Santa Rosa police say pedestrians hit by cars were intoxicated and at fault

Two Santa Rosa pedestrians hit by vehicles in recent crashes, one killed and one still hospitalized, were highly intoxicated and at fault, reported Santa Rosa police Wednesday.

In one, on Guerneville Road, both the pedestrian and driver were drunk, said Santa Rosa traffic Sgt. Rich Celli.

The combination of intoxicated pedestrians being hit by cars continues a long string of fatal and serious collisions in Santa Rosa over the last two years.

A witness to the pre-dawn Oct. 15 crash at College and Mendocino avenues saw a man stagger into the crosswalk against the light, said Celli.

The westbound driver apparently had the green light and told officers he didn't see the man until the last moment.

Longtime transient Joseph Von Merta's blood-alcohol level was 0.289 percent, more than three times the legal limit for driving.

Von Merta, who died hours after the crash, was at fault, police determined.

On Nov. 4, in the middle of the night, Robert Brian McKee, 49, apparently was walking across Guerneville Road at Coffey Lane. The driver who hit him didn't stop.

About 15 minutes after the 12:20 a.m. crash officers arrested driver Christian Pena Ballesteros, 30, of Santa Rosa. He was stopped a few blocks away.

Pedestrian McKee had a preliminary blood-alcohol level of 0.2. The driver's blood-alcohol level was 0.13, according to police reports.

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