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Two men and a 14-year-old boy were reportedly killed in a car crash after the vehicle slammed into a South Los Angeles Wells Fargo Bank building, which may have been the result of street racing. The crash was reported just after midnight at Central and Florence Avenues.
The 23-year-old Camarillo man, 32-year-old from Chino Hills, and 14-year-old Los Angeles boy, who were in a 2007 Toyota, were declared dead at the scene. The 20-year-old Hawthorne man driving the Toyota and a 28-year-old woman driving a Jeep were taken to the hospital.
According to the California Highway Patrol and reported by CBS LA, the Toyota’s driver was going eastbound on Florence Avenue at an unsafe speed when he lost control and hit the Jeep, which was pushed into a third vehicle, a Honda. The Toyota continued to spin out of control before it hit the bank and then ricocheted into a pole. The Toyota’s front passenger was ultimately ejected from the car. Dozens of people gathered at the scene after the crash and became combative with the officers.
Alcohol or drugs were reportedly not believed to be a factor in the crash, but investigators are looking into whether street racing may have been the cause of the crash.
And though still unconfirmed, since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, Los Angeles has experienced an uptick in street racing. As told to the LA Times at the time, police across California said that street racers were quick to turn public streets into their own playgrounds, challenging one another to races at dangerous speeds and performing just as dangerous stunts.
An investigation conducted by the LA Times found 179 people died in speed contests from 2000 to 2017 in Los Angeles County.
A law enforcement official told the LA Times that Los Angeles-area racers have grown increasingly brazen since the pandemic paralyzed the city, with younger crews organizing takeovers in popular intersections, including near the Staples Center in downtown L.A. Another CHP officer said that they’ve seen an uptick of groups engaging in “roll racing,” which is when packs of cars drive along a freeway before rocketing off chasing their car’s top speed.
In early Apr. 2020, the Los Angeles Department of Transportation released a study showing speeds were up by as much as 30% on some Los Angeles surface streets. Moreover, the CHP saw an alarming 87% increase in citations for speeding in excess of 100 mph. During the month after the start of the stay-at-home-order in Mar. 2020, the CHP issued 2,493 tickets throughout California for speeding over 100 mph — almost doubling the amount of the same offense seen during the same period last year.
According to statistics compiled by The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 30% of all fatal car accidents can be directly attributed to speeding. Furthermore, according to the National Safety Council, about 13,000 lives are lost yearly as a direct consequence of speeding.