Glendale raises reward ante to find Griffith Park hit-and-run driver

The City Council on Tuesday begrudgingly approved a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the motorist who struck cyclist Damian Kevitt near Griffith Park, maiming him to the point where he lost part of his right leg.

Council members approved the reward despite many contending the money would be better spent on traffic safety issues within the city. But Kevitt’s mother, Michele Kirkland, said on Wednesday that the reward will help to renew interest in her son’s case.

“I am just grateful for the support from the community and I hope we can find the person who did this,” she said.

A $25,000 reward offered by Los Angeles in March hasn’t produced any significant leads, leaving the case at a standstill.

Kevitt, 36, of Los Angeles was riding his bicycle on westbound Zoo Drive about 11:35 a.m. on Feb. 17 when he was struck by a minivan and dragged 600 feet until he was dislodged on the southbound Golden State (5) Freeway onramp.

The van’s driver never stopped.

Kevitt suffered traumatic injuries and a portion of his right leg had to be amputated.

After spending months at a trauma center, Kevitt is now staying at a rehabilitation hospital, where he has been receiving physical therapy.

This week, Kevitt got a new prosthetic for his right leg and has taken a few steps, his mother said.

“Every day he makes progress,” she said.

At last week’s council meeting, Glendale Councilman Zareh Sinanyan requested the reward, which came from a Management Services account, according to City Manager Scott Ochoa.

“The point of us offering these $5,000 dollars is a token, a symbol of our commitment to the safety of our pedestrians, our cyclists in our city,” he said on Tuesday.

But Mayor Dave Weaver expressed concern about offering a reward for an incident that didn’t technically occur in Glendale and said he’s worried about the precedent it might set.

“It’s a tragedy that happened, big time, but it’s in L.A. and if we start chipping away at the borders of Glendale and throwing some token money into these, where do you stop?” he asked.

Councilwoman Laura Friedman said the money may not make a difference in whether the motorist is found and arrested, but would be helpful for improving the city’s bicycle infrastructure and making roads safer.

Councilman Ara Najarian said he also thought about using the money for Glendale-based safety program in Kevitt’s name, as well as displaying information about the incident on the city’s public-access TV channel.

Distributing information about the hit-and-run crash, Kevitt’s mother said, is critical in helping to find potential witnesses.

She distributed fliers during the weekend at the park’s John Ferraro Soccer Complex and nearby dog park, areas officials believe the motorist may have visited.

The motorist was driving a light-colored minivan with a large “For Sale” sign in the rear window.

Kevitt’s mother urged anyone who has frequented the areas and may have seen this vehicle in the area sometime after January to call police or report it anonymously.

Anyone with details of the crash may call the California Highway Patrol’s Altadena Station at (626) 298-8100. To remain anonymous, call (800) 782-7463.


Follow Veronica Rocha on Google+ and on Twitter: @VeronicaRochaLA.

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