Police: Fatal Crash Near School Possibly Due to `Medical Emergency'

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LOS ANGELES (CNS) - An investigation continues Thursday into a crash that killed a woman and critically injured her 6-year-old daughter near Hancock Park Elementary School -- but the driver of the pickup involved remains out of custody, and the incident "appears to be a tragic accident" resulting from a medical emergency, police said.

Meanwhile, the fatal crash has also sparked calls for increased traffic safety around schools, including the installation of speed humps near all schools in the city and more crossing guards.

Ghadah Abduljabbar, 33, died at the scene of Tuesday's 8 a.m. crash near Ogden Drive and Colgate Avenue in the Mid-Wilshire area, the Los Angeles County coroner's office reported. The girl -- a first-grader at Hancock Park Elementary -- remains hospitalized in critical condition. Her name has not been publicly released by authorities.

Abduljabbar and her daughter were walking in a crosswalk when they were struck by a southbound pickup that continued south and crashed into an apartment building. The woman died at the scene.

The driver of the pickup, a man around 30, was taken to a hospital for treatment of moderate injuries. Los Angeles Police Department Chief Michel Moore told the Police Commission on Tuesday morning there were early signs that the driver may have been impaired.

On Wednesday, however, the LAPD issued a statement saying the crash may not have been the result of any criminal activity.

"At this time, based on the totality of the circumstances, this appears to be a tragic accident that possibly resulted from a medical emergency," police said.

"Investigation into this cause is ongoing, however, and will include the examination of additional evidence such as remaining video, canvass for additional witnesses and a forensic examination of the involved vehicle. The driver has been positively identified and remains out of custody at this time, but as the investigation proceeds there is a potential that charges may be filed at a later date."

Meanwhile, Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent Alberto Carvalho said that another student -- a 14-year-old at Berendo Middle School near downtown Los Angeles -- was struck by a vehicle Wednesday. Circumstances of that crash and the condition of the student were not immediately available.

"We need immediate staffing of crossing guards, more enforcement around schools specific to speed limits and legislation to provide additional safety precautions and measures to ensure safe passages to schools," Carvalho said in a statement Wednesday. "We wish our student a speedy recovery, and extra support will be provided to the school community."

In addition, the Los Angeles City Council's Transportation Committee on Wednesday unanimously approved a motion calling for the installation of speed humps outside all schools in the city in an effort to slow traffic.

The committee also OK'd a separate 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 about 200 vacancies in crossing guard positions, with funding for 500 crossing guards. The second motion seeks to streamline the hiring process.

City Councilwoman Katy Yaroslavsky, who represents the area where Tuesday's crash occurred, wrote on her Twitter page that there are "no words to convey how horrifying this act of traffic violence is."

"Like tens of thousands of other parents in Los Angeles, I also walked my child to school today," she said. "It can be a terrifying experience, knowing that distracted drivers are traveling far above speed limits just feet from where our children walk."

Yaroslavsky vowed to support the speed-hump program at schools.

"We need to address street safety in Los Angeles as the crisis that it is," she wrote. "That starts with ensuring that Hancock Park Elementary has a crossing guard at the intersection where the accident occurred."

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