There was a particularly horrifying crash in September where a 7-month old baby was killed instantly while being pushed in a stroller ON THE SIDEWALK passing in front of a private driveway. The infant’s mother and brother escaped serious harm by leaping out of the way. Phoenix police announced almost immediately (My, that was a fast investigation! the crash occurred 9/14/2009, the media reported that outcome 9/16/2009) that there would be no criminal charges recommended. “Police said, Macias (the driver) did not see Clayda Lozoya, 27, walking down the sidewalk with her 4-year-old and 7-month-old children in a stroller. The SUV ran over the stroller and killed the baby instantly” [kpho]. “The investigation reveals Ms. Macias may have looked left before entering Northern Avenue to go east and not see the family approaching from the east,” Holmes’ news release indicated. ” [abc15]
In any event, the Arizona Republic reports (I guess the final police report?) in a Valley and State brief (not online? see below), that the driver was cited for two traffic infractions: failure to yield, and too-dark window tints. In the report, police (strangely) fault the mother of the victim for walking in front of the vehicle without making “eye contact” with the driver — now, remember police have also said the driver’s windows were illegally dark. hmmm. And remember, the victim was on a sidewalk, passing in front of a private driveway. It sounds to me like the Phoenix Police have invented a new duty — now it is the victim’s duty to ensure eye contact has been made, before making any sort of movement, regardless of right-of-way (the pedestrian has complete right-of-way at a driveway)? This is nonsense. This report is sounding like a tort lawyer. And, with all due respect to tort lawyers, is this really the sort of thing that should be in a police report? In my opinion, police reports should stick to application of THE LAW. Such “creative” interpretations in police reports frequently cause problems for cyclists.
On the other hand, the Police’s press release (reproduced below) was quite strong, admonishing drivers to look both ways — but of course, talk is cheap.
In case there is any confusion about what a driver is supposed to do at a driveway: §28-856 “The driver shall… Yield the right-of-way to any pedestrian as necessary to avoid collision”. (nothing about “eye contact” here).
For the curious, the window tinting statute is §28-959.01. I get the impression that this is one of those laws that generally only ever gets invoked after-the-fact.
The driver is, understandably, devastated over the incident. But from a punishment perspective, if the driver pleads or if found responsible for these infractions, she is facing a few hundred dollars in fines, and a couple of points on her license.
As noted above, police almost immediately dismissed any notion of criminal charges (e.g. Negligent Homicide). There is another far less serious law which makes it a crime (albeit a very minor crime) to kill a pedestrian, but it only applies when in a crosswalk. This seems to be yet another shortcoming of 28-672 see Crime and Punishment.
This sad sad sad story, and some of the Phoenix Police’s response reminds me of a quote from Mr. Burn of The Simpsons: “Beep Beep out of my way I’m a motorist” Wiggum “that some nice reckless driving Mr. B”
By the way, the outcome on public access shows up as something I don’t understand — normally the outcome would be either guilty/responsibile, or not responsible, or dismissed, or somesuch… what this about bail forfeited?
Case Number: M-0741-4090176
YIELD TO PED REQ FROM ALLEY/DRIVEWAY 11/24/2009 BAIL/DEPOSIT GIVEN/FORFEITED
IMPROPER TINTING OF WINDOWS 11/24/2009 BAIL/DEPOSIT GIVEN/FORFEITED
By the way, this crash shows the dramatic shortcoming of 28-672 “causing death or serious injury by moving violation”. The driver was plainly at fault, and plainly committed a moving violation, but because that particular violation isn’t on the list of infractions that triggers 28-672, nothing more serious than the ticket for failing to yield could be brought.
Driver in fatal crash was cited
The Arizona Republic, Dec 11, 2009, p. B2
PHOENIX — A woman whose SUV rolled over and crushed a 7-month-old boy outside a school in September was cited for two misdemeanor [ed’s note: this is incorrect — these infractions are strictly civil] traffic citations, records show.
Leticia Macias, 41, received the citations for failure to yield and for having improperly tinted windows on her 2007 GMC Yukon the day she struck and killed the baby at a busy parking lot at Westwind Middle School Academy near 20th and Northern Avenues.
The baby’s mother “never made eye contact with the driver prior to walking in front of the the vehicle” of the baby as she prepared to pull onto Northern Avenue on Sept. 16 after dropping her own child at school, according to a police report release this week. (ed’s note: there’s something wrong with the wording, e.g. “of the baby” makes no sense, and “as she prepared” obviously must mean the driver, who isn’t “the baby’s mother”).
A Phoenix police spokesman said Macias was never criminally charged. The baby’s mother, Clayda Lozoya, 26, was pushing the stroller and walking with her 3-year-old son at the time of the accident. The baby, Roman Mata, was pronounced dead at the scene as parents and children arrived at the campus around 8 a.m.
Phoenix Police Press Release at time of crash:
Infant in stroller killed by SUV leaving school parking lot
Information Provided by the Police Department
officers at scene in front of a school Tragedy struck at a private school near 19th Avenue and Northern this morning when a 7-month-old infant was struck and killed by an SUV. The infant, a boy, was being pushed in a stroller by his mother who was also walking with her 4-year-old son.
An SUV being driven by a 41-year-old woman who had just dropped off her child was pulling out of the Westwind Preparatory Academy parking lot and struck the stroller. The infant’s mother and brother were able to get out of the way, but were taken to a nearby hospital to be checked. The driver of the SUV remained at the scene; police were investigating and it was not known if she would face charges. “This is one of the calls you never get used to,” said Phoenix Fire Captain Hugh Chase. “We all have kids.”
PIO James Holmes at scenePhoenix police Public Information Officer James Holmes stated from the scene, “It is imperative that motor vehicle operators remember they are required to yield to not only vehicular traffic when exiting a private drive, but pedestrian traffic as well. Way too often a driver who intends to make a right turn will look left to ensure the way is clear, but not right. This endangers all pedestrian traffic which may be approaching from the right. We have to be careful.”