“It was only a few seconds that she turned away, but it was the crucial few seconds . . . ,” Deputy Dist. Atty. Ed Greene said.
Meri’s mother had just dropped her off for school in the 700 block of Glenwood Road .
Park also had just dropped off her daughter at Mark Keppel Elementary School, which is on the same street.
As she was pulling away from the school, Park turned her head for a few seconds to wave at a friend and struck Meri, Greene said.
Park immediately stopped her vehicle, which was going about 10 mph during the crash, police said.
Meri, who was a sixth-grader at the middle school, was taken to Glendale Adventist Medical Center, where she was pronounced dead the same day, police said.
The District Attorney’s Office is charging Park with manslaughter because she was negligent in her actions, but not grossly negligent, Greene said.
Park’s attorney, Alexandra McConnel, argued that she didn’t see how death could be caused from a person’s turning her head from the road.
A witness, McConnel said, also didn’t see any lights flash on the marked crosswalk. Lights on a marked crosswalk are activated when a person presses a button to walk, and it also alerts motorists that a pedestrian is walking.
The police report also didn’t note that lights were activated, she said.
Pedestrians should also be vigilant of the road, McConnel said.
But Judge Stan Blumenfeld argued that if a motorist turns her head while driving, that could lead to death.
He allowed Park to be released from jail on her own recognizance because he said she had no prior convictions or run-ins with law enforcement.
McConnel pleaded with Blumenfeld that Park be allowed to keep her driver’s license because she said Park was the only person who was able to pick up her children from school. But he ordered that her driver’s license be surrendered to the court.
“I do have concern in light of the allegations,” he said.
A pretrial hearing for Park is scheduled for Jan. 15 in the Superior Court.
VERONICA ROCHA covers public safety and the courts. She may be reached at (818) 637-3232 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.