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Criminal Justice

Driver Charged With Murder After Cyclist Killed In Griffith Park During Ride For Charity

A bird's-eye view of Griffith Park's dirt trails and winding asphalt roads.
Griffith Park.
(Andrew Cullen for LAist)
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A driver suspected of striking and killing a cyclist in Griffith Park over the weekend has been charged with murder. Authorities allege the man was drunk at the time of the collision.

The cyclist, 77-year-old Andrew Jelmert, was killed while on a charity ride. A "ghost bike" vigil was planned for Wednesday night in his honor, following a tradition of placing an all-white bike to memorialize a rider who has been killed.

Authorities said Jairo Martínez, 37, struck Jelmert on April 16 and then attempted to flee. The Los Angeles County District Attorney's office said Martínez was arrested with help from witnesses at the scene.

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"What happened with Andrew hit me very, very personally," said Damian Kevitt, executive director of "Streets Are For Everyone." Kevitt was hit by a car in Griffith Park seven years ago and lost his right leg. He's among those calling for safety improvements on park roads.

"This hit home on many respects, and if I can take this — take my life experience, my tragedy — and I can take the horrific tragedy that happened with Andrew, and we can transform this into a safer park for the community — and not as a cut-through for the 5 Freeway — at least something good will come of this," Kevitt said.

City Councilmember Nithya Raman, who represents the area, said her staff is looking into improving safety along Crystal Springs Drive, where Jelmert was hit.

"Cycling in this City should never be a life or death calculation, and it is our job as City leaders to create streets that serve the needs of everyone," Raman said in a statement, adding that there "is no time to waste."

Martínez faces one felony count each of murder and hit-and-run driving resulting in death to another person, according to the DA's office. In addition, he faces a misdemeanor offense for driving while his license was suspended or revoked, because of a prior DUI conviction.

He was scheduled to be arraigned Wednesday.

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