Local News

Tuesday, Jan 01 2013 09:30 PM

More than two dozen pedestrian deaths in 2012

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    By Michael Fagans / The Californian

    Roxanne Weaver, left, listens as Gil Edmondson, her son Brandon Weaver's uncle, talks about the family's loss as his aunt Debra Edmondson and uncle Mike Freeman listen at Zingo's Cafe last week. Brandon Weaver has killed by a hit-and-run driver while he was walking along 24th Street in March 2012.

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    By Michael Fagans / The Californian

    Brandon Weaver's family maintains a memorial for him at the scene of his death by a hit-and-run driver along 24th Street in March 2012.

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BY JASON KOTOWSKI Californian staff writer jkotowski@bakersfield.com

Kellan Weaver sometimes takes his telescope and scans the night sky for something that isn't there. At other times the 5-year-old talks into a cell phone that has no one on the line.

And there are even moments he wishes a car would run him down. Kellan thinks that's the only way he can be reunited with his father, Brandon Weaver, who was struck and killed by a hit-and-run driver in March 2012.

Brandon Weaver's mother, Roxanne Weaver, said her two grandchildren -- Kellan and 10-year-old Kaden -- are doing their best to cope with their father's death. The family as a whole is still suffering, she said.

"It doesn't get easier," Roxanne Weaver said.

Her son was one of 25 pedestrians The Californian determined were killed in Kern County in 2012. There were six pedestrian deaths in November alone, and two this past weekend.

It's a problem that's not going away, and it's one that law enforcement has said can often be avoided with good judgment on the part of both pedestrians and motorists.

There are several cases this past year in which pedestrians stepped directly into the path of an oncoming vehicle and the driver was unable to stop or swerve out of the way in time. And there have been other cases in which motorists were speeding, inattentive or under the influence.

There were also several drivers who just sped away and didn't stop to check on the person they'd just hit. That was the case with Gustavo Alvarez-Solis, the man who struck and killed Weaver and then left him fatally injured while he drove on and spent the next week trying to get the damage to his vehicle repaired.

Alvarez-Solis is scheduled to be sentenced Jan. 10 for hit-and-run causing death or permanent serious injury. According to the California Vehicle Code, Alvarez-Solis can at most be sentenced to four years in prison.

The Weaver family believes the punishment should be stiffer. They spoke Friday at Zingo's Cafe about the loss they've felt this past year.

Gil Edmondson, an uncle of Brandon Weaver, said he plans to contact legislators to try to push for tougher laws to punish motorists who leave the scene of an accident. There should be a standard 10-year prison sentence for anyone who leaves the scene after striking and fatally injuring a pedestrian, he said.

"He caused a lot of pain," Edmondson said of Alvarez-Solis.

Andrea Osuna, Kellan's mother, said she understands that accidents happen, and she'd even have had a measure of forgiveness for Alvarez-Solis if he'd turned himself in afterward. She said Alvarez-Solis showed a complete lack of responsibility by making the police track him down instead of coming forward.

Roxanne Weaver said her son, who she described as a naturally funny man who loved his two boys, didn't deserve to die this way. There's nothing that compares to losing your child, she said, and it hurts to know someone knew he was badly injured but left him there anyway.

"Even before it happened to my son I couldn't believe someone could do that to another human being," she said.

The following pedestrians died in 2012, according to coroner's office records that specifically began tracking such deaths as of June 25 and The Californian's archives:

Jan. 6 - David DeSantiago, 11, ran into traffic on Brundage Lane near H Street at 6:11 p.m. David was hit by a pickup driven by Louie Hoyt in the number two westbound lane.

David's mother, Lorie Stewart, said she and David had just parked at the Society for Disabled Children and she was getting two of her other kids out of her vehicle. She thought David, as usual, had run inside the building.

No charges were filed. The Bakersfield Police Department investigated.

Jan. 24 - Bailey MacLean, 12, was struck by a train 5:03 p.m. while walking on the train tracks at Gardiner Street and 20 Mule Team Road in Boron, according to the coroner's office.

