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SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA / A news summary | The Local Review

Speed Controls Sought at Site of Actor's Crash

December 09, 1999

HOLLYWOOD — Residents of the hillside neighborhood where actor Jason Priestley crashed his new sports car last week are demanding a crackdown on speeders.

Petitions signed by 359 residents of Canyon Drive asking Los Angeles officials for a "permanent and effective solution" were delivered Wednesday to Mayor Richard Riordan, City Council President John Ferraro and the Transportation Department, neighborhood residents said.

Priestley escaped injury in Friday's early morning crash. But a passenger suffered a broken arm when the 1999 Porsche slammed into a utility pole and a parked car. Although he said he swerved to avoid a deer, Priestley was arrested on suspicion of drunk driving.

Alexander Von Wechmar, who is leading the petition drive, and others in the neighborhood contend that speed was to blame for that accident and nearly a dozen others in recent years--including two fatal crashes.

The residents are suggesting installation of five stop signs along a lengthy straight section of the road, creation of a no passing zone and lowering the speed limit from 30 mph to 25 mph.

Residents complain that cars routinely travel 60 mph along the two-lane street. They said they plan to take legal action against the city if safety improvements are not made by Feb. 1.

The most recent fatal accident was June 19 and involved a car that crashed into a retaining wall in front of his home, said Von Wechmar, a German television correspondent who has lived on the street for 20 years.

The petition drive was underway before Priestley's accident, Von Wechmar said.

"I'm not the only one who woke up because of a racing car at the time of his crash," he said. "A man died in June in front of my door. Whenever I hear a speeding car my heart gets pumping."

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