My husband and I have lived at this dangerous intersection for about a year and a half now. When I first saw the apartment I only thought about how spacious it was for the price, for a one-bedroom in a great central location of Los Angeles. Sure, there was no dishwasher or laundry on site, but I could cope. (Never again will I live in a place without laundry on site, but that’s a topic for another time.) I even went to take a look at the place at night– from the outside, grant you. There are a lot of good things about this place, like the fact that you can always find parking on the street (not always easy in the city) and that it’s only 2 to 3 miles from each of our workplaces, as well as being in walking distance of some of the best museums, the Japan Foundation, and lots of kosher markets and restaurants. It has a 1930’s/40’s charm to the interior, as evident in certain features of the kitchen and bathroom.
BUT– and that’s a big but, folks….Our bedroom and kitchen face San Vicente Blvd. The street serves as a route for major bus lines, ambulances on their way to Cedars Sinai Hospital and other medical centers, and it’s a cut-through route that crosses diagonally between Olympic, Pico, and Wilshire Blvds. That means we get everything from heavy rush hour traffic to trailer trucks hauling other cars down the street. We also get a lovely dusting of this black particulate all over our windowsills and counters. You would hope that when it rains, all that would get washed away, but it actually makes it messier so I’m careful about closing the windows on those rare occasions.
We once had a friend from New Zealand stay over with us for a couple nights, and looking out the window, she asked if San Vicente Blvd. was our freeway. She hadn’t seen the real freeways yet, but I can understand why she would think that. There are 3 lanes on each side of the road!
Accidents happen at this intersection all the time, especially because there are no left-turn arrows, so people make their own poor left turn decisions for themselves and consequently get into accidents. It even happened to me the day before this past Thanksgiving.
Around Thanksgiving the year before in 2013, we both witnessed the most horrendous accident either of us have ever seen in our lives. We’re talking movie special effects-level horrible. Only this was real. The picture at the beginning of this post is from the smoldering aftermath. We were up early, getting ready to go out to the Howard Hughes Center to catch a screening of the 50th Anniversary Special of Doctor Who. I was just puttering around the kitchen, getting my breakfast, and then I heard a huge impact sound and then a BOOM. When we went to the window that faced the cross street, this is basically what we saw:
Although it’s obscured by the screen in this picture, you can kind of tell that the car that had crashed was completely ENGULFED in flames. Black smoke was billowing up to the sky, and the little tree nearby was being burnt to a crisp as well. I had never seen anything like it in real life. I started screaming my head off, afraid that someone was in there burning alive right outside our apartment. It was really surreal. I saw neighbors running toward the flames and all I could shout was “CALL 911”. The traffic light pole that had stretched across the street was entirely knocked over and laying across the road. There was another car involved in the accident too, but my main focus was on the car on fire. They were both higher end cars, and a pretty high-octane diesel probably caused an explosion like that. It seemed that what happened was caused by speeding and obviously reckless driving. I heard later that one of the neighbors dragged the driver out of the car before they could die in the flames, but I have no idea the condition they were actually in or whether they pulled through.
There have been others since then. The one where a car hit two motorcyclists; the occasional unfortunate fender-bender, and then the one this past New Year’s Eve where it appeared that a drunk driver had plowed into a parked car, causing a chain reaction of bumper to bumper damage with the cars parked in front of it. That driver fled the scene but the first car that was hit is still there two weeks later.
We’ll probably move some time this year to a quieter less accident-prone location. In the meantime though, I’m going to keep wearing earplugs when I sleep, and be extra careful driving around here. I leave you with a song: