A Santa Rosa traffic sergeant says police are "pulling our hair out" trying to find the key to ending a spate of vehicle vs. pedestrian accidents on city streets.
"The fact that this is just an ongoing theme, it's disturbing, and it's everyone's fault" - sometimes the driver's, sometimes pedestrians', said Sgt. Rich Celli.
Traffic Sgt. Lance Badger said pedestrians too often forget their right-of-way in a crosswalk doesn't make them invulnerable.
Other times, motorists drive too fast for dark or rainy conditions, Celli said.
But "unfortunately," Badger said, "there's not a pedestrian-vehicle collision where the pedestrian wins."
Investigators have found the driver at fault in a case from earlier this month in which a man struck and injured a blind couple on West Third Street.
Police plan to seek a complaint through the District Attorney's Office charging Santa Rosa driver Gregg Jann with failure to yield to pedestrians in a crosswalk.
The offense is an infraction - the same violation for which a motorist might be ticketed without hitting someone - because no one was fatally injured, Celli said. It carries a fine of about $154, according to a statewide bail schedule.
The day after the incident, a woman and a 3-year-old child barely escaped injury while crossing Stony Point Road a mile away, Celli said.
Friday night, a 24-year-old Santa Rosa man was hit and killed in a Mendocino Avenue crosswalk. Friends said he might have been on a skateboard, though it wasn't clear Saturday.
Celli said each incident underscores the need to be vigilant when on the city's streets, a message police are trying to reinforce to target audiences like the elderly, the homeless and local youth through grant-funded campaign to teach pedestrian and bicycle safety.
It was dark and rainy when Jann failed to see the blind couple or the overhead flasher indicating pedestrians were in the crosswalk on West Third Street at Brockhurst Drive the evening of March 16, police said.
He struck the pair, Erik Smiley and Karen Ledger-Leydecker, as they crossed southbound on a trip to Carls Jr. on Stony Point Road around 8:40 p.m.
Ledger-Leydecker's guide dog, Dotty, was with them.
Smiley suffered three broken ribs and a punctured lung, and Friday endured his third surgery at Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital for repair of a badly broken leg. Ledger-Leydecker, who attends College of the Redwoods in Eureka, <NO1><NO>sprained an ankle.
Both remember clearly hearing the chime of the overhead flasher after Ledger-Leydecker pushed the button to activate it the night they were hit.
An independent witness corroborated that the flasher was on, Celli said.
The pair crossed the westbound lanes but suddenly found themselves thrown to the pavement moments later.
Celli said police have found no evidence that Jann, 48, was using a phone or had been drinking.
He noted that just a day after Smiley and Ledger-Leydecker were hit, a woman and a 3-year-old child barely escaped injury while crossing Stony Point Road a mile away.
The driver in that case, Ukiah resident Daniel Santos, 51, told police he was momentarily distracted as he approached Lazzini Avenue, then swerved and saw in his rearview mirror that the woman and girl were on the ground, Celli said.
Pedestrian Leonor Gonzalez told police she saw that the car was not going to stop and threw the child out of the way before she was knocked to the ground.