Calling Los Angeles Artists: Support Kevyn Wallace On Monday Calling Los Angeles Artists: Support Kevyn Wallace On Monday

Calling Los Angeles Artists: Support Kevyn Wallace On Monday

Last August, animation veteran Kevyn Wallace was driving down the 134 Freeway in Los Angeles, just a half mile from the Walt Disney Feature Animation where he had worked in the layout department on films like Tarzan and Mulan. As he was driving, an L. A. driver’s worst fear was realized–he was hit by a drunk driver. Eyewitness accounts from that evening said that the other driver’s car slid around the freeway and clipped another car. Then, the driver’s car spun around and faced Kevyn’s car straight on.

The high-impact crash punctured Kevyn’s gas tank and his car exploded into flames. A couple of good samaritans stopped on the freeway and attempted to rescue him from his burning vehicle. Unable to free him, they ran back to their own cars to find something to cut the seatbelt with. The witnesses reported that Kevyn, strapped into his seat, screamed for help as he struggled to free himself. Meanwhile, Kevyn’s windshield exploded. He miraculously managed to pull himself out of the car–but not before he had suffered burns over 90% of his body. Kevyn was placed into an induced coma and died a little over a month later at the LAC+USC Burn Center.

It was a life tragically cut short at age 47. Kevyn had worked on dozens of animation projects including The Simpsons Movie, The Land Before Time series, and Bébé’s Kids, but at the time of his death, he had embarked on a new career path. He had returned to his alma mater, Art Center College of Design, to earn a Master’s degree in filmmaking. Animation remained always close to his heart. The class project he was working on was a documentary about African-American animators.

I spoke to one of Kevyn’s sisters, Niva, earlier this week. She told me about her family’s efforts to find justice for Kevyn and bring some closure to the painful event. To their disappointment, the driver who caused the crash hasn’t served any time behind bars and has been freed on bond for the past year. His punishment to date has been to wear an alcohol monitoring bracelet and to turn over his passport. The family is understandably frustrated by the drawn-out legal process, but recognizes that the judicial system will ultimately determine whether the other driver bears any responsibility for the death of Kevyn Wallace.

There’s not much Kevyn’s family can do at this point, but they are making a public plea for support from the animation community. They tell me that one of the most important hearings in the case against the other driver will take place this Monday, August 27th. The defendant may either enter an open plea or choose to continue to a jury trial, which would begin next month. Kevyn’s family is asking his friends, colleagues and fans to show up to the hearing on Monday morning. In the words of his sister, they want to “put a face on Kevyn” and show that he’s more than just a statistic.

Kevyn’s sisters have spent the last year attending all the hearings related to his case. But the court has no sense that Kevyn was part of the much larger animation family, an important contributor to the art form, and a guy who was liked and appreciated by many. Kevyn’s family feels that a courtroom filled with industry professionals could make a positive impact. It would be amazing if the 400 people who showed up at Kevyn’s memorial would show up again, but even a fraction of those people would be a powerful statement of strength and support from our community. If the defendant chooses to enter an open plea, Kevyn’s colleagues will even have a chance on Monday to make statements to the court before the sentencing.

The hearing is scheduled for this Monday, August 27th, at 8:30 AM. The hearings generally take an hour or two, but Kevyn’s family would appreciate anybody who can come, even if they can’t stay for the entire hearing. Here’s where to go:
Los Angeles Criminal Courts Building
210 West Temple Street
11th Floor, Room 114

  • Mike (thekingof8)

    I really hate when when defense attornies refer to these as “making a mistake.” Uh, this person who killed Kevyn didn’t make a mistake. They made a choice. They chose to drink, and they chose to drive home drunk.

    I really hope Kevyn’s family gets the justice they deserve.

    • I agree. The man made a choice not to take responsibility, broke the law driving drunk, and the result was involuntary manslaughter. He should pay the price with a prison sentence.

  • Lala_Marin

    I will be there in spirit.

  • Mark Sonntag

    I’m on the other side of the world and never met Kevyn but like all people feel for his family and for his friends and collegues. May justice be served. Too many people get away with a slap on the wrist, we all know the dangers of drunk driving, it’s a crime – period. Not a mistake.

  • Brian O.

    On the one hand I can understand why victims’ families ask for forgiveness but on the other hand I can appreciate why one would want a drunk driver to burn in Hell.

    May Justice Be Served.

  • The fact that the man responsible for Kevyn’s death has spent a year with LESS than a slap on the wrist isn’t just sad, it’s outrageous!

    It really is true. This country doesn’t have a justice system, we have a LEGAL system. Justice has nothing to do with it.

    I’m on the wrong coast, but all my support and love to the Wallace family. May the man who caused them so much pain be given his proper punishment and, one can only hope, justice will be served.

  • Yeeesh. What a thing. Heartbreaking really.

  • TempleDog

    Goddamnit, what a way to go. My thoughts go to the family. Anybody who can go and support them in person, do it! Just wish I could be there.

  • Jerold Howard

    Thanks for shining a light on this issue, Amid. I hope that justice is served and eventually the Wallace family is able to find peace after suffering such a horrible tragedy.

  • Sarah J

    That’s terrible! With all the PSA’s here about the dangers of drunk driving and the legal consequences, this guy KILLS a man in an accident and pretty much just gets away with it?! I really hope justice gets served.

  • Bugsmer

    That’s absolutely horrible. What a terrible way to die.

  • Paul Gladden

    I know some of you out there will be unable to attend Monday and for good reason(s). But if others in the community can attend, please do. Let’s show the judge (and defendant) we won’t stand for this injustice by putting our faces in the courtroom on Monday morning, please do what you can. Thank you all from Kevyn’s family, all his friends and me—a very close personal friend.

  • Occams Breadknife

    Please let us know what happened.