A 17-ton semi-trailer truck Wednesday ran over and killed a 71-year-old woman, apparently because she came so close to the tall truck in a Ventura Boulevard crosswalk that the driver could not see her from the cab, police said.
The small woman, whose name was not made public pending notification of her relatives, was walking south across the boulevard at Crebs Avenue when the 18-wheeler rolled forward as the light turned green.
"She was so close to the truck, and because (the cab) is so high, he didn't see her," said Sgt. David Clinton of the LAPD's Valley Traffic Division.
"This man was throwing his hands in the air and I was wondering what was wrong with him when I figured it out," the truck driver, Ron Darnold, said shortly after the accident, holding his head in his hands as his voice shook with emotion.
"I just didn't see her. I feel so bad."
As police investigated at the scene, Darnold, 47, of North Hollywood, sat quietly on the step to his truck cab, tears welling in his eyes and wringing his hands. "In 20 years, I have never had an accident like this," said Darnold, a driver for California Land Clearing Inc., a debris-hauling company working for the city.
Police said Darnold was not arrested but the accident investigation will continue.
Troy Markas had just left his accounting office in a building on the northwest corner of the intersection for a walk when he saw the accident unfold.
"It seemed to happen in slow motion," he said. "The lady didn't even flinch. She didn't move out of the way or scream. She just kept walking as if the driver could see her and he ran right over her. "
Markas said the truck did not stop until a second pair of wheels had passed over the woman.
"It is incredible to see that someone's life could end just like that," he said. "It seemed like something out of 'The Twilight Zone.' "
The center lanes of Ventura Boulevard were closed for more than two hours by the accident investigation. Passersby in cars or on foot stared at the woman's sheet-covered body still under the truck, some holding their hands over their mouths in horror at the sight. A black shoe and brown handbag lay next to her on the pavement.
Others just drove on, honking impatiently at the gawkers.
Norm Scoggin watched the aftermath of the accident and traffic jam from the Chick Wide Shoes store, where he is the manager.
"This is the first death I have seen here," said Scoggin. "My heart really goes out to that guy who hit her."
Bill Robbins said he felt compelled to pull over his furniture delivery truck to see for himself what was happening.
"The sad part about it is," Robbins said, "if you have family and you drive by and see the accident, you wonder if you know this person."