After packing his purchases from the market at 37th and Maple into his backpack on the night of August 6, 15-year-old Roberto Díaz hopped on his bike, heading home to meet the friend that he’d just sent on ahead a minute earlier.
One might expect Maple to be pretty quiet, traffic-wise, in that section of South L.A. The odd angling of the streets within the triangle formed by Jefferson to the north, King to the south, and Main to the east means the neighborhood is less likely to see cut-through traffic. But the fact that the area is off the regular traffic grid can also act as an incentive to speed.
It certainly did that night.
As Diaz moved into the crosswalk in front of the market, one such speeder ran the stop sign at that intersection and slammed into him.
The driver must have heard the bike grinding against his car and seen Díaz desperately hanging onto the side of the vehicle before he was finally pulled under it.
And yet the motorist continued on, dragging Díaz nearly half a mile, finally depositing him in front of The Accelerated School on King Blvd.
Speaking from his hospital bed to CBS2, Díaz directed himself to the driver, “I just wanted to know why you do like what you did. You saw me. You hit me. You knew I was under there.”
The teen somehow managed to keep his head up while being dragged, avoiding head injury. But he’s already undergone half a dozen surgeries to repair his broken limbs, and more surgeries await him.
It’s unusual for hit-and-run victims to survive that kind of trauma.
A woman who was hit by another driver speeding through a crosswalk just last night – this time at Vermont and 98th – did not make it. [A word of caution – the video is very graphic.]
Díaz’ friends and supporters will be holding two events this weekend to call attention to his case, to call for justice, and to call for safer streets.
According to CBS2, friends and family are holding a bike race Saturday, August 24, near the site where Díaz was hit. Registration for the event will begin at 12:30 p.m. at 35th and Maple. The ride will leave from Jefferson and Maple at 1:30 p.m., ending at Angel’s Point in Elysian Park. Proceeds from the event will go to help pay Díaz’ medical bills. If you can’t make the event but would like to help the family, a gofundme has also been set up on their behalf.
On Sunday, August 25, Streets Are For Everyone – SAFE, is holding a march and rally from 4:30 to 6 p.m. at 37th and Maple. The march will follow the route from where Díaz was hit in front of the market to where he was found, at King and Woodlawn.
Díaz was hit by a 2007 or 2008 Honda with tinted windows and, it is presumed, extensive front-end damage. Anyone with any information about the incident is encouraged to call the anonymous tipline at 800-822-8477.