Loma Vista Drive Accident Takes Life of Off-Duty LAPD Officer -- Again

Loma Vista Drive is closed to traffic between Doheny Road and Drury LaneLoma Vista Drive is closed to traffic between Doheny Road and Drury Lane.

Patch photo credit: Penny Arévalo
Patch photo credit: Penny Arévalo

Originally posted at 3:55 p.m. May 9, 2014. Edited with new details.

An off-duty Los Angeles police detective was killed today when a cement mixer struck his pickup truck along the same winding, hilly stretch of road in Beverly Hills where an LAPD officer was killed in March in a collision with a dump truck.

The crash, which happened at 1:53 p.m. in the 1000 block of Loma Vista Drive, also seriously injured the cement truck's driver, who was taken to a hospital for treatment, Beverly Hills police Sgt. Max Subin said.

Los Angeles Police Department Chief Charlie Beck said the detective, who was pronounced dead at the scene, has been on the force for more than 25 years. He did not release the detective's name or where he was assigned.

The detective, who was in his personal vehicle, had off-duty employment in the area and regularly travels the street where he was killed, according to Beck, who said the truck was traveling southbound, or downhill, when the crash happened.

Los Angeles police Officer Nicholas Lee, 40, was killed on the same stretch of Loma Vista Drive on March 7 and another cement mixer slammed into several parked cars on the road last Friday, leaving the driver hospitalized with serious injuries.

"I was stunned into disbelief when I got the phone call and they gave me the location," Beck told reporters at the scene shortly after police officers and firefighters solemnly formed a cortege and brought the fallen detective's body to a waiting coroner's van.

Loma Vista Drive was expected to be closed to traffic between Doheny Road and Drury Lane through early Saturday as police investigated the latest crash, Subin said.

Beverly Hills Police Department Chief David Snowden said a 30-day heavy traffic moratorium, effective immediately, is now in place on that road.

Snowden said his officers, with help from the California Highway Patrol, would be weighing every vehicle attempting to enter the area.

Beverly Hills police issued a statement after last Friday's crash saying officers have increased commercial vehicle enforcement in the area and that the city was "developing stringent regulations to control truck traffic on high-risk streets through the construction permit process."

The statement called it "a critical public safety issue" and said the Beverly Hills Police Department and other city departments "are aggressively working together to avoid future accidents."

The detective's death was the third of an LAPD officer in the span of a week and the fifth this year.

Officer Roberto C. Sanchez, 32, a six-year veteran of the force, died on Saturday when an SUV crashed into the cruiser in which he and his partner were following another vehicle in Harbor City.

The SUV driver, 20-year-old Mynor Enrique Varela of Harbor City, has been charged with murder for allegedly intentionally crashing into the patrol car to help a friend in the car being followed escape the police.

Sanchez's partner, Officer Richard Medina, suffered a broken jaw and other injuries. He was released from the hospital Sunday and is home recovering, authorities said.

On April 5, motorcycle Officer Chris Cortijo, 51, was struck from behind by an SUV while stopped at a red light at Lankershim Boulevard and Saticoy Street in Sun Valley. He died four days later. The driver was charged with driving under the influence of cocaine.

The department was also mourning the death of Officer George Nagata, a 35-year LAPD veteran who became ill while on duty and died last Friday after being hospitalized with an apparent heart condition.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said city officials are horrified at the news of the fifth LAPD fatality in a little more than two months.

"The city is still reeling from the recent death of three on-duty LAPD officers and my heart aches at the death today of yet another of our officers. Amy's and my thoughts are with his family and everyone in the Los Angeles Police Department," Garcetti said, referring to his wife.

"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."

--City News Service


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