Tag Archives: ped fatality

Driver cited in death of baby in stroller

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.”

2 elderly peds killed in Scottsdale

Investigation pending… but unimpaired (we assume the driver wasn’t impaired) drivers are rarely charged, regardless of circumstances.

Alfred Tillman, 82, and his wife Bernice, 80, were struck and killed by a pickup truck as they attempted to cross 90th Street near the bagel shop at 15768 N. Frank Lloyd Wright Blvd… Investigators had not decided by late Friday whether the driver, Blake Allan, 39, of Peoria, would be cited in the deaths, Clark said…. Police say the Toyota pickup was southbound on 90th Street near Frank Lloyd Wright Boulevard shortly after 7 a.m. when it struck the pair…The accident occurred in a 35-mph zone, and Clark said early indications were that speed was a factor in view of the length of the skid marks and the amount of damage to the truck.

Deaths of elderly couple stun those who saw them regularly, The Arizona Republic, 4/10/2009

Mionske: Can’t we do better?

In Bob Mionske’s Nov 20th column, Can’t we do better?, he asks “What do you think can be done about cyclist safety?”…

2007 Fatals by type

This may sound trite but, to improve cyclist’s safety I think the best thing to do is focus on improving traffic safety.  I know it’s easy to read yet another apparent case of a negligent motorist hurting/killing a cyclist, getting off scot free and then feeling that “the system” is stacked against cyclists. But this loses sight of the fact that the problem isn’t limited to cyclists as victims, all categories of motorist’s victims, including other motorists, are treated just as shabbily. Cyclists’ fatalities represent less than 2% of the 41,059 traffic deaths (NHTSA 2007 Traffic Safety Annual Assessment – Highlights)

There are other, far larger, constituencies who are also subject to these same injustices; pedestrians, motorcycle operators, and the largest of all; passengers and innocent drivers. These groups — which includes just about everybody — are all victims of negligent drivers.

So the key, in my view, to tightening up laws which would actually punish negligent drivers is to broaden to appeal beyond the tiny community of active bicyclists to involve as many of these other groups as possible.

So without this becoming a laundry list — consider for example victim Lance Adams who was killed in Mesa, AZ April 2005 WHILE WALKING ON THE SIDEWALK… no criminal charges(prosecutor says “no likelihood of conviction”), no citations. Matthew Hayes Peterson said he blacked out, causing his vehicle to jump the curb. The young man who killed Lance had a previous speeding violation, and somewhat incredulously was ticketed for speeding again on Dec 14 (90mph! in a 65. As of story Feb 1, the outcome of that ticket was still pending).Prosecutors won’t seek criminal charges against a 21-year-old driver who ran over a Mountain View High School student last year, saying there isn’t enough evidence to prove he was impaired.


DRIVER WON’T BE CHARGED IN STUDENT DEATH

Jim Walsh. Arizona Republic.  Jan 31, 2006.

Lance Adams, 15, was walking home from school on a sidewalk April 11 when he was struck and killed by an SUV driven by Matthew Hayes Peterson.

Mesa police sought manslaughter charges in late December after obtaining long-delayed test results from the Arizona Department of Public Safety’s crime lab on drugs found in Peterson’s system.

But Krystal Garza, a spokeswoman for Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas, said in a statement that the case was sent back recently to Mesa police.

“Based on the information submitted to date, we don’t believe there is a reasonable likelihood of conviction,” Garza wrote. “One factor in this decision was there were no signs of impairment that could be tied to any substance, legal or illegal, in the suspect’s system.”

Peterson told police after the collision that he blacked out before his 2000 Toyota RAV4 jumped a curb in the 1400 block of North Lindsay Road and struck Adams.

The lab tests measured the amount of marijuana metabolite found in Peterson’s system, along with two prescription drugs identified by police as propoxyphene, a narcotic pain reliever and zolpidem, a sleeping medication.

[oddly, they listed the chemical names. The two prescription drugs found in Peterson’s system are commonly known by their brand names; Darvon, and Ambien. One wonders if Peterson had a prescription? What about the warnings, did Peterson heed them?]

Heed the warnings?

Ambien/zolpidem Warnings : “Patients should be cautioned against engaging in hazardous occupations requiring complete mental alertness or motor coordination such as operating machinery or driving a motor vehicle after ingesting the drug, including potential impairment of the performance of such activities that may occur the day following ingestion of Ambien”

Darvon/Propoxyphene Warnings: … may impair the mental and/or physical abilities required for the performance of potentially hazardous tasks, such as driving a car…”

Double Jeopardy and Flawed Logic

ARS §28-1592 specifies the time limit for bringing a civil traffic violation. Sort of like the “statute of limitations” for traffic tickets. The normal limit is 60/90 days, but for alleged violations when there is a wreck and investigation the limit is 180 days, and extends to a full year if a fatality is involved.

The rub is that police (cities? jurisdictions?) won’t issue complaints for a traffic violation if there is any sort of ongoing investigation, an incipient neg hom/manslaughter charge for example… and these things do seem like they can drag on forever. They appear to do this in an overabundance of caution — claiming “double jeopardy” issues. As far as I can tell there can be no double jeopardy between civil and criminal.

The end result is that drivers who would clearly be found responsible for a traffic infraction frequently end up getting off scot free; when the criminal case falls through for whatever reason. See e.g. Kandas. Or sometimes it is just an oversight on the part of police. It seems clear that the driver responsible for the Eades fatality could have / should have been cited for §28-701 “failure to control”.

Talk about getting away with murder…

Yet police didn’t confiscate her driver’s license. Had this been a DUI case, