SOUTH LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- A makeshift "Ghost Tire Memorial" on Thursday was placed at the South Los Angeles intersection where three young women riding in an Uber were killed in a high-speed crash involving a driver who was out on probation at the time.
The memorial was placed by Streets Are For Everyone, a nonprofit traffic-safety advocacy group which seeks to end traffic-caused fatalities, and Faith for SAFE Streets, the faith-based coalition formed by the group which focuses on the hardest-hit areas of South Los Angeles.
"We're here because we're mad," Damian Kevitt, executive director of Streets Are For Everyone, said at a news conference near the crash site. "We are mad because a criminal, who had multiple counts of felonies, who was on probation for charges connected with murder, was allowed to again murder."
The suspect, 31-year-old Gregory Black, is facing three counts of vehicular manslaughter after this past weekend's two-car crash at the intersection of Vermont Avenue and Century Boulevard, Los Angeles Police Detective Ryan Moreno said at a news conference Wednesday.
Black also faces special allegations of two or more prior felony convictions and aggravated circumstances of great bodily injury, according to the district attorney's office. He pleaded not guilty at his arraignment at the Compton Courthouse on Tuesday. He is due back in court next week.
Black, a "well-known local gang member," at the time of the collision was serving a five-year probation for attempted murder, Moreno said. Black's "checkered past" includes 11 felony bookings and three convictions, the detective said, adding that he had two criminal "strikes" against him, including a "super strike."
"Although he has an extensive criminal history... this one right here, I'm 100% confident he's going to go to prison. This man should never, ever come out and see the light of day," Moreno said Wednesday, referring to Black.
The violent crash occurred shortly before 5:30 a.m. Saturday when a Mercedes-Benz ran through a red light and slammed into an Uber vehicle at a high rate of speed, spinning the second vehicle five times, investigators said. Three passengers in the Uber were pronounced dead at the scene.
They were later identified as sisters Kimberly Izquierdo, 27, and 23-year-old Veronica Amezola. The third deceased victim was Juvelyn Arroyo, 23. The Uber driver, a 38-year-old woman, and a fourth passenger in that car were taken to the hospital.
Moreno said the crash site "looked like a bomb went off" in the aftermath of the collision.
The suspect, Black, was also taken to the hospital in stable condition. He had reached speeds of up to 100 mph in a 35-mph zone before the impact, police said.
"He's going to prison," Moreno added, referring to Black. "It doesn't bring back the victims. Those families right now are all suffering. One of the families, they're preparing for two funerals, for both their daughters."
The memorials erected on Thursday feature tires painted white, and the groups organizing the event highlighted the need to rein in speeding by re-engineering streets to force drivers to drive at safer speeds, as well as calling on the Legislature to pass Assembly Bill 645 which would create a pilot program in six California cities to install speed cameras, with a priority around schools, high-injury networks and known street racing corridors.
According to Damian Kevitt, executive director of Streets Are For Everyone, speed cameras are used in more than 150 other cities across the nation and have a proven track record of reducing crashes and fatalities. AB 645 is awaiting review in the Senate Appropriations Committee.
According to Kevitt's organization, Los Angeles saw a record 312 fatalities in 2022 -- and speed has been the single-largest factor in traffic collisions every year since before 2011.
As of Aug. 12, there were 194 fatalities this year, the group said, quoting LAPD data.
Meanwhile, GoFundMe accounts have been set up in honor of Izquierdo and Amezola, the two sisters who were killed, and in honor of Juvelyn Arroyo.
City News Service contributed to this report.