Police gathered Tuesday in the same Sun Valley intersection that
they did a year ago today, when a driver under the influence of
methamphetamine crashed into another car, killing a Burbank mother
This time, the officers, joined by Los Angeles Police Chief
William Bratton and other Los Angeles civic leaders, went to Glenoaks
and Sunland boulevards to remind residents about the danger of
Last year, Melissa Perez, her 23-month-old son, Alec, and Perez’s
mother, Martha Cohen, were driving home in their Ford Escort when
they were broadsided by Troy Shaw. Perez, 21, died at the scene and
Alec died three days later of brain injuries he suffered in the
crash. Cohen was not seriously injured.
On Tuesday, officials parked a mangled car near the crash site to
show the consequences of driving under the influence.
“We want people to be responsible and to avoid drinking and
driving and other experiences like the one that occurred at this
intersection last year,” LAPD Det. Bill Bustos said. “This is not a
message only for Los Angeles. It’s for everybody. This incident was a
Cohen did not attend the event, but backed the message.
“Maybe a few more people will listen and realize that it’s not OK
to get behind the wheel of your car under the influence of anything,”
she said. “I’ll do anything to get that message out.”
Shaw pleaded guilty and was sentenced to eight years in state
prison for two counts of vehicular manslaughter while under the
influence of drugs. He was enrolled in a Proposition 36 program at
the time of the crash. Proposition 36 was passed by voters more than
a year ago, mandating treatment rather than jail time for nonviolent
After a year that included struggling through the case, the family
wasn’t sure how to celebrate Christmas this year without Alec and his
mother. But they did.
“Melissa would have wanted it that way,” Cohen said.