Actor Orson Bean (born Dallas Frederick Burrows), 91, was struck by multiple vehicles and killed Friday, Feb. 7, while crossing a street in Los Angeles’ Venice neighborhood that the city recognizes as notoriously dangerous for pedestrians. Bean was an actor, comedian, writer and producer.
Mr. Bean was on his way to meet his wife Alley Mills, who was volunteering as an usher at the Pacific Resident Theatre. He parked on the opposite side of Venice Boulevard as the theater patrons do and was crossing the busy six-lane street when the accident occurred.
A theater employee told the Los Angeles Times that witnesses said Mr. Bean was crossing between Shell Avenue and Pisani Place when a Honda Civic traveling west clipped him. He fell down and a Toyota Prius also traveling west couldn’t stop in time and struck him a second time, dragging him about a quarter block.
Mr. Bean’s death came in the midst of an ambitious push by Los Angeles City officials to beat back the daunting number of pedestrians and cyclists killed every year on city streets. According to the LA Times, city data shows that 244 people died in collisions in Los Angeles last year, including 134 pedestrians and 19 cyclists.
Pedestrian deaths soar despite safety initiatives
Pedestrian deaths continue to be dauntingly high despite an ambitious initiative Mayor Eric Garcetti launched in 2015 called Vision Zero, which aimed to eliminate all serious injuries and deaths in traffic collisions by 2025.
Yet more than four years into the program, the number of pedestrians killed by motor vehicles jumped more than 50% between 2015 and 2019.
The LA Department of Transportation has identified dozens of dangerous streets and intersections for safety improvements, but Venice Blvd., where Mr. Bean was killed, isn’t on the list.
According to the LA Times, pedestrian deaths represent a disproportionate number of traffic accident deaths in the city.
“Over a five-year period in the last decade, people on foot were involved in 8% of collisions but represented 44% of those killed,” the LA Times reported citing city data.
In Jan. 2017, 24-year-old Anthony Brown was struck and killed on the same street as Mr. Dean, just south of Shell Ave., and there have been many more accidents and near-collisions between vehicles and people on Venice Blvd.
In October, an SUV making a left turn into a crosswalk killed a 4-year-old girl who was walking to school with her mother in Koreatown. The girl’s death galvanized safety advocates throughout the city and spurred protests at Los Angeles City Hall over the failure of the Vision Zero program to improve safety on city streets.
Los Angeles deaths mirror national trend
The rising number of pedestrian deaths in Los Angeles mirrors a national trend. As in LA, the number of fatal traffic accidents in the U.S. fell in 2018, the last year for which national traffic statistics are available. Yet at the same time, pedestrian deaths rose significantly.
According to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) data, U.S. traffic deaths fell 2.4% in 2018 to 36,560, but pedestrian and bicyclist deaths rose the same year to a nearly 30-year high.
The number of pedestrians killed in 2018 increased by 3.4% to 6,283 in 2018 while the number of people killed on bicycles and other non-motorized vehicles went up 6.3% to 857.
Over the last decade, pedestrian have soared 42% even as the combined number of all other traffic deaths fell by 8% during the same 10 years.
Personal injury lawyers
Beasley Allen handles claims involving traffic-related serious injuries and deaths affecting pedestrians. Usually these claims also assert that the person’s injury has been caused by the negligent or wanton conduct of another. For more information about these types of claims, contact Cole Portis, Personal Injury & Products Liability Section Head.
Additional source: NPR