March 5 - Flex Tekaat, 69, was hit by a car at 2:59 p.m. while riding his motorized scooter in the 2100 block of South H Street. The motorist, Erica Jackson, stopped at the scene.

There is no sidewalk in the area where the crash occurred, and Bakersfield police said Tekaat's chair was near the curb when he was hit.

Jackson has been charged with non-gross negligence, non-alcohol manslaughter and a jury trial is scheduled for Jan. 14.

March 5 - Brandon Weaver, 30, was walking east on a dirt patch to the south of 24th Street between Oak and Elm streets at 6:24 p.m. when he was struck by a pickup, Bakersfield police said, The driver, Gustavo Alvarez-Solis, left the scene, tried to get the pickup fixed and was arrested March 12 when a former employee of the repair shop called police to say a suspicious vehicle was at the business, according to Bakersfield police.

Alvarez-Solis pleaded no contest to hit-and-run causing death or serious injury, and sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 10.

March 7 - Juan Manuel Vizcarra, 2, was hit and run over at 9:55 a.m. in the parking lot of the Delano Medical Arts building. Juan ran between two parked cars and into the parking lot, where he was struck by Romiro Gonzalez Rincon, who was driving a GMC Yukon east in the parking lot, Delano police said.

A bystander grabbed the boy and ran into Delano Regional Medical Center's emergency room. Juan was pronounced dead at 10:58 a.m. Rincon was not charged.

March 16 - Felicia Rene Askew, 50, was struck at 1:41 a.m. in the 200 block of V Street by a hit-and-run driver who has not yet been identified. Bakersfield police are investigating.

March 17 - Gilbert Flores, 59, was struck by a train at 8:30 p.m. while crossing railroad tracks at the 1000 block of High Street in Delano.

Flores died April 16. Kern County firefighters said the area he was walking in was not a designated pedestrian crossing area.

April 30 - Baljit Kaur, 51, was hit at 1:50 p.m. while walking in the eastbound lanes of traffic on White Lane.

Desiree Comstock was driving a green Ford Explorer east in the 2000 block of White Lane near railroad tracks when she hit Kaur, Bakersfield police said. Comstock was not charged.

May 7 - Jose Angel Sanchez, 75, was hit at 11:16 a.m. by a vehicle driven by Rosemarie Aguinaga on Virginia Avenue approaching Wilma Street.

Sanchez stepped directly in front of Aguinaga's vehicle, according to California Highway Patrol officers, but Aguinaga left the scene and drove east on Virginia and north on Hazel Street. She parked her vehicle and walked back to where the crash occurred.

Aguinaga was arrested as she was leaving the scene a second time, and was charged with hit-and-run causing death or permanent injury. She was sentenced to time served and three years' probation.

June 24 - Israel Chavez Medina, 13, was struck at 9:40 p.m. by an alleged drunken driver who fled the scene of the crash on Virginia Avenue at Larry Street.

Medina died early June 25. The driver, Dennis Ray Ozaeta, was charged with hit-and-run causing death or permanent injury and DUI, and a readiness hearing is scheduled for Jan. 25.

California Highway Patrol officers say children ages 3 and 4 were in the car with Ozaeta when the crash happened. Ozaeta was arrested at his residence.

July 17 - Isabella Alvarado, 1, was struck at 3:45 p.m. in a parking lot in her apartment complex in the 1400 block of Monterey Street.

The girl's family was moving and a family member struck the child, according to the coroner's office.

Aug. 4 - Elvia Garcia, 56, was struck at 11:41 p.m. on Edison Highway, 480 feet west of Exchange Street.

Garcia died of her injuries Aug. 5, according to the coroner's office. The California Highway Patrol handled the investigation.

Sept. 2 - Robert Orozco, 51, was hit at 8:48 p.m. in the 200 block of Chester Avenue.

Estefanie Lopez, 20, was driving a car south on Chester when she hit Orozco, Bakersfield police said. Lopez was not charged.

Sept. 16 - Michael McClure, 56, was hit at 7:41 p.m. in the 1300 block of Union Avenue by a vehicle that left the scene.

