Even at 101 years old, Otto Jensen showed little sign of slowing down. The former boxer from Denmark still ran a photography studio and often could be seen crossing the street in front of it to get to a senior center he frequented.
On Tuesday night, while crossing that four-lane Burbank street, Jensen was struck and killed by a car driven by a 91-year-old woman.
Jensen was a well-known figure in his hometown, where he served as grand marshal of the city’s centennial parade last year. His death saddened the community just north of Los Angeles. A poster tied to a tree near the crash scene had photos of Jensen, including one taken in 1930 when he was a 19-year-old boxer nicknamed “Bonecrusher.” Another was dated last year, when he turned 100.
Someone left a quote attributed to Jensen and placed it among the photos on the tree.
“I believe there is something truly beautiful beyond death that we can only glimpse, but never fully understand,” the quote read.
Jensen, who ran his photo studio for 60 years, remained interested in boxing and was an avid fan of Manny Pacquiao, the world champion fighter from the Philippines. In an interview last year with the sports Web site ESNEWS, Jensen lauded Pacquiao as the greatest ever and spoke about living so long. He demonstrated a quick wit and even shadow boxed briefly.
When asked what it feels like to be 100, Jensen quipped: “The same as 99.”
Jensen said he smoked two cigars a day and had an 87-year-old girlfriend. The secret to life, he said, was “to live and love.” Then, after a pause, he added: “But you need a few women to do that.”
Police are unsure what led to the accident, but said Jensen was crossing legally, although there was not a crosswalk where he was hit and he nearly was across the street when he was struck.
The driver, Mary Beaumont, stopped at the scene, but was not arrested or cited. She said on Wednesday that she was fine and declined further comment.
Norman Sutcliffe, a screenwriter, lives in an apartment near the accident scene and was watching American Idol when he heard an enormous crash. Moments later, a young woman told him she had seen Jensen “jogging” across the street before he was struck.
The impact sent him flying through the air, Sutcliffe said the woman told him.
Sutcliffe hurried to Jensen’s aid.
“I said, ‘Sir, are you OK? You had an accident. Help is on the way,’” Sutcliffe said. “I’ve never seen more blood in my life.”
Sutcliffe said elderly citizens often cross the busy intersection to go to the senior center. He has called police, expressing concern.
Jensen lived in a house behind his studio, where the front windows are adorned with black-and-white photos of children. Family members and friends who gathered at Jensen’s home declined to comment.