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PCH crash victims' parents call for safer hwy

May 27, 2010 12:25:25 AM PDT
A water main break caused by an apparent drunk driver caused a traffic mess on parts of the 10 Freeway and PCH Thursday, and concerned residents are calling for more safety precautions."On April 3 at 6 p.m., my life changed forever when my 13-year-old daughter by a driver trying to kill himself," said Michel Shane, father of slain teen Emily Rose.

Emily's death may be the last straw for Malibu residents. Fed up with the slew of fatalities on PCH including the death of 22-year-old Tyler Love in 2005, a group of Malibu mothers is taking action.

"How many people have to die or be injured? How many more mothers have to bury their children?" said Maria-Flora Smoller, a member of A.S.P.C.H. "Enough. The time to make PCH safer is now." A.S.P.C.H., a 6-week-old group, short for "A Safer Pacific Coast Highway," is demanding more law enforcement on PCH in the city of Malibu - not only from sheriff's deputies but from the California Highway Patrol as well. The CHP currently polices the unincorporated sections of PCH to the north and south of Malibu.

"Put CHP on PCH now before another person dies," said Smoller at an A.S.P.C.H. gathering at Zuma Beach Thursday.

There is evidence of progress on PCH. Quick-curb paddles have been installed to separate north and southbound traffic. These paddles also keep drivers from making illegal U-turns, like the one that killed Tyler five years ago.

"It took me four and a half years to get them to put them up at the accident site. I love them. When I saw them going up, I started crying," said Tyler's mother, Teri Love.

At PCH and Big Rock Drive, more paddles were installed Thursday, but residents and law enforcement officials agree that it's really the drivers on PCH who can make a difference and save lives.

"Just be in the moment when you're driving. If the man that killed my son and his best friend had been in the moment, he wouldn't have taken an illegal U-turn across two sets of double yellow lines. He would have seen that there was a legal left turn 20 feet past where he was," said Love.

Sheriff's deputies remind those who will be driving through Malibu during the upcoming Memorial Day weekend to use caution on PCH. Authorities will be stepping up patrols and adding DUI checkpoints.

As for the morning traffic mess, police said a suspected drunk driver lost control of his car and sheared off an an above-ground water main along the northbound shoulder of PCH near the California Incline, causing the main to burst at about midnight.

At one point, water was shooting 150 feet into the air, and water, mud and debris flooded the lanes.

The water main break shut down the westbound 10 at Lincoln Boulevard and PCH from the McClure Tunnel to the California Incline for several hours. Lanes re-opened at approximately 10:35 a.m.

The water main break is located directly below a cliff overlooking the beach, and the saturated hillside is causing concern.

The driver behind the traffic nightmare was arrested, facing a list of charges.

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