Nearly four out of every five hit-and-run cases are never solved, according to an internal LAPD memo obtained by the NBC4 I-Team.
Police say a lack of witnesses and evidence means that more than half the cases never even merit assignment to an investigating officer. The document says over the past five years, police only investigated an average of 43 percent of hit-and-run cases.
Of that number, the memo says slightly less than half get solved. That means arrests are made in slightly less than 20 percent of the 20,000 hit and run cases that get reported each year.
That number translates to one hit-and-run about every 26 minutes. The LAPD says that is comparable to other major U.S. cities, and is actually less than those in New York, Houston or Chicago.
Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck says the majority of hit and run collisions involve property damage only.
But he also says more victims are killed or severely injured in hit-and-run collisions than DUI crashes.
Damian Kevitt knows about that.
He was riding his bike in Griffith Park last year when a mini-van ran into him. He was caught under the car and dragged for 600 feet (the length of two football fields) before he was freed.
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“(The driver) knew I was underneath his car. He knew he was dragging me for nearly a quarter of a mile,” said Kevitt.
Then the driver steered his Toyota Sienna onto the Golden State (5) Freeway and away from a severely injured Kevitt.
His right leg was amputated, and Kevitt began a painful four months of rehabilitation.
Even with witnesses and a $25,000 reward, Kevitt’s case remains one of the many unsolved hit and runs.
Police recommend increasing penalties and increasing enforcement of unregistered vehicles could help lower those numbers.
Kevitt agrees something needs to be done.
“If I could change one thing about this city, I would stop the epidemic of hit and runs across Los Angeles,” he said.
On Sunday, Kevitt plans finish the bike ride he started nearly a year ago.
“I'm taking it one step it at a time,” he said.
Kevitt's “Finish the Bike Ride kicks off at 8 a.m. Sunday at 4810 Sunset Blvd.
He and other bike riders encouraged to come out for the 6-mile ride to finish the ride with him.