Local News

Saturday, Dec 17 2011 12:35 AM

Speeding sheriff's vehicle hits and kills two pedestrians in Oildale

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    By Michael Fagans / The Californian

    A police officer walks toward the scene of a fatal motor vehicle accident involving a Kern County Sheriffs deputy's patrol car and two pedestrians on Norris Road in Oildale on Friday night.

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    By Michael Fagans / The Californian

    CHP Sgt. Kenny Hagerman answers questions during a press conference at the scene of a fatal motor vehicle accident involving a Kern County Sheriffs deputy's patrol car and two pedestrians on Norris Road in Oildale on Friday night.

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    By Michael Fagans / The Californian

    The Kern County Sheriffs deputy's patrol car on Norris Road in Oildale on Friday night.

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    By Michael Fagans / The Californian

    Police tape was up and law enforcement officers were at the scene of a fatal crash in Oildale Friday night.

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By By: JILL COWAN AND JOHN ARTHUR Californian staff writers jcowan@bakersfield.com jarthur@bakersfield.com

Two pedestrians -- a man and a woman -- were hit and killed by a Kern County Sheriff's vehicle Friday night in Oildale, officials said.

The accident took place at about 7:30 p.m. near the intersection of Norris Road and Diane Drive near Cope's Food Fair Market and Coronado Baptist Church.

The deputy had been driving west on Norris, responding to a call, the California Highway Patrol reported. Witnesses said the victims appeared to have been killed on impact.

The CHP will be the investigating agency. There was no immediate comment from the Kern Sheriff's Department and the names of the victims were not released.

CHP Sgt. Kenny Hagerman spoke to the media shortly after 11 p.m. He said the Kern deputy had "openly struck" the two pedestrians.

He said he could not confirm bystanders' reports that the vehicle's emergency lights were not on. No details were offered on what kind of call the deputy had been responding to.

The deputy was taken to a hospital, Hagerman said. The extent of his injuries was not immediately known.

Hagerman confirmed that the two pedestrians had sustained fatal injuries. He said they had not been at a crosswalk.

Brandon Gudmundson, 16, said he and a friend were the first people on the scene.

He said he and other friends had been in a car turning left onto Norris from Oildale Drive -- less than a block away from the accident -- when a sheriff's vehicle passed them at a high rate of speed.

Reaching the accident scene seconds later, they parked at the market.

Gudmundson and one friend ventured into the street and came upon an appallingly grisly scene. He said it was clear that the victims had suffered severe trauma. They appeared lifeless.

He said the deputy was still in his vehicle.

"I'm still shocked," he said. "We were just (out) trying to find something to do. We were just making a left."

A woman told KBFX reporter Jose Gaspar that she had "heard a loud bang, like two cars crashed."

Looking in the direction of the sound, she saw a sheriff's vehicle and what appeared to be two victims in the street.

She called 911.

A woman named Whittney Peaker, 22, said she had been en route to pick up her boyfriend, who she said was the male victim.

The victim had called Peaker moments before, saying his motorcycle was out of gas. He had been walking it across Norris when he was hit.

Peaker, distraught, described herself as the mother of the victim's two small sons. They had been planning to go to a movie Friday night.

"I drove down here to pick him up," she said, crying.

She said she believed the female crash victim was a mutual friend.

Peaker's mother, Stephanie Lindley, also was at the scene. She said she did not witness the accident but said they had been told the sheriff's car did not have its emergency lights on.

Hours later, a long section of Norris remained cordoned off near Diane.

A large number of sheriff's deputies had come to the scene. A crowd of 30 to 40 people had gathered near the crash site, prevented from approaching the accident. Observers said the atmosphere was somewhat tense.

The sheriff's vehicle displayed some front-end damage. A small debris field stretched from the vehicle to the apparent impact location about 50 yards back.

Witnesses said that the remnants of what appeared to be the motorcycle were farther down the road, ahead of the deputy's car.

Peaker said she had been unable to obtain any information from deputies.

The CHP's Hagerman said he expected the road to be closed until at least 2 or 3 a.m.

Californian assistant photo editor Michael Fagans contributed this report.

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