A 93-year-old Sonoma man was struck in a crosswalk and killed in a hit-and-run crash Wednesday while attempting to traverse the busy street on his motorized scooter.
The suspected driver, an 80-year-old Boyes Hot Springs man, had recently lost his license because he failed a driving test, according to the California Department of Motor Vehicles.
Joe Bick Kwai Lee was arrested on suspicion of felony hit-and-run with death, vehicular manslaughter and driving with a suspended license, authorities said.
Alvin Hesse, a World War II veteran and longtime KRON television employee who lived in senior housing nearby, died after he was struck as he crossed Fifth Street West on his motorized, three-wheeled scooter, police said.
The crosswalk — the same one where an 82-year-old woman was killed six years ago — had recently been outfitted with mounted flashing lights and an audible warning system, Police Chief Bret Sackett said. It also has flashing lights embedded in the pavement, he said.
But Lee told police he did not see anyone in the crosswalk, though he eventually acknowledged feeling a shudder in his steering wheel and thought he’d run over some debris, the chief said.
“He said he kind of heard it and then felt it in the steering wheel, but he looked in the rear view mirrors and didn’t see anything,” Sackett said.
Hesse’s caretaker and longtime friend, Jack Seuberth, said Hesse had been heading toward the Safeway across from Studley Street and was destined for a CVS pharmacy and coffee shop a few blocks away, where the two were supposed to meet for coffee.
Hesse used the scooter because he had difficulty walking, but was otherwise in great health and enjoyed being independent, Seuberth said. The three-wheeler was equipped with a tall, orange flag to improve Hesse’s visibility, he said.
Seuberth, who was nearby in his car on Studley Street, heard sirens shortly after the 3:53 p.m. crash and immediately feared something had happened to his friend.