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A Face of Hit-and-Run Victims

I took a portrait of David Granados in March 2012. A year and three days later, he was killed in a hit-and-run collision near his home.

In the early evening of March 24, a Mercedes SUV struck David Granados at the intersection of Bellaire Avenue and Oxnard Street in the San Fernando Valley.

The impact separated Granados from his bike. The car continued down the street and then stopped. A passenger got out of the vehicle, extracted the bike from the car's undercarriage and hopped back in as the car sped off, witnesses told the Granados family.

The car had dealer plates, and the person driving it has not been found.

Granados was taken to the hospital where the 18-year-old high school senior died two days later.

I took his photograph along with dozens of other students for a special report KPCC produced about his class at Grant High School.

When I saw the grainy photos his family released to the press in the wake of the accident, I  recognized him immediately.

I knew the photo would mean something to the family, so I gave them a copy. I visited their home and the "ghost bike" memorial at the scene of the accident.

There are not many high-resolution, studio-lit photos of hit-and-run victims in Los Angeles. There are plenty of victims, though. David Granados is only one face.

In 2011, the last number for which statistics are available, one-third of motorists involved in accidents drove away after the collision. There were 514 accidents involving bicyclists, and 36 people died in hit-and-run accidents of all types, according to statistics from the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition.

There is little to no data available on whether hit-and-run accidents lead to arrests or prosecutions, said Colin Bogart, education director at the coalition.

Through the Los Angeles City Council's public safety committee, the organization is pressing the LAPD to release a report with more thorough data about traffic accidents involving pedestrians and cyclists.

"We've been waiting for this report now for two months," Bogart said. "Right now, we don't even know how many there are. Sometimes when you look at data like this patterns come up."

David Granados' sisters, Aura, Lorene and Michelle, have worked with David's classmates and the bicycle coalition to organize vigils and press conferences.

On May 15, there will be a silent ride from Grant High School to get the word out about David Granados' unsolved case and to encourage others to bike safely.

Jose David Granados, the victim's father, is unemployed and helps with a small family daycare in their home. He said he's been surprised by an outpouring of support from  classmates and community members.

"I didn't have an idea of what he was up to, that so many people knew him and cared about him this much," Jose David Granados said.

There is a $50,000 reward for information about the vehicle that hit the high school senior. He would have graduated at the end of this month.

Police released this video of the car leaving the scene of the accident.

 

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