A photographer trying to snap pictures of Justin Bieber’s white Ferrari being pulled over by California Highway Patrol was struck and killed by another motorist in Los Angeles on Tuesday. The 18-year-old singer wasn’t behind the wheel – or even in the car – when the accident took place (one of his friends – reportedly a rapper named Lil Twist – had borrowed the vehicle), but issued a statement saying his “thoughts and prayers are with the family of the victim” and he hopes “this tragedy will finally inspire meaningful legislation … to protect the lives and safety of celebrities, police officers, innocent public bystanders, and the photographers themselves."
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The “Boyfriend” singer is relatively new to the road – he was only issued a driver’s license in 2010 – but he has been a paparazzi magnet since the day he passed his driving test. However, the interest in him behind the wheel only seems to have intensified as of late. Not only is there constant curiosity in his personal life (and whether on-again, off-again girlfriend Selena Gomez is in the passenger seat), but he also drives a number of very flashy and very expensive sports cars – including multiple Ferraris, which reportedly retail for over $200,000, and a $100,000 chrome Fisker Karma – making him not exactly go unnoticed on the roads.
While Bieber wasn’t involved in this particular incident, he has had a string of other car troubles since he passed his road test – some paparazzi-related and some not. The most notable one took place in July when he was pulled over on a Los Angeles freeway after getting into a high-speed chase with photographers. Bieber, who was behind the wheel in his Fisker Karma, was cited for driving in a "reckless manner at speeds in excess of 65 mph," a police spokesperson said. However, he was reportedly going much faster than that! Witnesses told TMZ Bieber exceeded 100 mph as he tried to flee the ’razzi, many of whom snapped his photo when he was stopped by police.
In November, Bieber also had a police run-in when he was pulled over in his white Ferrari – the same one his friends were driving Tuesday – and cited for making an unsafe left turn as well as having an expired registration. The singer didn’t seem very concerned though. During the traffic stop, he snapped a photo of the police car’s flashing lights in the driver’s side mirror and posted it to Twitter, though he later had second thoughts and deleted the pic.
Bieber has also been stopped two additional times in his other ride – a custom Cadillac CTS-V modified to look like the Batmobile. During one occurrence – in December 2011 – the police pulled him over for making an "unsafe left turn" at an intersection. He must have turned on the charm though because he skated away with just a warning. He also talked his way out of another ticket just two months earlier. While driving around in a motorcade of sorts with two other cars (his friend rapper Sean Kingston was in one), Bieber cut off a police officer. All three vehicles were pulled over, but Bieber made nice with the officers, who sent them all on their way with a warning.
As details unfold about Tuesday’s incident – the freelance photographer, who was identified by TMZ as Chris Guerra, was hit on the 405 highway and later died at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center – other celebs have started to weigh in on the tragedy. Miley Cyrus spoke out, taking a firm position. "Hope this paparazzi/JB accident brings on some changes in '13 Paparazzi are dangerous! Wasn't Princess Di enough of a wake up call?!” she tweeted. “It is unfair for anyone to put this on to Justin’s conscious as well! This was bound to happen! Your mom teaches u when your a child not to play in the street! The chaos that comes with the paparazzi acting like fools makes it impossible for anyone to make safe choices.”
TMZ reports that Guerra thought he was on to a huge story on a very slow news day, and that may have been why he was trailing the car so closely. A source with the same photo agency that Guerra worked for told the news outlet that Guerra called him on Tuesday and said, “Man, you won't believe my luck. It's pretty dead in L.A. Everybody thinks Justin and Selena are in Mexico, but they're not.” The source also adds that the deceased photog thought he had seen Bieber smoking marijuana before he got in his vehicle.
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