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Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism University of Southern California

New Proposed Alert System Looks To Catch Hit-and-Run Drivers

A new plan calls for a city-wide system that could help catch hit and run drivers. 

A new plan calls for a city-wide system that could help catch hit and run drivers. The yellow alert system, proposed by Councilman Mitch Englander issue an alert to residents in the area if a person has been killed or seriously injured in a hit and run incident. “It would basically announce hit and runs on all of our highway infrastructures and would go out like an Amber Alert would,” Doug Tripp, Chief Legislative Deputy under Councilman Englander said. 

Some students at USC say they hope the plan gets approved by the city council. USC student, Willa Zhao was a victim of a hit and run accident while walking across the street near campus last February. “The last thing I remember was getting tea,” she said. Zhao says the accident happened on he corner of 28th Street and Figueroa Street. 

She says she woke up in the hospital the next day and had no clue what had happened. “I don’t remember it very much at all. When I was in the hospital, I kept saying I was really lucky and I still think I was really lucky to have survived and to have gone over the car instead of under it,” Zhao said. 

Zhao had brain surgery after fracturing her skull. Several titanium screws were placed in her head and she spent weeks in the hospital. She says she wishes there would have been something like the yellow alert system in placed to help catch the driver who hit her. "I just wish there was something like that there's still an open case in Los Angeles. We have nothing to loose, that can help so many people,” she said.

Hit and runs are prevalent in Los Angeles, according the Los Angeles Police Department. But Detective Sandra Smith believes a program like the yellow alert system could help with their investigations. "I could possibly see it working. On fatalities it would be helpful. A lot of times people see things and they just don't want to report it unless it's involving them. But it could help if they know it will be of service to the public,” she said.

As for Willa Zhao, she hopes no one will ever have to experience the trauma she was caused by a hit and run driver.

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