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Pedestrian accidents prompt Santa Rosa police 'outreach' program

  • Santa Rosa police investigate the scene of an accident on West Steele Lane where a 14-year-old girl was struck by a car Thursday night while walking across the street with another teenager. (MARK ARONOFF/The Press Democrat)

Santa Rosa police will increase traffic enforcement of pedestrian safety laws and will target schoolchildren with education programs in the wake of yet another accident involving a car hitting a teenager.

“We need to be proactive and create some message to the schools immediately,” said Rafael Rivero, the Santa Rosa Police Department’s community outreach specialist. “The main message is that a crosswalk is not a shield and you still have to use common sense anytime you step into the street.”

Police issued reminders Friday that motorists and pedestrians must exercise caution on city streets as 14-year-old Jennifer Daisy Huey of Santa Rosa was hospitalized with head trauma injuries. Huey was struck Thursday evening while crossing West Steele Lane by a driver who apparently did not see her.

Sgt. Doug Schlief said Huey and another teen, Rafael Otero Jr., 15, were crossing between Northcoast Street and Apple Valley Lane toward Coddingtown when she was struck by a Ford Taurus. They were not in a crosswalk when the eastbound sedan driven by Santa Rosa resident Catherine Bickel, 49, came upon them, police said.

The girl was thrown onto the car, rolled up against the windshield and then was hurled back down to the street, Santa Rosa Fire Battalion Chief Jack Piccinini said. She was taken to a Santa Rosa hospital and then to Oakland Children’s Center, Schlief said.

The incident came just 24 hours after two Maria Carrillo High School teens were struck, one seriously injured, in a Calistoga Road crosswalk and three weeks after Santa Rosa High School sophomore Michelle Cordova died of injuries suffered when she was struck in a West College Avenue crosswalk at Link Lane.

Presentations in classrooms and school assemblies will increase as a result of renewed awareness that pedestrian safety must be emphasized as much as bike safety has been in recent years, Rivero said. He is drafting postcard-sized material that will be distributed to students listing safety measures.

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