RB Aviation crash

Redondo Beach police closed Aviation Boulevard between Artesia and Manhattan Beach boulevards for several hours Tuesday as they conducted a follow-up investigation into last week's fatal car accident

A fatal car accident on Aviation Boulevard in Redondo Beach last week has nearby businesses pushing again for improved safety measures.

William J. Goldstein Jr. of Crestwood, Ky., was killed Oct. 9 around 5:35 p.m. when two cars collided in the 3300 block of Aviation Boulevard. Police have released few details about the accident, but witnesses said Goldstein was the passenger in a car that was broadsided during rush hour traffic. Goldstein died of blunt force injury to his torso, according to the Los Angeles County Department of Coroner.

The police department closed the stretch of Aviation between Artesia and Manhattan Beach boulevards for several hours Tuesday for a “time-sensitive” follow-up investigation.

That stretch of Aviation Boulevard, particularly between Ninth and 10th Street has always been dangerous, nearby business owners said, with speeding cars, frequent turns, and cars halting to turn on to side streets, creating a pileup of tense drivers.

“What we were fearing finally came true: that someone would die,” said Nick Bhanji, owner of Rainbow Cleaners near the corner of Aviation and 10th Street.

Bhanji heard the screeching sounds of the accident last week and was one of the first on the scene.

“It’s unfortunate that it takes a human life for (city officials) to wake up and see how dangerous it is. They have to do something. They have to slow the traffic,” he said.

Bhanji and fellow tenants on that strip of Aviation started a petition to install a stop sign or stoplight at Ninth or 10th Street and Aviation.

Bhanji has witnessed countless accidents since his business opened more than 25 years ago, and more than a few in recent months. In one, a motorcyclist was hit and flew off the bike. In another, an SUV hit a tree and flipped over.

“If you get a green light at Artesia, you come flying down, and the only light stopping you is Second Street. What makes it more dangerous is as soon as you pass Second Street, there is a hill. The bottom of the hill is where Ninth Street is. If someone is taking a left or right, they’re going to get creamed,” Bhanji said.

Tony Lubrano, who has owned Valentino’s Pizza at the corner of Aviation and 10th Street for more than 20 years, was also on the scene of last week’s collision.

“Seeing a man die in his car like that is heartbreaking,” he said. “It’s very, very sad that it takes a fatality to discuss this again. This is my nightmare.”

Safety on Aviation Boulevard has long been a debate between business owners such as Bhanji and Lubrano and the cities. The Blue Zones Project’s proposal to install a bike lane on Aviation Boulevard immediately stirred up concern from the business owners last year.

“It’s like putting a playground on a freeway,” Lubrano said.

If there are already accidents, including fatalities, currently, how much worse will it get with a bike lane and no additional safety measures, they questioned.

Bhanji said the business owners would like to see a crosswalk, a stop sign, something to slow speeding cars.

People have attributed their opposition to the bike lane on being “business-minded,” he said, that they’re only thinking about the health of their businesses.

“The opposite is true,” he said. “It would help us to put in a bike lane because people would (bike by) and notice our business. But I don’t want blood money. … We need to let people know you just can’t floor it.”

The police department is seeking information about the Oct. 9 collision. Anyone who witnessed the accident or has more information should contact Investigator Bill Turner at (310) 379-2477 x. 2721 or email bill.turner@redondo.org.

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