L.A. mayor’s official strikes, kills pedestrian on North Hollywood Freeway, spokesman says

An aerial view of police cars on a freeway after a fatal collision
Authorities investigate after a person was struck and killed Tuesday night on the northbound 170 Freeway near Victory Boulevard.

The director of Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti’s crisis response team fatally struck a pedestrian Tuesday night on the North Hollywood Freeway while driving a city vehicle alone in the carpool lane, officials said Wednesday.

The driver was traveling north on Highway 170, Los Angeles Police Officer Tony Im said, and, according to investigators with the California Highway Patrol, struck a person on the 170 near Victory Boulevard about 10:30 p.m.

Joseph Avalos was driving the vehicle at the time of the fatal collision, according to Harrison Wollman, a spokesman for Garcetti. Avalos heads the Mayor’s Crisis Response Team, which operates out of the Mayor’s Office of Public Safety. According to its website, it sends volunteers to offer comfort, emotional support and resources to survivors of traumatic events.


Avalos was the sole occupant of a 2005 Ford Crown Victoria when he struck the person while traveling in the carpool lane, CHP officials said in a statement. The pedestrian, who has not been identified, was declared dead at the scene. Avalos was taken to Holy Cross Hospital for injuries.

Video from the scene showed a damaged vehicle as well as a tent placed over the body in the carpool lane.

Avalos, a reserve officer with the Los Angeles Police Department, has held his position in the mayor’s office for more than seven years.

Wollman said Avalos was discharged from the hospital Wednesday morning.

LAPD Capt. Kelly Muniz said that the vehicle in the crash was a city car, not an LAPD vehicle, and that Avalos was not acting in any LAPD capacity at the time of the fatal collision.

A CHP spokeswoman said the agency was preparing a news release.

Last year, Avalos was in the news after being hospitalized with COVID-19 after being fully vaccinated. He had a breakthrough case of the highly contagious Delta variant, he told The Times, and it almost killed him.

What saved him, his doctors said, was the fact that he had been vaccinated, and he urged fellow LAPD officers and others to “think twice” before they refuse the jab.


Times staff writer Nathan Solis contributed to this report.