Neither alcohol nor mechanical problems appear to be factors in a big rig crash that killed a 42-year-old mother and injured her 9-year-old daughter as they walked to school Tuesday morning at a Hollywood intersection, police said.
The pair was in a crosswalk near Joseph Le Conte Middle School when they were struck by a southbound truck, said Officer Wendy Reyes of the Los Angeles Police Department's Media Relations office. Paramedics were sent to the 1300 block of Bronson Avenue near Fountain Avenue at 7:48 a.m.
"The little girl was screaming, she had a bloody eye. Her mother was unresponsive," witness P.J. Johnson said.
Both were taken to a hospital. The mother was mortally wounded when she tried to protect her daughter from the on-coming truck, officials said. Her daughter was treated for minor injuries, said Erik Scott of the Los Angeles Fire Department.
The victim was identified Wednesday as 42-year-old Marleni Edith Barrera (pictured).
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The driver of the big-rig was interviewed by investigators and released. He was visibly shaken when NBC4 spoke with him as he sat in the passenger seat of a truck sent by his company to pick him up from the scene.
"It's very hard," the driver said. "I can't talk right now."
LAPD West traffic investigator Ed Heregia said police are not ready to draw conclusions about how the crash happened. They will not close the case until they've had time to talk to all the witnesses, he said.
A stop sign is located at the crosswalk, but at least one parent, Jackie Grieg, said she believes the T-intersection where Fountain meets Bronson is too dangerous and needs improvements such as a traffic signal and a crossing guard.
"The way the intersection is set up, it's very hectic," Grieg said.
Other parents echoed Grieg's thoughts.
"Why can't we get flashing lights here? I see it at other schools. You push a button, the lights flash. They said, ‘No, the city's not gonna pay for that,’" parent Ira Belgrade said.
Los Angeles Unified School District officials say they have investigated traffic at the location and have requested a crossing guard, but the city has not assigned one due to "limited resources," city Department of Transportation officials said.
"Somebody died here! So how much is her life worth? You gonna tell that to her daughter tomorrow?" Johnson said.
The crash happened near two schools. Officials at nearby Citizens of the World Charter School - Hollywood said they are taking "steps to ensure the safest possible route to school."
"Our hearts and prayers go out to the family after today’s tragic accident," said DOT spokesman Bruce Gillman in a statement. "Safety is a priority for the department, and we are looking at increasing the resources allocated to the crossing guard program and identifying additional safety measures."