LAPD truck strikes, kills pedestrian in Playa del Rey

A Los Angeles police officer driving a bomb squad utility truck struck and killed a pedestrian early Monday morning near the intersection of Culver and Jefferson boulevards in Playa del Rey, an area surrounded by the Ballona Wetlands.

The victim has been identified as Dean Joseph Bucheit, 64. He is believed to be homeless and was pronounced dead at the scene after the officer, a 20-year veteran of the force, attempted CPR.

Investigators believe Bucheit was walking along the shoulder area of Culver Boulevard when he was struck by the officer’s vehicle at about 12:15 a.m., LAPD officer Norma Eisenman said.

The darkly lit area was under dense fog at the time.

The officer was reportedly driving home from duty at the time of the crash, which Eisenman said remains under investigation.

Bucheit’s is not the first traffic-related death on Culver between Lincoln Boulevard and the commercial center of Playa del Rey.

Marina del Rey resident Brigitte Burndine was struck and killed by a hit-and-run driver near Culver and Nicholson Street in December 2010. The city later temporarily deployed a speed feedback sign, a device that warns drivers who are exceeding posted speed limits, at the intersection of Culver and Vista del Mar.

Neighborhood Council of Westchester-Playa Vice President Mark Redick, who lives in Playa del Rey, suffered a concussion when a motorist attempting a left turn from Culver onto Jefferson struck his vehicle in December 2013.

Redick said he was driving westbound along Culver on Sunday night, hours before Bucheit was struck, when a man suddenly emerged from the wetlands and ran in front of his car.

“The problem is visibility. That area has very poor lighting and it was very foggy that night,” Redick said.

The stretch of Culver west of Lincoln is maintained by Caltrans, and state officials also oversee the Ballona Wetlands. Redick said the area could use more lighting and “on a property that size, the state should have more patrols so that homeless people aren’t living there.”

— Gary Walker


Washington Boulevard Costco to expand

Albertsons is leaving the busiest strip mall in the universe, leaving Costco Wholesale Corp. an opportunity to expand its store on Washington Boulevard just east of Lincoln Boulevard, part of the Culver City panhandle that extends through Mar Vista to Marina del Rey.

Culver City Community Development Deputy Director Todd Tipton said his office is processing an application that would extend the 13463 Washington Blvd. Costco into the space currently occupied by Albertsons.

A Costco spokesman declined to speak about the move. Signs posted at Albertsons say the store will close at the end of the month.

— Gary Walker


Virginia Bortin, 1936 – 2015

Virginia Bortin, who as a Los Angeles County employee founded the annual Marina del Rey Summer Concert Series at Burton Chace Park, died on Jan. 17 after a brief illness. She was 78.

Bortin, who retired to Pennsylvania, also co-authored two books and produced a series of radio documentaries. The Marina del Rey Summer Concert Series completed its 14th season last year.

— Joe Piasecki