A judge has upheld his preliminary ruling that a Santa Rosa crosswalk where a 4-year-old boy was struck and killed by a motorist was not inherently dangerous.
Judge Elliot Lee Daum last week dismissed the lawsuit filed against Santa Rosa by the family of Christopher "Buddy" Rowe, finding that the city was not responsible for his death. "The condition of the accident location does not constitute public property that is dangerous," Daum wrote.
Rowe was killed in 2011 in a marked crossing on West Ninth Street near Rockwell Place as he walked with his mother and two sisters on the way to Jacobs Park.
The driver, Marcos Lopez-Garcia, 22, of Santa Rosa, fled but was arrested later that day. The pizza restaurant worker received a four-year state prison sentence for vehicular manslaughter and leaving the scene of a crash.
The family's attorney, Michael Green, made a variety of arguments suggesting the crosswalk was unsafe, including that foliage blocked a pedestrian sign, the city had yet to reduce travel lanes and add bicycle lanes on the street, and "inadequate sight distance" that made it hard for motorists to spot pedestrians at that location.
The judge found all the claims lacking, and called the last one, offered by a private traffic engineer, "misleading."
Green said he clients are considering their options following the ruling.
"Our primary objective in bringing this lawsuit, however, was to make West 9th Street safer for pedestrians and this has been achieved," he said.
These include reducing four travel lanes to two and the installation of a traffic signal at a nearby crosswalk in front of Lincoln Elementary School, Green noted.