At about 1:55 a.m. on Monday, March 30, neighbors on the 600 block of N. Highland Ave. were awakened by a loud crash, and called 911 to report that two vehicles had collided on the street, with one of them bursting into flames after hitting a palm tree in the Highland median.
On Tuesday, Ofcr. Joel Twycross, who works with the Traffic Detectives at LAPD’s West Traffic Bureau, confirmed to the Buzz that the collision resulted in three fatalities, two of whom – the drivers of the cars involved – died at the scene, while the third was a passenger who died later at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. A fourth person, a woman riding in one of the cars, was also taken to Cedars and survived, Twycross said. The drivers were later identified as Nathaniel Joseph, 28, and Keante Hoyett, 27. The identity of the other man who died has not yet been released.
According to Twycross, local security camera footage shows that the two black BMW sedans were racing side by side in the southbound lanes of Highland, at “a very high rate of speed,” and collided just south of Melrose Ave. The cars veered off into the median, where they hit two palm trees, one of which was fully knocked down and the other of which “had a chunk taken out of it.” One driver was ejected from his vehicle.
Despite the late hour and relatively clear streets, Twycross cautioned, “It’s never safe to speed – ever – especially on residential streets with houses on both sides…and street racing is always dangerous.”
This was the same block where journalist Michael Hastings perished in a fiery, late-night, single-car crash in 2013.
Cindy Chvatal-Keane, president of the Hancock Park Homeowners’ Association, told the Buzz that the group will assess the tree damage on the median, “and of course the HPHOA will replace any that were damaged.”