Los Angeles

Woman Killed in Crosswalk After Trying to Avoid a Speeding Hit-and-Run Driver

The victim was in a marked crosswalk in the Vermont Vista area when she was struck by the car

A woman who had just stepped off a bus and into a South Los Angeles-area crosswalk was killed when she was struck by a hit-and-run driver.

The crash at 98th Street and South Vermont Avenue in the Vermont Vista community of South Los Angeles was captured on security camera video.

The video shows the woman getting off the bus at about 11 p.m. Tuesday and walking in a marked crosswalk. She appeared to become aware of approaching danger, and step back to get out of the way.  The video revealed that two vehicles were approaching, a coupe and an SUV.  Neither stopped before the crosswalk.  It appeared she was struck by the passenger side view mirror of the coupe, which continued without stopping.  It appeared the SUV passed behind the woman without striking her, and then pulled over to the side.  Two persons could be seen running back to try to help.  The woman was pronounced dead at the scene. 

She was identified by family members as Ana Lynelle Graves, 58, a grandmother who recently had bought a home two blocks from where she was killed.

"She liked working, helping, that's how she was," said daughter Tenelle Fields, who came to the Vermont scene with other grieving relatives.  

Fields said her mother had complained of the commuter traffic she faced driving to work at a Westwood school, and earlier this week had switched to commuting by bus. Tuesday night, she was on her way home.

The hit-and-run vehicle was traveling at a high speed and might have a broken passenger-side door mirror, according to the California Highway Patrol, which is conducting the investigation. Relying on security video and vehicle debris recovered at the scene, investigators believe the hit-and-run vehicle was a white Mercedes Benz CLK from the early 2000's. 

No arrests were reported Wednesday.

Whether or not the driver is found to be at fault in the collision, the driver faces consequences for failing to stay at the scene, said Officer Amber Wright of the CHP's West LA station.

Where the impact occurred is a wide, straight stretch of South Vermont Avenue on which vehicles frequently exceed the posted 35 mph speed limit, according to area residents.

"This crosswalk here, people drive through like it's a freeway," said Calvin Robert Sanford, who lives nearby.

On the stretch, Vermont Avenue is separated by a median, with four lanes on each side.  There is a signal at Century Boulevard, two blocks to the south, but not at 98th Street. Both its crosswalks are marked and illuminated by overhead street lighting.

There is not a designated bus stop where the Metro bus pulled over to allow Mrs. Graves to exit.  Metro policy permits bus operators to pull over to the curb for a rider's convenience if it is safe to stop there, said Bob Holland, Metro's Senior Executive Officer for Bus Operations. In fact, during night service, operators are encouraged to do so when it can reduce the amount of walking a rider would need to do in the dark to finish her journey, Holland said.

The bus had already pulled away from the curb and was down the block at the time of the impact back in the crosswalk.  Metro was cooperating with the California Highway Patrol in checking if the the bus' on-board video recorded the white coupe and recorded its license plate as it sped south on Vermont Avenue. 

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