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Second auto wreck on property has resident feeling vulnerable

A drowsy driver crashed into a tree in front of a Mills Avenue home early Sunday morning, destroying a memorial to a killed Claremont woman.

The driver, a 31-year-old man, was driving eastbound on Radcliffe Drive when he allegedly fell asleep and crashed his Honda Accord into the tree in front of the house just before 3 a.m., according to Lt. Karlan Bennett of the Claremont Police Department.

Amy Dellosa, who lives at the house, awoke to the sounds of tires screeching and a crash. She told the COURIER that she ran downstairs to a scene of smoke everywhere. A tree in front of her house was toppled over into the driveway, with a wrecked car in its place. She called 911.

“He was dead center,” Ms. Dellosa said of the driver.

The driver complained of pain and was transported to a hospital, Lt. Bennett said.

The tree was the site of a memorial to Claremont resident Leslie Pray, who was killed while riding her bicycle on Mills in November 2018. Sandra Wicksted, 61, allegedly drove into Ms. Pray intentionally, and was arrested on suspicion of murder.

Ms. Wicksted has a mental competency hearing set for July 25, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office.

A memorial to Ms. Pray was placed at the foot of the tree, including a Ghost Bike, a bicycle spray-painted white propped up at the site where a cyclist dies. Photos of Ms. Pray, candles and other items were also left at the spot.

After the accident, Ms. Dellosa said a second Ghost Bike would not be installed due to the wishes of Ms. Pray’s life partner.

“She requested the bike not be replaced,” Ms. Dellosa said.

She is advocating for stoplights to be placed at the intersection of Mills and Radcliffe, even though she acknowledged they would not have prevented both accidents.

In the morning, Ms. Dellosa said, the street becomes “like a game of Frogger” as kids and parents congregate at nearby Chaparral Elementary School.

“I want the city to be proactive instead of reactive and take a stand and put a light here,” she said.

She is also calling for the city to place a larger replacement tree at the site of the crash. She said they want to put a smaller tree at the site, and quoted Ms. Dellosa’s mother at $200 to $800, if they wanted to put a larger tree at the site.

Ultimately, after two accidents in front of her home, Ms. Dellosa feels “vulnerable.”

“We get the hugs and thoughts and prayers, but at the end of the day you still feel vulnerable,” she said. “You lose a sense of security.”

Matthew Bramlett

news@claremont-courier.com