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Lohan's car hit; paparazzo arrested

June 02, 2005|Merrill Balassone and Gina Piccalo | Times Staff Writers

Lindsay Lohan earned her celebrity stripes Tuesday after a rush-hour paparazzo pursuit ended, police say, with the photographer crashing his car into the actress' Mercedes in an attempt to get her picture. She and a companion escaped with minor injuries, and the 24-year-old North Hollywood photographer was arrested on suspicion of felony assault with a deadly weapon.

Police said Lohan was making a U-turn on West 3rd Street near the Beverly Center when Galo Cesar Ramirez intentionally drove into the driver's-side door of her SL65 coupe. Ramirez, who was wanted by police on an unrelated narcotics charge, was released on $35,000 bail.

Lohan called police from her cellphone to complain that she was being chased by paparazzi before the crash occurred, according to a Reuters news report. Police said that Ramirez was employed by Fame Pictures Inc. of Beverly Hills, but a spokesperson from the company refused to comment.

"I thank God my daughter was able to walk out of the car," Lohan's mother, Dina, said in a statement.

The incident inspired nervous chatter among L.A.'s paparazzi.

"Most people will say, 'I'm so glad it wasn't me. I live to fight another day,' " says photographer Frank Griffin, a partner with Randy Bauer in the influential L.A.-based paparazzi agency Bauer-Griffin.

But Griffin, who says he bars his staff from such aggressive tactics, considered the accident "a warning" to fellow paparazzi. If they don't heed it, he says, more stringent laws that favor celebrities will eventually force the photographers to change their ways. "The profession should have anticipated it," he says. "It's not worth jeopardizing lives to go to those extremes."

While paparazzi have always pushed the limits of the law to get their shots, there's a new, more aggressive generation of photographers scrambling for the big payoffs that candid celebrity photos can earn.

"It's almost like the Gold Rush days of the 19th century," says Griffin.

Reuters also reported that Lohan, 18, had a cut on her ankle and complained of neck and ankle pain after the crash. Her 19-year-old passenger complained of pain in her head and wrist.

Lohan's next movie, "Herbie: Fully Loaded," a remake of the 1969 hit "The Love Bug," will be released June 22.

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