"An investigation is being conducted and will take several weeks to complete," explained Los Angeles motorcycle accident lawyer Garo Mardirossian. During this time details about the collision may not be available to the family of the victim.
As a result of this tragic accident, buses may be restricted from making left hand turns from the stop sign and will be forced to use the eastbound traffic signal.
Several nearby residents have witnessed accidents at this intersection and say how bus drivers make aggressive left turns from Marquez Ave.
By Reza Gostar, Staff Writer
Kneeling down next to a makeshift memorial on the western intersection of Marquez Avenue and Sunset Boulevard Monday morning, 23-year-old Courtney Hope placed a single red rose next to a sign that read, 'We love you Patrick.'
Six days earlier, on November 20, her boyfriend, 25-year-old Patrick O'Dell, an aspiring actor from West Virginia, died when his motorcycle broadsided a Santa Monica Big Blue Bus at that same intersection.
'He was a phenomenal person. He was an angel,' said Hope to this reporter, who happened to be on scene at the time observing buses exiting and entering Sunset.
The couple had only been dating for the past two months but they were very close, said Hope, as tears welled up in her eyes. 'There was a casual memorial service for him at Gladstone's. He was loved by many.'
O'Dell, a food server at Gladstone's, was on his way to work when the collision took place at about 10:30 a.m.
Detective Brent Johnson, with the Los Angeles Police Department's West Traffic Division, said that O'Dell, who was pronounced dead at the scene, was traveling westbound on Sunset when he slammed into the bus as the driver turned left onto Sunset from Marquez.
Unlike other vehicles, municipal buses traveling westbound on that stretch of Sunset at Marquez are legally allowed to turn right on Marquez and maneuver around the large triangle in order to return to Sunset and head back towards town. The buses have been using that intersection for more than three decades, said Suja Lowenthal, manager of transit government and community relations for Santa Monica's Big Blue Bus (BBB).
Additionally, Los Angeles MTA buses also use that same intersection to make turns.
Lowenthal said that BBB road supervisors have been evaluating the intersection since the accident, and the BBB is also conducting its own investigation into the accident.
On Monday, bus drivers were observed using several alternatives when making a left turn at that intersection. Some were seen going straight through the stop sign, some halted at the stop sign before moving onto Sunset, some waited for the traffic light to turn green, and others simply drove over the triangular marking separating the stop sign from the signal.
Regular vehicles are only allowed to make a left turn from the light and right turns from the stop sign.
The LAPD, which is spearheading the investigation, has not yet revealed which of the above techniques the bus driver used when he pulled out onto Sunset moments before the tragic collision with O'Dell.
Hope said that her boyfriend was an educated motorcycle rider and not the type to take excessive risks. Asked about news reports that cited witnesses saying that O'Dell was speeding on that long straightaway leading up to the signal at Marquez, Hope said that 'the reports didn't match up to me.'
O'Dell knew the dangers, she said. 'He wasn't late for work and he was very careful.'