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L.A. to pay $500,000 settlement over infant killed in art walk crash

Pedestrian and Cyclist DisastersDisasters and AccidentsTransportation Disasters

The Los Angeles City Council voted Wednesday to pay a $500,000 settlement in a case centering on the 2011 death of a 2-month-old boy who was killed when a driver overran the curb and plowed into pedestrians during the Downtown Art Walk.

In a 2012 legal complaint, Jimmy and Natasha Vasquez, of Montebello, alleged that their son’s death was the result of the city’s “failure to properly design and create safe walking areas for pedestrians and/or place sufficient barriers and protections for pedestrians from vehicles” at the downtown event.

The devastating incident spurred a City Council-approved task force to examine safety issues at the event.

“It was an unfortunate accident," said Jonathan Dennis, the Vasquezs' attorney. "But the family is happy that the city resolved the case."

[Updated at 4:10 p.m. PST, March 19, 2014: "This is a tragic situation," City Attorney Mike Feuer said in a statement Wednesday. "We hope the resolution of this matter brings some measure of solace to Marcello's parents."]

Hundreds had been drawn to the Downtown Art Walk that night to visit galleries, shops and restaurants. People walked shoulder to shoulder along Spring near 4th Street where food trucks had congregated.

The Vasquezs were on foot and in a stroller was their toddler, Marcello. His aunt, uncle and four cousins were nearby.

About 9:15 p.m., a silver Cadillac DeVille moved down Spring Street and the driver tried to park in front of the El Dorado Lofts on the left-hand side of the one-way street. The sedan smacked the curb, then the driver hit the accelerator.

The car sheared off a parking meter and plowed into Marcello's stroller, which was thrown on its side.

"The guy was trying to park his girlfriend's car so he's trying to pull headfirst into a parking spot and going back and forth. He thought he was in reverse, but he was actually going forward, he hit the gas and boom he goes up over the curb onto the sidewalk," Los Angeles Police Sgt. Jeffrey Siggers said at the time.

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