LOS ANGELES (CNS) - A Los Angeles City Council committee unanimously approved a motion Wednesday calling for the establishment of a dedicated speed hump program for all schools in the city in an effort to prevent tragedies like Tuesday's morning's accident near Hancock Park Elementary School, in which a woman was struck and killed by a vehicle and a 6-year-old girl was left critically injured.
"I'm completely out of order, but I want to express my condolences to the child who doesn't have a mother any longer and has some injuries that we don't even know how it will impact the rest of her life," said Councilwoman Heather Hutt, chair of the Transportation Committee.
"We have to do the work to ensure that the safety of our children, our mothers, fathers and grandparents are the priority. I want to use every tool in our toolbox to ensure that the safety of our people take precedence over traffic time," Hutt added.
The motion, presented by Council Members Paul Krekorian, Eunisses Hernandez and Hutt, seeks the establishment of a dedicated speed hump program for elementary schools, which was amended Wednesday to include all schools in the city, as well as procuring the required funding, staffing resources and a timeline for execution of the program.
The committee also approved a separate but related motion seeking to bolster the city's crossing guard program. Councilwoman Nithya Raman introduced an amendment directing the city's Personnel Department to implement a cash referral program to bring in more crossing guards.
The city currently has approximately 200 vacancies in crossing guard positions with funding for 500 crossing guards. The second motion seeks to streamline the hiring process for crossing guards.
Nick Melvoin, Los Angeles Unified School District board member representing the fourth district, urged committee members to support the motion and further address public safety around schools.
"I have the privilege and heartbreak of representing the school and families of Hancock Park Elementary, where yesterday we saw the unthinkable traffic tragedy with an erratic driver in a pickup truck striking a first grader and her mother while they were crossing the street to school," Melvoin said.
The mother died upon impact and the first-grader remained fighting for her life, he added.
"The conflict between a car-driven city and students making their way to school is tragically ongoing," Melvoin said. "I don't know if a crossing guard, a speed bump, a sign or traffic lights would have prevented this tragedy, but I do know that these measures can prevent future ones."
LAUSD Superintendent Alberto Carvalho shared Melvoin's sentiments and emphasized the urgency for the committee to move forward with the motion.
He informed the committee that a 14-year-old student at Berendo Middle School near downtown Los Angeles was struck by a vehicle Wednesday morning. He did not provide further information on the status of that student.
"There is technology, there is manpower that can be deployed, and there is a greater level of law enforcement to guarantee the safety and security of our children and their parents," Carvalho said. "We don't want to grieve anymore."
Parents and guardians of LAUSD students send emails about traffic incidents "almost every month," he added, and some offer to be crossing guards.
Raman, a parent of first-grade twins, said when she read about Tuesday's accident it "hit home" in a way that a parent can understand. She noted that her Fourth District has a backlog of projects to improve public safety such as adding stop signs and traffic lights.
"We have to redouble our efforts to make sure that those delays are not happening," Raman said.