Teen singing star Justin Bieber has called the death of a paparazzo who was killed crossing the road to take photos of Bieber’s Ferrari “a tragic accident,” as Andrew Blankstein writes for the Los Angeles Times blog L.A. NOW. Blankstein reports that the accident took place before 6 p.m. Tuesday, on Sepulveda Boulevard near Getty Center Drive in Los Angeles.
LAPD Sgt. Rudy Lopez told L.A. Now that California Highway Patrol pulled over Bieber’s white Ferrari on the 405 Freeway for a traffic stop, and an officer directed the driver of Bieber’s car onto Sepulveda. Michael Sheridan reports in the New York Daily News that Bieber was not even in his car, which was being driven by his pal, rapper Lil Twist, according to TMZ.
TMZ writes that the photographer, who it identifies as Chris Guerra, had been on the trail of Bieber’s car, having told his agency he had spotted it earlier in the day at the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills along with the car of Bieber’s girlfriend, Selena Gomez.
According to CNN, which does not give the photographer’s name, LAPD spokesman James Stoughton said the paparazzo spotted the Ferrari, parked his own vehicle across the street, and crossed the street to take photos of it and its occupants. CNN affiliate KTLA said that officers twice told the photographer to return to his car. But when he crossed the street to get back to his car, he was struck by a car, Stoughton said.
CNN quotes the 18-year-old Bieber:
‘While I was not present nor directly involved with this tragic accident, my thoughts and prayers are with the family of the victim,’ Bieber said in a statement.
‘Hopefully this tragedy will finally inspire meaningful legislation and whatever other necessary steps to protect the lives and safety of celebrities, police officers, innocent public bystanders, and the photographers themselves.’
Blankstein writes that sources said the photographer was not crossing at a crosswalk, and that the driver whose car hit him was fully cooperating with authorities. Sheridan writes that the photographer was rushed to Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, where he died. He was 29 years old, TMZ writes.
CNN notes that back in July, L.A. city councilman Dennis Zine predicted, as this blog has reported, that paparazzi’s run-ins with Bieber could end tragically, after a high-speed chase at that time. Zine, who is a reservist on the LAPD, was on a freeway in July when he spotted a group of paparazzi chasing Bieber.
Regarding Zine’s July comments, CNN writes:
‘He was coming up behind me, making abrupt lane changes, not giving signals, cutting off cars,’ Zine said. The photographers were keeping up with Bieber, thick on his heels.
Zine said he expected to see a crash and feared someone could die.
The lawmaker, known for supporting tough measures against obnoxious paparazzi behavior, alerted the highway patrol, who ticketed Bieber for speeding in his Fisker Karma, an expensive electric sports car.