Pedestrian struck on College Avenue Monday dies

A pedestrian hit by a car while crossing College Avenue early Monday has died, reported Santa Rosa police Wednesday.

Joseph Von Merta, 57, succumbed to his injuries Wednesday night, said officials at Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital

Von Merta's death is the ninth pedestrian death in Santa Rosa since January 2011. Six of the nine victims, including Von Merta, have been Santa Rosa-area homeless men, according to police.

Most of those men were intoxicated at the time they were hit and police determined the fault in the collisions was with them.

It is believed that Von Merta's death is still under investigation by Santa Rosa police — though that could not be confirmed Wednesday evening — and they have not said whether he had been drinking.

The accident that led to Von Merta's death took place at about 5:20 a.m., when it was still dark and very foggy. He was walking across College at Mendocino Avenue in the crosswalk.

A driver headed west on College hit him, knocking him into the windshield and over the top of the car. Von Merta landed on the roadway behind the stopped sedan, a Honda Accord.

He suffered internal injuries and a broken leg and was rushed to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital where he went into surgery.

The driver, Emanuel Morales-Rodriguez, 25, was en route to work when Von Merta was struck, said Santa Rosa Police Sgt. Lance Badger. Morales-Rodriguez was treated for minor injuries.

Thus far, investigators have interviewed Morales-Rodriguez and one witness to the collision.

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