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Woman struck, killed in Santa Rosa gym parking lot

  • CHP investigators search the scene in front of the Airport Health Club in Santa Rosa where a woman was accidentally run over and killed Thursday, Oct. 24, 2013. (JOHN BURGESS/ PD)

A Santa Rosa woman on her way into the gym for a morning workout was struck and killed Thursday as she walked across the parking lot.

Suzan K. Smith, 72, died at the scene, just a few feet from the safety of the raised sidewalk outside the entrance to the Airport Health Club.

Smith had just parked her car and was walking toward the doors to the Aviation Boulevard gym when another club member, Windsor resident Richard Lando, 40, reportedly backed into her and knocked her over with his Toyota Tundra pickup, CHP Officer Jon Sloat said.

“His explanation is he was trying to park, someone else took his parking space, so he was backing up to get another spot,” Sloat said.

Family who gathered at Smith's Larkfield-area home Thursday evening described her as a “wonderful, healthy woman” who went to the gym often and enjoyed her workouts.

Family members said they were still too stunned to grant a more extensive interview.

At the time of the accident, Smith was walking on or near a speed bump that Lando knew was there, Officer Kimberly Lemons said.

Lando backed over Smith once she was on the ground but didn't realize it, thinking he had hit the speed bump, Lemons said. Then he pulled forward a little bit and, recognizing something was awry, backed up one more time and saw Smith on the asphalt, she said.

Lando ran inside to summon help. One of the club trainers was working with a client who happens to be a paramedic, so they both rushed out to render aid while Rincon Valley firefighters were en route, said Bob Page, general manager of the club.

But life-saving measures failed to revive Smith, who died in the parking lot, the CHP said.

Surveillance cameras mounted outside the club captured the incident on video, and Lemons said it appeared that Lando's white truck was traveling at low speed.

Several somber club personnel brought out curtained screens to provide some measure of privacy to the victim as she lay in the parking lot during the ensuing investigation.

Lando was inside in the club, heartsick, as he waited for investigators from the Sonoma County District Attorney's Office to question him.

“He's just distraught,” Page said. “Both members of the club, going to work out.”

Staff writer Sean Scully contributed to this report. You can reach Staff Writer Mary Callahan at 521-5249 or mary.callahan@pressdemocrat.com.

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