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Couple, Struck Last Year by Fleeing Driver, Still Suffering

January 08, 2003|Peter Y. Hong | Times Staff Writer

The LAPD's decision to forgo chases over most traffic infractions came too late for people like Anna and Henry Polivoda, who were struck by a car fleeing police last March.

But their daughter, Stephany Yablow, is pleased that the department addressed what she sees as a flawed policy. "It's very gratifying," she said of the Police Commission's decision Tuesday to cease most pursuits stemming from traffic violations.

Yablow's parents were struck and seriously injured during a Saturday afternoon stroll to the Beverly Center mall. Los Angeles Police Department officers had stopped a car for a registration infraction near La Brea Avenue and Washington Boulevard when the driver fled, speeding through side streets and hitting 12 cars before he reached the Beverly Center, police said.

The car struck Henry Polivoda, 79, and Anna Polivoda, 76, as they walked in the crosswalk at the mall's entrance at Beverly and La Cienega boulevards. After hitting the Polivodas, who suffered head injuries and broken bones, occupants of the car jumped out and ran into the mall. Police were able to capture only the driver, 23-year-old Tremine Tillman of Van Nuys, who was later convicted of hit-and-run.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Friday January 10, 2003 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 16 inches; 573 words Type of Material: Correction
Police pursuits -- A story in the California section Wednesday about a new LAPD policy on police pursuits misquoted Stephany Yablow, whose parents were struck by a car during a pursuit. Yablow called the new policy "reasonable," not "readable." *

Since the accident, the Polivodas, who had endured the Holocaust in their native Poland and lived in Los Angeles since 1962, have given up most of the activities they had enjoyed, Yablow said.

The couple took daily walks in their West Hollywood neighborhood, drove themselves and tended to their garden filed with radishes, cucumbers and sweet peas, Yablow said. Anna Polivoda even climbed onto the garage roof to trim branches. Each year, they took an ambitious trip, often to Israel and Europe, Yablow said.

"Now they can't do anything. They sit at home; going to the doctor is a major event," Yablow, a real estate lawyer, said.

The LAPD had defended its conduct in the March pursuit, saying that after an initial pursuit, only a helicopter was following the suspects' car by the time it hit the Polivodas. After the accident, Yablow called the LAPD "out of control."

On Tuesday, Yablow praised the Police Commission and the department for "coming up with a very readable, workable policy. Now they've got to train officers and see how it's working," she said.

Yablow has filed a claim against the city for her parents, seeking $10 million. The claim was rejected, and she said her parents are considering a lawsuit.

Meanwhile, Yablow said she will continue to push for a revision of the state law granting officers immunity from civil liability when conducting pursuits.

"My parents are not doing well and that motivates me," she said.

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