Comedian Tony Baker is bringing attention to an online petition calling for an end to illegal street racing in the southern California city where his son and two others died earlier this month in a fiery crash caused by two other cars racing each other.
Cerain Anthony Raekwon Baker, 21, was killed along with fellow passengers 20-year-old Jaiden Johnson and 19-year-old Natalee Moghaddam when they were struck by another driver who had been street racing around 11:30 p.m. on Aug. 3 in Burbank. The silver Volkswagen in which the three were traveling was split in half and they were ejected from the vehicle.
The new petition, launched on the Change.org website, is calling for five measures to be implemented in Burbank, where the petition says residents in the community say illegal street racing has been an issue “for more than a decade” as their complaints have gone unanswered.
“There has [sic] been countless incidents over the years but nothing to this magnitude,” the petition says in part.
The petition demands that Burbank “takes responsibility” and called on law enforcement to bring criminal charges agsinst the drivers who caused the deadly crash.
The five measures that the petition says should be impolemented include increasing police presence and patrols in the area from 9 p.m. to 3 a.m.; installing red light cameras and unmanned vehicles with radars and/or cameras inside; posting digital speed limit signs that flash when drivers exceed the speed limit; installing speed bumps “and other speeding deterrents;” and programming traffic lights “to alternate signals more often” during the increased latenight police presence.
“This needs to be done now,” the petition says. “No one else should feel this pain that we are going through.”
As of early Wednesday morning, the petition needed about 12,000 more signatures to reach its goal of 50,000.
Tony Baker addressed that pain in a series of social media posts days after the crash on Aug. 6. He said he was sad but was also trying to use humor as a coping mechanism to help him get past the pain he said he and his family were experiencing with the sudden loss of Cerain.
“Myself and My Family are overwhelmed with the love and care from friends, fans and complete strangers,” he wrote. “I FEEL the love.”
Tony Baker also sent his condolences to the families of Johnson and Moghaddam while explaining that during a vigil on Wednesday, he was “was howling crying one minute, then crackin jokes the next.”
Criminal charges may be filed in connection with the crash, according to NBC Los Angeles. According to a preliminary report, a driver behind the wheel of a gray Kia was racing with a driver in a black Mercedes Benz when the driver of the silver Volkswagen carrying Baker attempted to make a left turn. That resulted in a vicious collision.
The individual in the Kia sustained serious injuries and had to be removed from the car. The two individuals in the Mercedes weren’t injured and were later interviewed by police.
“I’ve been doing this for 20 years, and I haven’t seen anything like this before,” Sgt. Emil Brimway of the Burbank Police Department said. “We recently put out a public service announcement about speeding and street racing and how it is illegal and dangerous. We also do targeted enforcement with our traffic bureau, as well as our patrol officers, on a regular basis.”
He added, “This collision remains under investigation by Burbank Police Department traffic detectives. Upon completion of this investigation, detectives will present the case to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office for criminal filing consideration.”
The deadly crash came just hours after a Los Angeles council member introduced a motion to create deterrents to illegal street racing, including measures like speed bumps, raised center medians, curb extensions and traffic circles.
“Enforcement cannot be the only solution,” Los Angeles Councilwoman Monica Rodriguez said while introducing the motion just hours before the crash the killed Cerain, Johnson and Moghaddam, NBC Los Angeles reported. “We need to also include a proactive approach using street design elements that make it difficult for drivers to conduct the type of street takeovers and speed events that are endangering our communities.”