A photographer who documented Southern California car culture died at an illegal street racing event in Carson Friday, Dec. 25, after two vehicles veered into spectators.
Daniel “Dano” Patten, who lived in Huntington Beach, was fatally struck on Christmas day at about 1:30 pm near East 230th and Banning Streets in Carson, his brother, Orange resident Russ Patten said. Daniel Patten was filming drag races at what sheriff’s officials said was an illicit gathering.
“I did tell him on Christmas, when we talked, ‘Be careful going out to the street races,’” said his friend, Irvine resident Brian Almas. “A couple of the guys who were with him said, ‘Hey Dano we need to leave, this is dangerous today.’”
Patten, 66, drew a following with his posts showcasing hot rods and muscle cars at organized venues in and around Southern California.
Illegal street racing “totally wasn’t his scene,” his girlfriend, Tammy LaFlamme, of La Mirada, said. However, with many events canceled to reduce the spread of COVID-19, she and Almas believe boredom may have brought the prolific videographer to an event he would not have gone to otherwise.
Footage shot in Carson and posted to social media that day shows a black Cadillac sedan racing a blue car, which slam into each other and then barrel into a crowd of people. The legs of an apparently injured spectator lying on the ground can be seen a short distance from two wrecked vehicles in another video recorded near the crash site.
Patten died at the scene. Five other people were hospitalized, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Deputy Morgan Arteaga said. The drivers who took part in the street race fled the scene, she said.
Relatives knew something was wrong when Patten didn’t show up for dinner with his brother, LaFlamme said. She spent the whole night trying to reach him, then rushed to Carson Saturday morning with friends after learning he might have been involved in a collision. There, they found Patten’s van, along with remnants of the crash that killed him.
A set of tire marks stretched from a street covered in burnt rubber and onto the sidewalk, leading to a tree where mourners laid candles, flowers and other offerings. Shattered chunks of the sports car’s side-view mirror laid on the curb, not far from the makeshift memorial.
Dozens of people who knew Patten either personally or through his videos and photos came to pay their respects over the weekend. Some performed burnouts in muscle cars or bobbed up and down the street in their lowriders. Most shared stories and told his brother and niece how much he will be missed.
“I’ve never seen so many grown men crying,” LaFamme said.
Russ Patten said his brother didn’t need to agree with people to get along with them. He described him as a “neat freak” who washed his van every day, and a dynamo who would show up early and leave late to photograph every car at an event.
LaFlamme said Patten had an encyclopedic knowledge of automobiles along with a deep passion for photography, and served as a mentor to her and many others. Almas, through tears, called Patten his best friend and thanked him for capturing so many memories in untold hours of videos and images.
“He’d always ask me ‘You see that latest video I put out?’ And I’d say, ‘You mean the one that’s ninety minutes long? Yeah sure, the first ten minutes of it, ”Russ Patten said with a chuckle.
The numerous people who have reached out to him and his daughter in the wake of his brother’s death have eased the grieving process, he said. Russ Patten was confident the people responsible for the crash will be brought to justice, and urged them to “make things easier on everyone.
“Turn yourselves in.”
Loved ones are planning a cruise through Huntington Beach in Daniel Patten’s memory on Wednesday, Jan. 6. Information about the event will be distributed by the Surf City Classics car club on social media.
Staff photographer Mindy Schauer contributed to this report.