|Home||Special Reports||Archive||Links||The City||Commerce||About||Contacts||Editor||Send PR|
Witnesses Followed Driver Who Left Scene of Fatal Collision in Santa Monica
By Jorge Casuso
October 18, 2017 -- The driver who struck and killed a bicyclist on Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) in Santa Monica on Sunday returned to the scene after being chased by three witnesses, but police have not been able to interview the young men, The Lookout has learned.
Police identified the victim Tuesday as 23-year-old Kazumasa Nozaki, who was hit by a car on the 200 block of PCH at around 7 p.m. He died at the scene.
According to two persons who stopped at the scene, the three men said they followed the white BMW that killed the bicyclist and returned with pictures and video footage of the driver fleeing to Temescal Canyon Road.
Kinya Claiborne, whose friend Carrie Wick had stopped when they spotted a body lying on the road, said the young men -- whom they called "boys" because they looked little older than teenagers -- spoke to police.
Their testimony and the footage and pictures they said they shot show that the driver fled the scene, the two witnesses said.
"The boys said they tried to get him to stop, they kept honking their horn, and he kept going faster," Claiborne said. "One boy was driving, one was calling (police) and one was taking photos and videos."
"It was a hit and run," Claiborne said. "He was fleeing the scene."
The two women said police told them they would interview the three young men and a couple they said saw the victim "flying through the air."
"The only reason we left the scene was that (police said) they caught the guy and everything was under control."
Santa Monica Police confirmed Tuesday that three men in a vehicle had followed the driver to Temescal Canyon Road, approximately a mile and a half north of the accident scene.
"They followed him to Temescal," said Lt. Saul Rodriguez, the Police Department spokesman. "The driver turned around and returned."
But Rodriguez said police had no record of having spoken with the three young men.
"We don't have that," he said. "I'm sure investigators will want to speak to them."
The three men in the car, however, "haven't made themselves available," he said.
Asked if police could track the young men down from the emergency call one of them made during the pursuit, Rodriguez said that 911 calls go to a dispatcher outside the City and cannot be traced.
Los Angeles Fire Department officials, who responded to the scene, said LAPD officers from West Traffic were also present.
When contacted by The Lookout, West Traffic officials said Santa Monica is handling the investigation of the accident, which took place in the beach city's jurisdiction.
"I'm not aware of anything on that case, particularly because we're not investigating," said Lt. Lonnie Taino, the West Traffic spokesman. "If LAPD spoke to those people, you would think it was relayed to Santa Monica."
The day after the fatal accident, Wick and Claiborne said they checked the internet for news of the fatal collision and were shocked by what they found.
"It seemed they (the police) had no witnesses," Claiborne said. "They never said it was a hit-and-run."
The half dozen media outlets that reported the story repeated the information contained in a press release issued by the Police Department Monday.
According to the release, "the involved vehicle initially fled the area; however the driver later returned to the scene. The driver of the vehicle was not injured."
Rodriguez said police view the driver "at this point (as) an involved party" and are "looking at possible negligence and fleeing the scene of the accident."
The press release issued Monday said the driver "is cooperating with the investigation and there have been no preliminary indications the driver was impaired."
Police are conducting additional blood work and toxicity tests, Rodriguez said.
When the investigation is completed, the findings will be presented to the Los Angeles County District Attorney, who will decide whether to press charges, he said.
Claiborne and Wick find it hard to believe police don't have the testimony the three young men went out of their way to provide, since it could be critical to the case.
"They caught the guy for the police and came back to the scene to give their report," Claiborne said. "We were there, we saw the three boys and the couple" talking to police.
"They're not even acknowledging they exist."
The two friends said they want to make sure justice is done.
"This man does not have a voice, this man is gone," said Claiborne. "He can't say, wait a minute, this is not what happened."
Said Wick, "We just want to see this man get justice. I just want the story to get reported. How could someone kill someone and leave."
Anyone with additional information should call Investigator Pace or Olson at
|copyrightCopyright 1999-2017 surfsantamonica.com. All Rights Reserved.||Disclosures|