Rancho Park tragedy pays tribute to victim while serving as reminder of the consequences of street racing
By Sam Catanzaro
A rainbow halo at a local intersection pays tribute to a woman who died earlier this year after a teenager driving a Lamborghini at 120 mph crashed into the 32-year-old victim’s car.
Recently, Los Angeles City Councilmember Paul Koretz and staff gathered with the family and friends of Monique Muñoz for a Rainbow Halo installation in her memory.
According to the Los Angeles Police Department, on February 17 around 5:10 p.m., a black Lamborghini SUV was traveling eastbound on Olympic Boulevard when it collided with a silver, four-door, Lexus traveling westbound on Olympic Boulevard in Rancho Park, negotiating a left turn to proceed southbound on Overland Avenue.
The Los Angeles Fire Department responded to the scene and immediately rendered aid to the driver of the Lexus. Unfortunately, the driver, 32-year-old Monique Munoz, succumbed to her injuries and died at the scene.
The male, juvenile driver of the Lamborghini was transported to a local hospital where he was admitted for medical attention. On February 23, he was booked for vehicular manslaughter. The case will proceed through the judicial process. The family of Muñoz has been demanding that the 17-year-old be charged as an adult.
In the wake of the incident, Los Angeles City Councilmember Paul Koretz has announced that safety improvements are to prevent such crashes in the future.
On April 12, a protected-left-turn signal was unveiled at Olympic at Overland, the first of many safety measures, according to Koretz. LADOT will also be installing what is known by traffic engineers as “Rest In Red” for traffic signals during off peak hours at several key intersections. In addition, LADOT will also be installing several electronic speed feedback signs that tell drivers how fast they’re going, which instinctively makes drivers assess your speed and slow down.
Following these safety changes, on a few weeks ago a rainbow halo was installed at the intersection.
“The Halo on Olympic & Overland now serves as hallowed ground to both pay tribute to Monique and also serves to remind drivers that there are very real consequences for street racing and careless driving. Councilmember Koretz will continue to stand with Monique’s family and friends, because justice for Monique must prevail and be our priority. Monique is now an angel in the City of Angels, watching over her family and friends and will continue to be remembered as a vibrant young woman who was the joy of all who knew her. She has touched us all. May she Rest In Peace,” Koretz wrote in a June 26 newsletter.
Koretz and staff were joined by SoCal Families for Safe Streets founder Jeri Dye Lynch, mother of 16-year-old Conor who was also a victim of a fatal traffic accident during his Junior Year at Notre Dame High School, when he was killed in a hit-and-run accident. The first rainbow halo was installed in 2019 to honor his memory. Also speaking was Lili Trujillo, founder of Street Racing Kills, who tragically lost her 16-year-old daughter Valentina, when she was killed by a young man who was street racing and crashed while giving her a ride home.