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Lohan in Another Crash Near Site of Ramming by Paparazzo

Actress' car hits a van, whose driver is taken to a hospital. Publicist blames photographers.

October 05, 2005|Richard Winton and Rong-Gong Lin | Times Staff Writers

In a Westside traffic accident that gives new meaning to the term "star-struck," a black Mercedes-Benz driven by teenage actress Lindsay Lohan collided Tuesday afternoon with a van along a stretch of Robertson Boulevard, just blocks from where the star was rammed by a photographer months earlier.

Tuesday's accident, which remains under investigation, occurred shortly after Lohan was trailed and photographed by paparazzi as she lunched and shopped along the boulevard. Though authorities declined to state whether paparazzi were involved in the accident, Lohan's publicist blamed the collision on photographers.

"This is another example of the paparazzi endangering citizens, both Ms. Lohan and the other driver in the collision," said Leslie Sloan, the actress' spokeswoman. "As the matter is still under investigation, we cannot comment further at this time."

The van's driver was taken to a hospital with moderate injuries, authorities said, while Lohan and a passenger suffered minor injuries.

According to witnesses and authorities, the star of such films as "Mean Girls" and "Herbie: Fully Loaded" was driving her convertible Mercedes north on Robertson when she struck a maroon van that was making a U-turn in front of her. The accident occurred just before 5 p.m., near Beverly Boulevard.

The van, which was driven by an employee of the Newsroom Cafe, was trying to pull into a parking space when it was struck on the driver's side and propelled into a large truck, authorities said.

"It was a very violent crash," said witness Katherine Starr, 50, of New Orleans. "It was such a loud impact, it was explosive."

Starr said she was walking along the sidewalk when she noticed Lohan driving at a high rate of speed.

"She was just flying down the street," Starr said. "People crawl along there, but she had to be going 50 or 60 mph. I really don't think she should have been driving so fast. There's too much pedestrian activity there."

The air bags on Lohan's Mercedes deployed, and the actress and her friend opened their doors and ran into a nearby antiques store.

"She was very upset," Javier Ramirez, a store employee, told Associated Press. "She kept saying, 'Oh my God, oh my God, I can't believe it.' "

The van's driver stumbled onto the street and was helped by employees of the restaurant, witnesses said.

The stretch of Robertson where the crash occurred is a haunt for stars, who are drawn to its boutiques and eateries. The area also draws celebrity photographers looking to snap candid photos.

Witnesses said Lohan was photographed as she ate lunch and shopped Tuesday. It wasn't clear whether she believed that she was being chased at the time of the crash.

A Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department spokesman said that investigators would review all aspects of the incident and that alcohol did not appear to be a factor.

It was in the same neighborhood four months ago that Lohan made headlines when a celebrity photographer rammed his car into her car. The accident gave rise to a special investigative task force that prosecutes criminal cases against aggressive paparazzi.

On May 31, police arrested Galo Ramirez, 24, on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon, and said Ramirez was attempting to photograph Lohan when the collision occurred. Several other paparazzi were on the scene almost immediately to photograph and videotape a distressed Lohan.

The crash was credited with prompting the Legislature to pass a bill calling for steep financial penalties for paparazzi who commit assaults in their pursuit of celebrity photos. The measure was signed into law Friday by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Times staff writer Monte Morin contributed to this report.

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