Bakersfield police said witnesses reported McClure had been acting erratically while standing on the center median of the roadway and then stepped into the northbound lanes of traffic, where he was hit. He died Sept. 18 at Kern Medical Center.

The driver of the vehicle has not been found.

Sept. 18 - Manuel Diaz, 78, was struck at 6:18 a.m. in the 200 block of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard by a vehicle that left the scene.

The vehicle was later found and it was determined that Virginio Escamilla, 45, had been driving at the time of the crash, Bakersfield police said. Escamilla has not been found.

Oct. 19 - Darren Bruce Look, 48, was hit at 7:02 p.m. while walking north across Brundage Lane at H Street.

Sukdevh Singh Gill was driving a pickup that struck Look, who died about a half hour later at Kern Medical Center, Bakersfield police said. No charges were filed.

Nov. 1 - Genevieve Rodriguez, 42, was struck by 94-year-old Judith Barr on Akers Road and pronounced dead at 9:33 a.m. the same day.

Barr was driving north on Akers Road when she hit Rodriguez, who was walking east. Bakersfield police investigated, and no charges were filed.

Nov. 7 - Miguel Buenos, 68, was struck at 7 p.m. while crossing the street in the 5400 block of Stine Road.

Jose Jimenez was the driver of the car that hit Buenos, Bakersfield police said. Jimenez stopped at the scene and was not arrested.

Buenos was crossing in an area that was not a crosswalk, according to police.

Nov. 14 - Shaylyn Pinoliar, 12, was hit at 7:32 a.m. while crossing Browning Road in Delano as she walked to school.

Blanca Felix Leon, 26, was driving eastbound on Summer Drive, Delano police said. She stopped at the stop sign at the corner of Summer and Browning, and started to turn right onto Browning but heard that she'd hit something.

Leon got out of her car and saw she'd struck Pinoliar. She'd been driving her pickup only a few miles an hour at the time of the collision.

Leon was charged Dec. 21 with non-alcohol, non-gross vehicular manslaughter, according to court records.

Nov. 22 - Buffey G. Mitchell, 33, was struck at 6:45 p.m. on East Brundage Lane just west of Mt. Vernon Avenue.

Mitchell was first hit by a van driven by Mary Cruz, who stopped to give aid, according to Bakersfield police. She was then hit by a second vehicle that left the scene.

There is no crosswalk in the area, and police said it's unknown if she was crossing the street or just walking in the roadway.

Nov. 27 - Angel Staten, 22, was hit at 10:10 p.m. on Roberts Lane 113 feet west of Higgins Drive.

Staten walked directly into the path of a vehicle driven by Chad Snook, 22, who tried to stop but was unable to avoid hitting him, California Highway Patrol officers said. Snook was not charged.

Nov. 30 - Bobbie Rigby, 40, was struck by a car on Roberts Lane in Oildale at 7:47 p.m.

Irma Blaauw was driving westbound on Roberts Lane from Central Avenue when Rigby entered Roberts Lane and walked into the westbound lanes of traffic, California Highway Patrol officers said. Blaauw was not arrested.

Dec. 17 - A 57-year-old man was struck at 5:30 p.m. by a vehicle traveling east on Tehachapi Boulevard about a mile east of Tehachapi Willow Springs Road.

Next of kin have not yet been located, according to the coroner's office, so the name of the man has not been released. The accident is under investigation by the California Highway Patrol.

Dec. 29 - Mychael Thomas, 19, was hit at 5:15 p.m. at Las Flores Street at North Fairview Road in Ridgecrest. The Ridgecrest Police Department is investigating.

Dec. 30 - A woman ran into the path of a car at 3:50 a.m. on Comanche Drive south of East Panama Lane in Arvin and died at the scene, according to the California Highway Patrol.

The woman's name was not released pending notification of next of kin.

Marivel Guerrero, 34, of Bakersfield, was driving a 2007 Hyundai at a stated speed of 60 mph when the woman ran west across Comanche Drive directly into the Hyundai's path, officers said. The area has no designated crosswalks or sidewalks.

Guerrero tried to avoid the woman by turning to the left, but wasn't able to avoid hitting her, the CHP reported. Alcohol is not believed to be a factor.

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