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Grieving Cloverdale family pushes for crosswalk changes

  • Erlinda Ponce, center, is comforted by family and friends during a vigil for her mother Maria Ponce who was struck and killed by a truck on Wednesday, July 24, 2013. 68-year-old Maria Ponce was hit at the intersection of South Cloverdale Boulevard and Healdsburg Avenue while trying to cross the street in a crosswalk. (Conner Jay/Press Democrat)

The large family and friends of a Cloverdale great-grandmother who was killed in a downtown crosswalk beseeched the City Council on Wednesday night to install more lights and safety features at the street crossing to avoid another tragedy.

Approximately 60 relatives and acquaintances of Maria Ponce, 68, packed the council chamber to make an emotional appeal before marching several blocks away for a candlelight vigil at the spot where she was hit by a pickup on July 7.

"I don't want this tragedy to happen to another family. We are really suffering now," Erlinda Ponce, the eldest daughter of the woman, told the council. "I want some justice done."

Maria Ponce Vigil In Cloverdale


"You took away the most beautiful, vibrant woman I've known," said Maria Ponce's youngest daughter, Delia Ponce, who blamed the city for not making safety improvements after previous accidents involving pedestrians in the same crosswalk. "Don't put a price tag on someone's head. Please address that, so no one else is taken from someone they love."

Mayor Joe Palla expressed his "sincere condolences to you and your family" and said there is "an ongoing investigation into the facts surrounding this unfortunate event."

It was the third pedestrian fatality in Cloverdale in less than three years, although the others took place at different locations and during the day.

One in December 2010 occurred on North Main Street, killing an 83-year-old man. The 17-year-old driver left the scene.

Another accident in January of this year resulted in the death of an 87-year-old woman who was knocked over by a slow moving car in a downtown parking lot.

The latest nighttime accident launched a stepped-up enforcement by Cloverdale Police on Wednesday at the crosswalk on South Cloverdale Boulevard where the fatality occurred. Using an undercover decoy, police cited nine motorists for failure to yield to the pedestrian and gave out two warnings.

Sgt. Stephen Cramer said it was to help get "the message out to the public that pedestrians have the right-of-way. Vehicles are supposed to yield to pedestrians in the crosswalks."

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