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Girl Scout warned about danger before La Cañada crash

April 03, 2009|Andrew Blankstein

Girl Scout Malia Mailes is being hailed in her hometown of La Canada Flintridge for her crusade -- and her prescience.

Malia, a 16-year-old La Canada High School sophomore, had been warning for months about the safety problems posed by trucks driving downhill on Angeles Crest Highway.

Then on Wednesday, a big rig lost control on the road, barreled through an intersection and smashed into a bookstore, killing two people and injuring 12 others.

Now some residents are wondering why more people didn't heed Malia's warnings.

Malia began her crusade last year after a truck carrying 78,000 pounds of onions lost its brakes and careened into a parking lot at Foothill Boulevard and Angeles Crest Highway in La Canada Flintridge.

Malia found, among other things, a lack of signage and a lack of regulation for trucks using Angeles Crest Highway.

The review, prepared for the Girl Scouts Gold Award and put together in a Power Point presentation, was shown to the La Canada Flintridge City Council in early March.

City officials then forwarded it to Caltrans, urging the agency to act.

When Malia heard about Wednesday night's accident, she rushed to the scene.

On Thursday, city officials invited her to speak at a news conference about the crash.

"I was absolutely devastated, and I was wondering what more I could have done," said Malia, adding that she cried at first and then got mad.

Mayor Laura Olhasso praised Malia's work, but said she was disappointed that the response to the safety issues she raised wasn't greater.

"I thought it was impressive, thorough and understood the importance of the issue," she said.


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