrades were implemented to reduce the risk of vehicle vs. pedestrian collisions. The city spent $1.3 million on the pedestrian safety project.
“We take a very proactive approach to constantly improving and enhancing safety in our city,” Demitri added. “Any accident in our city … is very regrettable and unfortunate.”
Because the new signals have only been in place for one year, there is insufficient data to determine their impact on safety. Demitri said feedback has been positive and many people have said they feel safer because of the new signals and other safety measures.
Heald said the collision involving the female victim was the first fatality in the area since 2014. Since 2013, four people have been struck and died as a result along the stretch between La Cienega and San Vicente boulevards, including the victim struck on Sept. 24, and two individuals who were struck by a bus in early 2013 crossing at Santa Monica Boulevard and Palm Avenue. Another pedestrian was struck and killed while crossing at Santa Monica Boulevard and Hancock Avenue in 2014. A fifth fatal collision occurred west of that area in 2013, at Santa Monica Boulevard and Doheny Drive. The collisions all occurred at different times and at different locations, and the circumstances were unique in each situation.
“There is no pattern going on,” Heald said.
The detective added that people should always be aware of their surroundings, particularly when crossing streets at night.
“All drivers and pedestrians should be cognizant about their surroundings and the dangers when crossing a street,” Heald said. “We don’t know who caused this one yet. It could be months until we complete the investigation.”
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