New California law hopes to limit deaths from street takeovers, reckless drivers

Despite the rain, the candles flickered Tuesday at the corner of Crenshaw Boulevard and Florence Avenue in Hyde Park where 24-year-old Elyzza Guajaca lost her life.

Police sayid Guajaca was killed and others were struck by a driver doing donuts at an illegal street takeover Christmas Night.

To Carin Koeppel, "It’s just devastating. I mean there is such an epidemic of reckless driving, street racing and takeovers."  

Koeppel knows the pain the family of Elyzza Guajaca is feeling. Her 16-year-old son Ryan was killed by a reckless driver in 2020. Ever since, she and her family have worked with legislators to create a new California law that goes into effect after the new year.

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"Ryan’s Law essentially gives prosecutors and judges more power to be able to charge drivers who drive recklessly," said Koeppel. "They can now be charged with a felony." 

Others who worked on that law include Lily Trujillo Puckett and Lori Argumedo, who also lost family members to street racing mishaps. Puckett lost her daughter, Argumedo, her niece.

"If we have more harsh laws I think that will help prevent this from happening along with the programs our organization offers," Argumedo said.

Puckett who founded said, "It will change a lot the outcome of so many takeovers going on right now."

Koeppel said the new law named after her son is meant to "educate the community and educate drivers that there are going to be harder consequences if you partake in dangerous driving."

Ryan’s Law goes into effect in California January 1, 2023. Meanwhile, police are still looking for the driver who killed Elyzza Guajaca.