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Police: 91-year-old man suspected in Fort Bragg hit-and-run crash

Fort Bragg police have identified a 91-year-old man as the suspected driver in a hit-and-run crash last week that left a pedestrian with severe injuries.

The man told police he was unaware he was involved in a crash. But he said he was present at the time of the collision, which happened at about 11:15 a.m. on Oct. 12 at the intersection of Main and Oak streets, the Fort Bragg Police Department said in a news release.

Police Capt. Thomas O’Neal declined to release the man’s name. He said the man was not arrested because police did not have evidence to prove he was knowingly involved in the crash.

The man he struck, Brandon Bazor, has developmental disabilities and was walking home from his job at Mendo Mill & Lumber on South Main Street when he was hit, his family told The Press Democrat. The 40-year-old doesn’t drive and has commuted on foot to his job for more than 20 years.

His mother, Jackie Bazor, said the incident was caught on video camera at the nearby fire station. It shows that the driver did not even try to brake, though her son was in front of the driver’s side of the car.

“That’s why they’re saying they’re sure he didn’t know,” she said.

Jackie Bazor viewed the video recording with police and said it was highly disturbing to see her son get hit, fall to the ground and then pull himself up and wander in a circle, bloodied, as numerous other vehicles continued through the crosswalk.

“There must have been at least 10 cars go through that intersection when he’s still in the crosswalk,” Jackie Bazor said. “I’m surprised he didn’t get hit twice. I told the police department, ‘It’s disgusting.’ It’s like you lose all faith in humans.”

The police department has sent its investigation along to the Mendocino County District Attorney’s Office, which will consider charges against the driver, O’Neal said.

“We’re going to allow the District Attorney’s Office to make a decision on prosecution,” O’Neal said.

In deciding not to arrest the man, O’Neal said, “We took into consideration the suspect’s age of 91 years old and the current on-again-off-again COVID conditions at the jail.”

The man’s driver’s license has been revoked pending an emergency reevaluation by the Department of Motor Vehicles. The Chevrolet Bolt he is suspected of driving in the crash has been seized as evidence, police said.

Brandon Bazor was taken to a hospital following the crash but has been recovering at home from “extensive dental injuries,” according to O’Neal. He also fractured a bone in his face, family members said.

Jackie Bazor said she’s relieved that an insured driver has been identified so that her son can have the extraction and tooth replacement necessary to repair the damage to his mouth, in addition to whatever other care is needed in the wake of his traumatic experience.

But she said he remains unable to eat anything but soup and oatmeal and is upset about the impact of his injuries on Halloween festivities and other upcoming holidays.

Police identified the suspect after a weeklong investigation that involved piecing together surveillance camera footage from more than a dozen homes and businesses covering a 3-mile area around the crash site.

Officers determined the make and model of the vehicle suspected of hitting Bazor and stopped a damaged Chevrolet Bolt on Monday. The driver told police that his father, the 91-year-old suspect, was behind the wheel on the day of the crash.

A fundraiser to help pay for Bazor’s medical bills has been set up through the Savings Bank of Mendocino County, according to the police department. People who want to donate can send money to the bank, referencing account No. 0425355, police said.

You can reach Staff Writer Matt Pera at matthew.pera@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @Matt__Pera.

Mary Callahan

Environment and Climate Change, The Press Democrat

I am in awe of the breathtaking nature here in Sonoma County and am so grateful to live in this spectacular region we call home. I am amazed, too, by the expertise in our community and by the commitment to protecting the land, its waterways, its wildlife and its residents. My goal is to improve understanding of the issues, to find hope and to help all of us navigate the future of our environment. 

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