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L.A. Unified had requested guard at crosswalk where woman was killed

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The Los Angeles Unified School District sought a guard more than a year ago at a crosswalk near a Hollywood school where a mother escorting her child was fatally struck by a big rig, but city transportation officials denied the request because of "limited resources."

Marleni Edith Barrera, 42, of Los Angeles was in the crosswalk with her 9-year-old daughter on their way to Citizens of the World Charter School Hollywood on Tuesday when a big rig struck her and the girl, authorities said.

Barrera was pronounced dead at a hospital later that morning, said L.A. County coroner's spokesman Ed Winter. The unidentified fourth-grader suffered minor injuries.

Citizens of the World shares a campus with Joseph Le Conte Middle School, an LAUSD campus. District officials said the Los Angeles Department of Transportation is ultimately responsible for placing guards at crosswalks. But L.A. Unified officials may ask the department to conduct an "evaluation for the necessity of a crossing guard," said John Sterritt, director of the district's Office of Environmental Health and Safety.

Sterritt said the district asked the Department of Transportation to perform engineering work and restriping at the crosswalk in January 2013. The engineering work was done within 30 to 60 days, he said, but the district never heard back about a crossing guard request.

"We did follow up," Sterritt said, "but I've found no evidence that we heard anything."

A city transportation spokesman this week issued a statement saying the crosswalk "qualified for a crossing guard but one was not assigned due to limited resources." The spokesman did not immediately clarify whether a study had been conducted.

"Safety is a priority for the department, and we are looking at increasing the resources allocated to the crossing guard program and identifying additional safety measures," the statement said.

In the wake of the tragedy, the district resubmitted its request for a crossing guard Wednesday morning, Sterritt said.

Meanwhile, authorities offered new details on the accident. Police Lt. Theodore Edwards said the driver of the big rig stopped before entering the crosswalk but did not see the pedestrians, so "started up again."

The driver proceeded through the crosswalk but, "as soon as he was flagged down by another vehicle, he stopped the truck, got out and rendered aid," Edwards said.

Police had not made any arrests as of Thursday, Edwards said.

matt.stevens@latimes.com

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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