Pedestrian, 88, killed by suspected hit-and-run drunk driver in south Santa Rosa
A 20-year-old suspected drunken driver struck and killed an 88-year-old man who was crossing the street in south Santa Rosa early Saturday morning, police said.
Eduardo Jaurez Espinosa, of Santa Rosa, was driving a white Chevy pickup truck southbound on Santa Rosa Avenue just after 6:20 a.m. when he struck Jose Sanchez Lozano, who was in the crosswalk at the intersection with Court Street, according to the Santa Rosa Police Department.
Lozano, also of Santa Rosa, died at the scene.
After the collision, Espinosa sped off, witnesses told police. He then lost control of the truck, crossing through the northbound lanes of Santa Rosa Avenue before jumping the curb, hitting a street sign and stopping amid bushes near the La Plaza Mexican restaurant, police said.
Witnesses saw Espinosa, who was wearing a blue sweatshirt, get out of the Chevy and run away, according to a news release from Santa Rosa police.
When officers arrived on scene, they found Lozano lying in the southbound lanes of Santa Rosa Avenue, about 250 feet south of the crosswalk and they immediately determined he had died.
Based on descriptions from witnesses, officers quickly found Espinosa near an apartment complex on Bellevue Avenue and took him into custody without incident.
Espinosa was arrested on suspicion of vehicular manslaughter with intoxication, felony hit-and-run and driving under the influence and driving under the influence causing great bodily injury or death.
The crash prompted police to close Santa Rosa Avenue between Court Street and Elsa Drive, and a little bit beyond both of those intersections as well, while the scene was examined by police investigators and field evidence technicians. Police reopened the roadway about 2:40 p.m.
Mid-morning Saturday, several hours after the crash, items that appeared to belong to Lozano, including a hat, shoe and business cards, were lying near the crosswalk as his covered body lay far off down the road.
Family members grieved in a nearby parking lot, where they described Lozano as a “very good man.” He was a retired vineyard worker, said his daughter-in-law, Esther Rivas.
Rivas and her husband, who lost their Larkfield home in the October wildfires, recently moved to a new home near the mobile home park where Lozano lived, not far from the collision site.
“We were just happy to be nearby,” she said.
Rivas believed her father-in-law was walking to the Smart & Final Supermarket grocery store on Santa Rosa Avenue when he was killed. The death weighed heavily on her, especially in light of the fires and the death of her mother-in-law in 2016.
“It’s just been too much in the last less than two years,” she said.
You can reach Staff Writer J.D. Morris at 707-521-5337 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @thejdmorris.