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Fatal Crash Investigation Yields Insight

A missing traffic sign that may have prohibited U-turns at the intersection and a driver with a provisional license may have factored into the collision that killed a Redondo Beach woman.

The 17-year-old male driver involved in a fatal traffic collision when he made a U-turn on Sepulveda Boulevard on Dec. 23 is a Manhattan Beach resident who was driving with a provisional California driver's license, according to Manhattan Beach Police Sergeant Mark Mason. He also said the accident intersection might have previously had a sign prohibiting U-turns. 

"I think at the very least they need to outlaw the U-turn there [Sepulveda Boulevard at Eighth Street]," Mason said. "It may be that you're not even supposed to make a U-turn there. We're missing some signs there. I can see where they were sheared off. The missing signs may have said 'No U-turn.'"

Drivers holding a provisional license cannot transport passengers under the age of 20 unless a parent, guardian or other suitable driver is in the vehicle, according to the Department of Motor Vehicles. [Section 12814.6 CVC.]

The 17-year-old driver had two passengers under 20 and one who was at least 20 years old riding with him when he attempted a U-turn on a green light on northbound Sepulveda Boulevard at Eighth Street and was hit by a motorcyclist who had a green light while traveling southbound on Sepulveda.

Mason said the violation of the provisional license is a citable offense; however, MBPD did not issue a citation at the accident scene. "We don't always cite for a violation. Sometimes it's just adding insult to injury," he said.

"We're going to do a complete investigation before we make any determinations or take any action, if there's some action to be taken. We don't want to be rushing to judgment," he continued.

"It was kind of a very traumatic experience for the young man... and sticking a ticket in his pocket for violating his license provisions just didn't seem appropriate at the time."

The 17-year-old driver reportedly had left a business and was heading northbound on Sepulveda Boulevard at about 3:15 p.m. on Dec. 23 and was making a U-turn at Eighth Street so he could drive to a friend's house. 

Motorcyclist Jennifer Lynn Jensen, 52, of Redondo Beach, died from head trauma after being transported to Providence Little Company of Mary Hospital in Torrance. She is survived by two sons, Alex, 25, and Shaun, 23.

Investigators have yet to determine her rate of speed, and Mason confirmed there weren't any skid marks from her motorcycle.

Caltrans has jurisdiction over Sepulveda Boulevard because it is a state highway. Caltrans also is the entity that approves and installs road signs on the busy highway.

Mason said the city is already compiling crash data for the intersection where the fatal accident took place to send to Caltrans to support some sort of change, whether signage or a designated left arrow light.

"We [City of Manhattan Beach] have no direct control. We do have some influence, at least we like to think we do," he said, adding that Caltrans has fulfilled previous city requests for signage, including a recent one for a "no left turn" between designated hours on Sepulveda at 11th Street, though Caltrans sometimes asks for "a lot of proof."

Mason expects the investigation to conclude in the near future. "Each incident is a little bit different," he said. "This one is not very complicated. We're hoping to have it wrapped up in the next couple weeks." 

Luke Knowles January 11, 2012 at 02:25 AM
In such a situation as the intersections along PCH in Manhattan Beach, the city should have full control and CalTrans should only be an advisor. The high number of misaligned streets at PCH requires one jurisdictional party to be responsible, and since CalTrans has nothing to do with the misaligned intersections, it is better to allow Manhattan Beach to control the signage and rules of the road along Highway 1.

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