In the last three years, police say organized racing has nearly vanished. Now, most races are impromptu. “The problem still exists,” LAPD Detective Bill Bustos said. “It has not gone away completely. … Illegal street racers, they’re abusing their privilege to drive. They’re putting their lives in jeopardy, as well as other motorists, pedestrians and the community as a whole.” While organized races have diminished, speeding is still a problem on the busy roadway. Since 2000, there have been at least a half-dozen fatal crashes on Vanowen, killing at least 11 people, according to police statistics. “People are speeding, whether it’s street racing or not,” said City Councilman Dennis Zine, a former LAPD traffic officer. “You see people racing down those major thoroughfares. As soon as they see a gap in the traffic, they’re accelerating to 50, 60, 70 miles an hour.” Zine said he plans to meet with Valley Traffic Capt. Ron Marbrey this week to talk about ways to get more officers on the streets, and he plans to introduce motions before the City Council over the next two weeks calling for more traffic officers. “This anguish that the families are experiencing,” Zine said, “this is another chapter in these sad tragedies that can be avoided.” josh.kleinba[email protected] (818) 713-3669 ——— INFORMATION Anyone with information about Tuesday’s fatal crash is asked to call the LAPD’s Valley Traffic Division at (818) 756-8381.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! WEST HILLS – An impromptu street race ended in tragedy with the death of a 19-year-old motorist who lost control on one of the San Fernando Valley’s legendary straightaways, officials said Wednesday. Jonathan McGinnis died about 8:45 a.m. Tuesday when his souped-up Honda Civic, westbound on Vanowen Street near Cleomoore Avenue, crossed into oncoming lanes and slammed into a parked motor home. He was then hit by a car with a 15-year-old student driver at the wheel. Witnesses told police that McGinnis appeared to be racing another motorist, who left the scene in a car variously described as gray, yellow or blue. “All of the vehicles were going fast,” Los Angeles Police Department Detective Steve Schiltz said. “This was maybe a race of opportunity – they come up to a light, maybe at Fallbrook or Platt, and it’s a `the-race-is-on’ type of thing. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREBasketball roundup: Sierra Canyon, Birmingham set to face off in tournament quarterfinals“Or, everybody just happened to be going fast … and it was just one car passing another car that was going fast.” Police are searching for the driver of the second car. If investigators can prove that another motorist and McGinnis were racing, the driver could face charges up to manslaughter, officials said. “I was in my home on the second floor when I heard the screeching,” said Ed Nazari, who owns the motor home involved in the crash. “As soon as I saw that the two ladies in one car were OK, I rushed to the other car, the red car. The car was so badly damaged.” Street racing has dropped dramatically in the San Fernando Valley since 2003, when the City Council passed an ordinance allowing police to seize and destroy cars involved in races. Still, excessive speeds have been a problem on Vanowen and other long, straight Valley streets. For years, street racers would gather along Vanowen, Sherman Way and Roscoe Boulevard on a designated night – often Sunday or Thursday – for races straight out of the “Fast and the Furious” movies, complete with a starter flag and finish line.
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