Windsor man apparently darted into traffic on way to fiancee's house

The surviving loved ones of Billy Leyone were all asking the same question Saturday: Why?

Why would a grown man known to be a careful pedestrian suddenly run into the path of an oncoming car?

A day after Leyone, 42, was killed as he crossed Old Redwood Highway in Windsor, they remained unsure of the answer, and unable to find the woman who was with him and might shed light on the accident.

"I can't imagine him just running out in the road for no reason and not paying attention to where he was going," Leyone's fiancee, Kathy Vitale, said.

"I think he probably accidentally went out into the traffic, maybe," Leyone's sister, Debra Leyone, said. "I really can't say honestly why this happened. I'm trying to locate her so I can talk to her."

Windsor police identified the witness as Roxy Hendrix, but said Friday night she was unable to explain why Leyone entered a roadway full of traffic.

A sometime painter and handyman, Leyone was walking from the home he shared with his mother on Esmond Circle to Vitale's Old Redwood Highway house less than one mile away when he was struck and killed about 7:45 p.m. Friday.

He had walked only about three blocks and was crossing the highway near Bluebird Drive when he was struck by a car driven by James Lindgren, 58, police said.

Lindgren told them Leyone suddenly darted in front of him and he had no time to stop, police said.

Leyone, whose family members quickly gathered at the scene, was rushed by ambulance to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital, where he died, authorities said.

He was remembered by loved ones as a kind-hearted man who served as a father to Vitale's three children, especially her 4-year-old son. Leyone cared for his mother, Ruthine Bawden, between doing carpentry and painting jobs.

A Sonoma County native who attended Cook Middle School and Santa Rosa High School, he had worked recently as a car painter in the automotive shop at the Santa Rosa Sears and had worked as a house painter, his sister said.

In addition to his mother and his sister Debra, Leyone is survived by sisters Yvonne Peterson and Leann Marshall, also of Windsor, as well as nieces and nephews.

His death, Debra Leyone said, "is nobody's fault. There's no blame to blame on anybody. It was just an accident, a horrible accident."

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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