Family sues Santa Rosa over deadly crosswalk crash

  • 8/20/2011: A1:
    PC: At Rockwell Place and West Ninth Street in Santa Rosa, Friday August 19, 2011 children gathered at a shrine dedicated to a boy who was struck and killed in a crosswalk by driver Marcos Lopez Garcia, 22, Thursday evening. The four year-old died of his injuries at Oakland Children's Hospital. (Kent Porter / Press Democrat) 2011

The family of a 4-year-old boy killed by a hit-and-run driver in a Santa Rosa crosswalk has filed a wrongful death suit against the city alleging it allowed dangerous conditions to exist that caused the crash.

Christopher "Buddy" Rowe was killed on West Ninth Street near Rockwell Place in 2011 when he crossed the street with his mother and two sisters on the way to Jacobs Park.

He was struck by Marcos Lopez-Garcia, 22, of Santa Rosa, who fled but was found the same day. The pizza restaurant worker admitted charges of vehicular manslaughter and leaving the scene of a crash and was sentenced to four years in prison.

Last fall, the Rowe family sued the city, claiming the crosswalk was unsafe. Legal papers say the crosswalk was in a dangerous location with inadequate warning and speed limit signs, which were partially obscured by passing traffic and untrimmed foliage.

The family is seeking damages for pain and suffering as well as lost wages and funeral expenses.

"The collision was directly and legally caused by the negligent acts and/or omissions of the city," Santa Rosa attorney Michael D. Green wrote in the 33-page suit.

City officials denied the crosswalk was dangerous or contributed to the death.

Instead, City Attorney Caroline Fowler said the driver was mostly responsible. She said the city was filing a cross-complaint against Lopez-Garcia, who will be deported when he is released in a few months.

Also, she said investigators were looking into whether the mother played a role by failing to supervise her son as he crossed the street.

She accused the family of making broad allegations and going after the city's "deep pockets."

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