Residents of a Santa Rosa apartment complex gathered Saturday morning in sadness at the makeshift memorial for a 4-year-old boy who died Friday evening after he was run over by a vehicle in the apartment parking lot. Stuffed animals and candles sat by the curb in the bright sunlight.
“So heartbreaking,” said Tiffany Shanda. “I saw them earlier (Friday) when it was daylight. Him and his sister, they were riding their bicycles. Their grandmother was with them.”
Giovanni Hernandez was run over on Rodeo Lane, which bisects the Sonoma Gardens Apartments complex just off Santa Rosa Avenue, CHP Officer Jon Sloat said.
He died at Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital soon after the 6:20 p.m. accident, Sloat said.
The boy was on a no-pedal toddler bike with his grandmother ahead of him as he rode into a crosswalk in the complex from behind a parked car, Sloat said.
He was run over by a Lexus SUV driven by a 29-year-old woman who lives in the complex, Sloat said. The woman was leaving the complex, traveling west toward Santa Rosa Avenue, and appeared to not have seen Giovanni, Sloat said. Witnesses said the driver had been traveling at a speed of 5 mph at the time of the accident, he said.
“It doesn’t appear there was time to react,” Sloat said. The accident scene had no skid marks that would have indicated the driver had time to brake, he added.
Giovanni had been following his grandmother, though Sloat could not say how far ahead she was or where she was when the boy was hit.
The driver was cooperative with officers at the scene, and drugs and alcohol do not appear to be a factor in the accident, Sloat said.
The investigation was ongoing Saturday, he added, as officers still had to conduct some measurements at the scene.
The first CHP officer arrived at the crash site approximately 11 minutes after the initial 911 calls, a delay that stemmed from an incorrect address provided to first responders, Sloat said.
Giovanni’s parents declined to speak about the accident Saturday.
A family friend standing at the memorial Saturday displayed a text message that she said was from Giovanni’s mother.
“It’s like I am dead,” the message said.
Shanda said she had been told by another friend of Giovanni’s parents that the couple had been in Bodega Bay, and their children — they have a daughter a few years older than Giovanni — were in the care of their grandmother.
“They must be beside themselves,” she said.
Other residents said that people drove too fast through the parking lot.
“I don’t let him play out here, only in the park” at the rear of the complex, said Bertha Noriega, who was there with her 6-year-old grandson.
Residents have wanted speed bumps for a while now, she and Shanda said.
“We’re hoping this will have a lesson for people to slow down,” Shanda said.
They said the family had lived in the newer complex, which has a view of Sonoma Mountain, for several years.
Staff Writer Bill Swindell contributed to this report. You can reach Staff Writer Jeremy Hay at 521-5212 or email@example.com. On Twitter @jeremyhay.