Only a few hours later, tragedy struck again in the same spot.
The sun was just ducking behind the Hollywood Hills, a chill was in the air. I was a little early for a night meeting, so I thought I’d check out the scene of the accident where and seriously injured earlier in the afternoon.
Was there a crosswalk? What's the speed limit? Could drivers see clearly? Who was at fault? How could it happen?
I put the address of the initial Los Angeles Fire Department report in my GPS: “11653 W. Moorpark St.—Studio, City, CA.” The bulletin Twitter from the fire department report read:
*Auto vs Pedestrian* 11653 W Moorpark St; MAP 562-H4; FS 86; At least 2 (possibly children) were injured & are being transported to a local hospital. NFD (No Further Details); Ch:8,0 @ 1:34 PM -Erik Scott###
The tweet initially was an inconvenience. I planned to cover the Studio City Residents Association meeting. I was busy. But, quickly it became clear that this was a neighborhood story—our neighborhood. I may know the school they’re from. I may know those children.
I quickly confirmed that the 11-year-old sisters came from just a few blocks away, and that they were both in the hospital—one in serious condition, one critical. I knew that two school administrators were at the hospital, holding vigil with the family.
As I pulled up to Moorpark and Troost in front of , I looked over to the right and smiled as I watched two grand cocky mallard ducks marching across the grass. This comical odd couple of ducks was innocuous to the world around them, quacking as if they were in deep discussion. They didn’t stop. They marched right down the center of Troost. Then, they started to cross Moorpark.
“Uh oh, what are you doing?” I shouted as if they could understand.
I pulled my car so that it was blocking two lanes, honking my horn and hoping to scare them into flight.
Nope, they didn’t stop. They just marched right into the road, not even looking both ways. They were still quacking to each other, holding their grand shiny green heads high, still oblivious to the traffic and to the people driving home for dinner.
I managed to stop the eastbound traffic, that was easy, but the ducks were heading into the westbound traffic and those drivers had the setting sun in their faces. I honked louder, flashed my lights, jumped out and waved my arms to the oncoming traffic. I pointed down to the comical pair of ducks.
They never paused, they just kept marching.
A few cars slowed and pulled to the side, a few pedestrians stopped to smile. It seemed like the ducks were going to succeed in bullying their way across the four lanes of traffic.
Then a white Buick seemed to pick up speed, and rather than pull over, it ran over the ducks. A car behind that one hit both of the ducks, too. I saw feathers. I heard a muffled quack. Neither car stopped. They didn’t even slow down.
I flashed on the memory of the horrific descriptions I had heard only a few hours before, from teens and pre-teens who had witnessed the accident at this same intersection where the girls were hit. People screamed, people cried, people looked away, people couldn’t help but look. Some ran toward the accident, some ran away from it.
And now, the same was happening. One duck looked flat and lifeless, knocked about 20 feet into the middle of the street. The other duck flapped its wings and scurried over to check on his friend. Then, with a slightly false start, that duck flapped its wings and flew away, and out of sight.
A brave tall blonde woman ran into the intersection and scooped up the other duck. I heard shouts and honks—car honks, not ducks. Cars sped around the woman, who stood there coddling the duck, looking down to check on it, whispering to it.
People ran out of the flower store, others flocked to help her. She ran across to our side of the street. People pulled out their cell phones and took pictures.
“You’ll be OK, you’ll be OK,” the woman kept telling the duck. She had to be a nurse, a vet or a teacher.
She was a teacher. I recognized her as Kimberly Taweel, the music teacher of She was on her way home.
No, she had never scooped up a wild duck like that before, and no, she had no particular knowledge of wild fowl.
“I saw these ducks crossing the street and someone just run over them, and I had to do something,” the teacher said. “I wasn’t even thinking.”
She was an instant hero. Others told her so. Actor Christian Prentice, who was on his way around the block to a theater for rehearsal, had earlier watched the ducks with his girlfriend. They were enchanted.
“We saw these cute little ducks just walking around the neighborhood, they were so funny,” Prentice said. “Then, I ran back because my girlfriend said, ‘The ducks are dead! Someone hit them, the ducks are dead!’ We love animals. I came running back. I’m glad they’re not.”
Only a few people in the crowd that gathered around the duck knew about the girls who were hit at the very same spot only hours before. The shaken duck was placed in a safe spot, away from the traffic. He seemed OK, a little stunned, that’s all. I was late for the meeting.
Upon hearing the story when I got to the meeting, Studio City Neighborhood Council board member Richard Neiderberg (and president of the Optimist’s Club of Studio City) suggested strongly that I write about it for Patch. Los Angeles Police Senior Lead Officer Mike Lewis wasn’t sure if a hit-and-run for a duck was against the law, but said he’d look into it. Officer Lewis told the group that despite reports of home break-ins all around us, Studio City remains a safe little community—among the safest in all Los Angeles.
I went back to check on the duck a few hours later after the meeting, and I was urged by Beth Dymond to take home some cookies and Fig Newtons. The duck was there where we left him, hiding behind a bush, and I fed him. He ate all the cookies I had. He still seemed afraid. I found a paper cup in the road, ripped it in half and left some water.
No, I couldn’t take the duck home. The trauma of being around my dogs would be even worse than getting hit by a car. Others I knew in the neighborhood had cats. I left a note by a tree to let people know about the duck, and called some friends who have taken in ducks at their home nearby in Valley Village. They rushed out there and found five others also looking for the duck. Someone took it to a shelter, one thought.
As I drove home, I purposefully took the back roads through Studio City so that I would have to stop at every intersection where there’s either a STOP sign or a dip in the road. I saw an elderly lady walking her dog, I saw kids shooting hoops in the dark, I saw big birds flying through the live oaks, I saw a couple holding hands walking toward Vitello’s, I saw a meter maid leaving tickets on improperly parked cars.
Studio City truly is such a beautiful, peaceful and safe community. But it seems like we all need to slow down a little bit. Especially after a day like Tuesday.
It really doesn’t matter if there’s a crosswalk, or what the speed limit is, or who is at fault.
And even if Studio City is the safest place in all of Los Angeles, it still should be safe for two little girls to cross the street—and two little ducks, as well.
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