Motorist is charged with killing 2 pedestrians
A motorist was charged Tuesday with two counts of murder for allegedly striking and killing two pedestrians as police pursued him along busy Hollywood Boulevard, prosecutors said.
Sergio Delgado, 29, who sometimes uses the name Delgado Valle, also faces two counts of felony gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and fleeing the scene after fatally hitting the man and woman.
“He was so intoxicated when he was arrested he had to be hospitalized,” said Cmdr. Debra McCarthy of the Los Angeles Police Department.
Delgado, who was convicted of driving under the influence in 2003 and of illegally driving in a bus lane in 2006, was being held on $1-million bail.
McCarthy said investigators are still trying to identify the victims and are particularly concerned that they may have children or other loved ones in Los Angeles.
Ed Winter, a spokesman for the Los Angeles County coroner’s office, said officials believe the man and woman lived in Los Angeles but their immediate families are in Mexico.
He said investigators have been attempting to contact the families through relatives who live in the Los Angeles area.
LAPD officials have insisted that an officer followed department policy Sunday night in pursuing Delgado.
Deputy Police Chief Terry S. Hara said the motorist’s erratic driving and not the pursuing officer’s actions led to the two deaths. Hara said the officer acted within the LAPD’s restrictive pursuit policy.
“The suspect was driving recklessly and endangering bystanders’ lives,” McCarthy said. “A pursuit was initiated, but the suspect’s behavior did not change.”
State law generally shields California police agencies from liability when a pursuit results in property damage, injury or death. In this case, McCarthy said, officers began to pursue Delgado to prevent a loss of life.
Hara said the officer, whose name has not been released, saw the suspect driving on the wrong side of Highland Avenue near the Hollywood Bowl about 8:45 p.m. and began following him as he accelerated and ignored traffic signals. The officer suspected that the man was driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
At the intersection of Yucca Street, a passenger jumped out of the vehicle and fled, and Delgado stared at the black-and-white cruiser, Hara said. The officer began a pursuit with lights and siren at Hollywood and Highland, Hara said.
The officer had been pursuing the suspect east on Hollywood Boulevard for about a minute when the driver ran a red light at Wilcox Avenue and hit two pedestrians in the crosswalk, Hara said.
After the crash, Delgado drove for a block and tried to run away, but he was stopped by Hollywood Division officers, police said.
One witness questioned whether the police pursuit led to the pedestrians being hit.
“Why would you chase someone down a busy boulevard like this?” said Stevie Herrall, 37, who saw the crash. “I’m not blaming the cops . . . [but] they could have backed off.”
Herrall said he saw the suspect’s car weaving through traffic on Hollywood Boulevard before it reached Wilcox and struck the pedestrians, who were holding hands.
The suspect was driving on the correct side of the street at the time of the crash, but sped through the red light, blindsiding the couple, Herrall said.
“I don’t think they had time” to move, he said.
The car struck both pedestrians and ran over the woman’s torso and legs. The man’s body lay in the street as other cars ran over him, Herrall said.
The pedestrians -- a man described only as a 25-year-old Latino, about 5 feet 4, and a woman in her 30s -- were crossing on a green light in a marked crosswalk on the west side of the intersection at the time of the crash, police said.
The officer pursuing the suspect stopped to help the pedestrians, but they were pronounced dead at the scene.
Sgt. Ruby Malachi said the male victim was carrying a CVS pharmacy card but neither pedestrian had any other form of identification.
After the crash, the suspect was taken to a hospital and placed under arrest.