Hit-Run Death Renews Calls for Safety Measures in Silver Lake : Traffic: Woman strolling with husband along reservoir is killed. ‘Our worst fears have come true,’ Councilwoman Goldberg says.


He says he never saw it coming. The car came hurtling down a straightaway near Silver Lake Reservoir so fast Sunday night that Michael Manahan, 59, and his wife Diane, 56, out for an after-dinner stroll, had almost no chance to react.

Diane instinctively shoved her husband out of the way, opening herself to the brunt of the impact. The car struck the couple, killing her and injuring her husband, then sped away.

The hit-and-run accident near West Silver Lake Drive and Hawick Street has renewed calls for increased safety near the reservoir, a playground for joggers, cyclists and strollers such as the Manahans.


The Los Angeles City Council is considering offering a $25,000 reward to anyone who provides information leading to the arrest of the driver, police said. An off-duty officer who observed the accident reported a license number for the car, described as a dark Ford Mustang, but it was not listed in Department of Motor Vehicles records, investigators said.

A sidewalk lighted by 10-foot lampposts runs along one side of West Silver Lake Drive, a broad stretch of road that residents say is used as a drag strip on summer nights. The other side of the street is bordered by a wall marking the reservoir property boundary. The couple were walking next to the wall when the car approached them from behind.

Silver Lake neighborhood activists have asked the city Department of Transportation to build speed bumps on a few nearby streets, but say long-running debates about how to stop reckless driving in the reservoir area have led nowhere.

Although they persuaded transportation engineers to install a traffic signal at one intersection along the eastern edge of the reservoir and post warning lights before a crosswalk, community leaders have become entangled in a jurisdictional feud with Department of Water and Power officials over how to solve the problem.

“We’ve fought for so long to improve safety, in terms of speed and volume. This really hits home,” said Jan Soohoo, a member of the Silverlake Residents Assn. board. Soohoo, who lives less than a block from the accident scene, said she was on the phone at 9 p.m. Sunday when she heard a car speeding up the street.

“I heard a crunching noise that sounded something like a car hitting plastic, maybe a plastic trash can,” she said. “But it wasn’t trash night.”


An ambulance arrived at the intersection shortly after the accident.

Diane Manahan died at Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center at 1:30 a.m. Monday. Her husband suffered minor injuries to his feet.

Born in Milan, Italy, to an opera singer father, Diane Manahan trained with him and became cantor at St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church in Los Angeles. She had worked as a nurse for a plastic surgeon for the past eight years, and learned the value of health and fitness. After a dinner of salad and chicken soup on Sunday, Michael suggested they go for a walk.

“We were walking, and she did a little dance. She put her hands up toward the moon. Then she put her arms around me, gave me a hug, and the car hit her,” Michael Manahan said.

To cope with the loss, the Manahans’ seven children and four grandchildren are turning to each other at the family’s compound, not far from the reservoir, where they all live together.

City Councilwoman Jackie Goldberg’s office Tuesday renewed requests that transportation officials install four-way stop signs at one busy Silver Lake intersection and plan other measures to improve safety near the reservoir, part of an 84-acre complex surrounded by a chain-link fence and barbed wire.

“We’ve been complaining about it, community leaders have been complaining about it. Now our worst fears have come true,” Goldberg said.


Along the reservoir’s boundaries Tuesday afternoon, joggers wearing headphones ran next to the wall as cars periodically came tooling through the bedroom community.

“I’ve never been clipped, but I’ve come close a couple of times,” said Chris Pappas, 18, who was trotting along the reservoir’s eastern edge.

“This road is like a freeway,” said Juan Fernandez, jogging on the other side of the complex, a block from the accident scene. “People don’t care anymore. They drive like they’re insane.”