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DRIVING SPEED MONITORED DEADLY CRASH PROMPTS MOTORIST CRACKDOWN.

Byline: Orith Goldberg Staff Writer

SANTA CLARITA - While the high-speed collision that took four lives last week drew microscopic attention to the teen driver, sheriff's traffic deputies said speeding is a problem in Santa Clarita, and violators cross all age lines.

Deputies said Thursday that speeders run the gamut: parents speeding near schools, drivers arguing with passengers and motorists using cellular phones and not paying attention to their speed.

``The bottom line is speed kills,'' said Los Angeles County Sheriff's Sgt. Steve Mulcahy, who has been in law enforcement more than 30 years.

On Thursday, one week after Santa Clarita's most deadly traffic collision, eight motorists were stopped in just 30 minutes in a speeding crackdown on Wiley Canyon Road, south of Lyons Avenue.

Using a laser sensor, Deputies Brian Lendman and Richard Phares monitored cars driving toward them, motioning for speeding motorists to pull over to the side of the road.

The reactions they encountered varied from surprise at their speed to tears.

Tears flooded a 36-year-old woman's eyes after she was pulled over for traveling too fast for the posted speed limit near Wabuska Street.

``I think it's bull----. There's no speed limit posted after the school. Don't these guys have anything better to do?'' she said.

A 26-year-old man, stopped for driving over the posted 35 mph limit with his 17-month-old infant in the back seat, called the crackdown ridiculous.

``Every car here is going over 50 mph,'' he said.

On Feb. 17, four people died in a collision on Soledad Canyon Road near Sand Canyon Road, a tragedy blamed on a speeding motorist with two prior speeding tickets. Motorist Marcus Lellan, 18, was traveling about 90 mph and lost control of the car that hit an oncoming Ford Mustang, deputies said. He has since pleaded not guilty to four counts of manslaughter and remains jailed.

``At the speed he was going, from the time he lost control of the vehicle and impacted the Mustang, those people had 2 1/2 to three seconds to live. That's what is sad,'' Mulcahy said.

Sheriff's deputies said that motorists often speed near their homes.

Lellan lives near Soledad Canyon Road.

``They are familiar with the roadways, so they are comfortable.'' Mulcahy said. ``(Lellan) was familiar with the area and probably thought he could handle the decision he made.''

While residents often call the Santa Clarita Valley sheriff's station to complain about speeding, motorists are upset when they're ticketed for speeding.

Deputy Brad Thompson remembered stopping a woman with two preschoolers in the car and pointing out that safety is more important than getting someplace fast.

``I told her there is nothing that important to risk your two kids,'' Thompson said.

Deputies said they often catch motorists violating speeding laws on main thoroughfares, such as Soledad Canyon Road, Wiley Canyon Road, Bouquet Canyon Road, Sierra Highway Valley Street and Seco Canyon Road.

California Highway Patrol Sgt. Rick Sirovy said speeding often occurs along the Antelope Valley Freeway north of Sand Canyon Road and the Golden State Freeway, between Templin Highway and State Highway 138.

Sirovy said it is tragic when motorists doing everything right die because of another's speeding.

``Speed is a factor in many, if not all, of these collisions,'' Sirovy said.

Last year, deputies from the Santa Clarita Valley sheriff's station issued about 6,858 traffic tickets, slightly fewer than in 1998.

CAPTION(S):

2 photos

Photo: (1 -- SAC edition only) Holding a laser speed sensor, Deputy Richard Phares watches a road in Newhall while a partner tickets a speeder.

(2 -- color in SAC edition) Deputy Brian Lendman aims the laser to register the speed of an oncoming car Thursday, during a crackdown in the wake of a deadly high-speed collision.

Hans Gutknecht/Staff Photographer

Box: High speed areas
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Feb 25, 2000
Words:631
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