An SUV jumped a curb onto a sidewalk where homeless people were sleeping early Thursday morning, striking a man who died of his injuries.
Police received a call at 1:28 a.m. of a vehicle-versus-pedestrian on Wave Crest Avenue between Ocean Front Walk and the alley known as Speedway. The victim, identified by witnesses and friends as Eddy Davis, 36, died. He was in a sleeping bag.
The SUV was heading the wrong way down the one-way Speedway, veering to the left at Wave Crest, jumping the curb, knocking down a Dead End street sign and striking the sleeping man, according to Capt. Gary Walters of the Los Angeles Police Department. He said the SUV then backed into a second sign post and into a fence.
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The passenger then took the wheel, and the vehicle was last driving away south down Speedway, Walters said.
The vehicle was described as a GMC Yukon or Chevrolet Tahoe that likely has extensive damage from hitting the poles, signs and wall.
Investigators were hoping to find security camera video, and seeking witnesses who can help identify the vehicle and its occupants.
Friends of Davis said he came to California from Illinois, and had recently returned from visiting his two daughters there. He was known as the "Penny Man," because he adorned his bicycle and clothing with one cent coins. He was also a skilled guitarist, who could make the instrument "talk to you," said two friends who identified themselves as "Bear" and "One Love."
Davis had been working with a social service agency to arrange for housing, and until that came through, his brother was going to put him up in a hotel, he told friends.
The night he died was to have been his last on the street.
During the day, friends gathered his bicycle and other possessions with which to create a memorial on Ocean Front Walk.
In recent years, Venice has struggled for solutions to homelessness. For many years, homeless camped after hours on the Boardwalk or on the lawns of the Beach Park.
But more recently that has not been allowed, and the homeless campers have migrated onto the sidewalks west of Speedway, across from the ends of Venice's streets.
Kevin LaBeach and Karla Rendon contributed to this report.