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Petaluma driver arrested on DUI after two pedestrians struck in downtown crosswalk

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A man and woman who had apparently left a Petaluma movie theater were hospitalized with serious injuries after a suspected DUI driver crashed into them in a downtown crosswalk Saturday night, police said.

The driver, Petaluma resident Karen Burns, who was arrested on suspicion of DUI linked to prescription drugs, saw the pedestrians and braked but was unable to stop before crashing into the pair, who were crossing from the east side of Petaluma Boulevard at about 6:26 p.m., according to Petaluma police.

The 23-year-old woman and 21-year-old man, both from Petaluma, were in the crosswalk next to Center Park, near the Mystic Theater, when they were struck, police said in a press release.

They were thrown onto the hood of Burns’ car, a 2004 gold Chevrolet Cavalier, and then thrown into the roadway, police reported.

The female pedestrian suffered head injuries and was taken to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital. The male pedestrian was taken to Petaluma Valley Hospital with injuries to his head, arms and legs, police reported. Their names were not disclosed.

Their condition was unknown late Saturday night and police could not be reached for comment Sunday.

Police indicated in the press release that the victims had just left the downtown movie theater.

Burns was driving south on Petaluma Boulevard South and was estimated to have been traveling at 30 mph — above the 25 mph speed limit — as she approached the downtown crosswalk, police said.

After the crash, officers at the scene noticed Burns showed signs of impairment, police said. She performed poorly in several field sobriety tests, according to police, and was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of prescription medication.

She was initially booked at the Sonoma County Jail and released early Sunday after posting $100,000 bail, a jail official said. She is scheduled to appear in court Thursday.

Police said that they do not believe the pedestrians had been consuming alcohol prior to the accident.

A Petaluma woman who said she came by the scene about 15 minutes after the crash said Burns’ car was stopped about 30 feet past the crosswalk.

The woman, who asked not to be identified, said there was obvious damage to the windshield from what she assumed to be the impact of the pedestrians.

She dismissed the idea that the two victims had carelessly stepped into the street, saying they had nearly finished crossing Petaluma Boulevard from the east side of the street when they were struck in the southbound lane.

The crosswalk’s warning system, which can be activated by pedestrians, includes flashing lights embedded in the roadway and an audio warning to use caution when crossing because motorists may not stop, the woman said.

Motorists often drive too fast through that block in the heart of downtown Petaluma between Western Avenue and B Street, according to the woman and a clerk at a store on the block.

It was unknown if the lights had been activated at the time of the crash.

California vehicle code requires drivers to “yield the right-of-way” to a pedestrian in a marked crosswalk and take “all due care,” including slowing down, “to safeguard the safety of the pedestrian.”

The law also says that a pedestrian must use “due care for his or her safety.”

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