Police say Santa Monica man was driving drunk when he struck and killed a woman on Pershing Drive, then sped away

By Kellie Chudzinski

Patricia Ann O’Donnell and friend Hanala Sagal recently went out dancing at The Warehouse

Los Angeles police have arrested a Santa Monica man who investigators believe was driving under the influence when he struck and killed a pedestrian in Playa del Rey early this morning and sped away from the scene.

At around 1:15 a.m. Thursday, a 48-year-old woman who has been identified as Patricia A. O’Donnell was struck by a car while she was standing in the street on Pershing Drive between Manchester and Campdell Street, near Tandoor-A-India and Hacienda Playa.

According to police, surveillance camera footage shows O’Donnell exiting the nearby laundromat with a friend, retrieving a skateboard and headlamp from her parked SUV, and then skating around the parking lot before moving out into the street.

The driver who struck O’Donnell did not stop after colliding with her and continued north toward Culver Boulevard. Police identified the vehicle as an Audi A5 and later arrested Patrick Finkelstein in nearby Santa Monica. Finkelstein is being held on $100,000 bail for suspicion of vehicular manslaughter while driving under the influence.

O’Donnell was pronounced dead at the scene by and later identified by the Los Angeles County Coroner’s office. Part of Pershing Drivewas blocked off by investigators for several hours but opened before the morning rush-hour commute.

Since Finkelstein fled the scene and did not attend to or aid the victim, the incident became a felony hit-and-run. The crime is punishable by up to three years in prison and a $10,000 fine. 

LAPD Capt. Brian Wendling told CBSLA this morning that hit-and-run crashes have become unfortunately common in Los Angeles. “Stop. Identify yourself. If you get involved in a traffic collision, don’t make it a felony crime,” Wendling said. “Just stop, come forward and be part of the solution, not part of the problem.”