Los Angeles City Councilman David Ryu and a foundation that honors families who have lost loved ones to hit-and-run collisions placed a memorial Friday at the intersection of Woodman Avenue and Addison Street.
Friday’s memorial is the start of the Rainbow Halos program to pay tribute to lives lost on the streets of Los Angeles as a way to raise traffic safety awareness.
“Even one life lost on our roads is one too many, and the tragedies these families have suffered can never be repaired,” Ryu said. “But our road design and driving behavior can.”
The first Rainbow Halo, created by artist John Morse, memorializes Conor Lynch, a 16-year-old struck by a hit-and-run driver while crossing the intersection en route to cross country training in 2010 near Notre Dame High School in Sherman Oaks. He was struck at an intersection by an 18-year-old driver who at first wasn’t aware she had hit him, according to the Los Angeles Daily News in 2014.
Out of his death, his mother, Jeri Dye Lynch, created the Conor Lynch Foundation to support new and existing programs that raise awareness about the dangers of distracted driving and promote the safety of runners, pedestrians, cyclists and young drivers.
“No one should experience the loss our family suffered. Southern California Families for Safe Streets members channel our grief into action to prevent others from enduring the same pain,” Lynch said. “By honoring those we’ve lost, we hope the Rainbow Halo project inspires people to join us in advocating for smarter street design, slower speeds and safer behavior.”
SoCal FSS is a group of individuals who have lost a loved one in a traffic collision or survived a severe crash to identify locations for the Rainbow Halo memorials, which has partnered with LADOT for the program. The halos are multicolored discs that hang overhead on a signal, light, or signpost at or near the site of a fatal traffic collision. When sunlight shines through the disc, it casts a rainbow-colored shadow on the ground. An accompanying plaque explains the significance of the halo, according to LADOT.
“Every 36 hours in Los Angeles, someone is killed in a traffic collision, leaving behind shattered families and communities throughout the city,” said Debbie Hsiung, co-founder of SoCal FSS, who lost her 7-year-old son, Aidan, while walking together in a crosswalk in 2014. “We know what needs to be done to end traffic deaths; this problem has clear solutions, but it will take every Angeleno prioritizing safety to end senseless traffic deaths.”
Families who want a Rainbow Halo to memorialize their loved one can contact SoCal FSS at email@example.com.
LADOT plans to install 100 Rainbow Halo memorials around the city to memorialize individuals who died in traffic crashes.