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Out of Control Vehicle Results in Minor Injuries

By Olin Ericksen
Staff Writer

April 1 -- The most recent in what seems to be a growing number of traffic accidents around Santa Monica College left three pedestrians with minor injuries Thursday morning, but witnesses said it could have been worse.

The accident took place on the 1700 block of Pico Boulevard at around 11:30 a.m., after the driver of a Jeep Cherokee exiting an alley inadvertently stepped on the gas instead of the brake, said Lt. Alex Padilla, a spokesman for the Santa Monica Police Department.

Jeep ends up on curb (Photo by Olin Ericksen)

“It did not hit any cars that were moving on Pico Boulevard , but did hit a parked car that was on the north curb,” Padilla said. “That car then went on to the sidewalk, and three people were hit by the car."

Two sustained very minor injuries that did not require medical assistance, Padilla said. A third received minor injuries and was transported to a doctor by a friend.

Both cars ended up on the sidewalk, witnesses said, coming dangerously close to seriously injuring several pedestrians, including several students at the college.

The driver of the car -- Celia Jones,49, -- appeared shaken up after the accident, but thankful that no one was seriously injured or killed.

"It was just an accident,” said Jones, who was in the jeep with her mother and elderly grandmother. “Everybody is fine, but it could have been worse. It's a blessing nothing else happened.

"I hit the gas instead of the brakes, I think," Jones said.

In July 2003, George Russell Weller also reportedly hit the accelerator instead of the brakes when he plowed his 1992 Buick LaSabre through a crowded Downtown Farmers Market, leaving ten people dead and more than 60 injured.

Akili Williams, a student at the college, was near the scene of Thursday’s accident.

"I heard a sound, turned around and looked and saw two Asians there with rice splattered up on them, one was on the ground," she said, noting that they were carrying restaurant take out.

The accident, though not caused by a student, is the latest of 18 reported accidents that have taken place around the college over the past three months, according to an article published March 30 in the schools' newspaper, the Corsair. Of those, 12, including Thursday's, took place in March.

Santa Monica College security and several students interviewed at the scene of Thursday’s accident echoed the Corsair’s conclusion that many of the accidents are caused by students in a rush to get to class jockeying for scarce parking spaces at the campus.

"I'm not surprised," said Ajmal Noorzayee, a freshman. "I've seen a lot of close calls, hard brakes and yelling."

Many of the accidents involved drivers hitting parked vehicles, then leaving the scene without leaving a note behind, according to the news report.

Six separate collisions took place on March 8 and 9, the Corsair reported. In one, a victim sustained minor injuries. The rest were hit and runs.

“Hit and runs,” according to the report, “are often caused by those desperate to park their cars, who misjudge how their vehicles would fit between two others.”

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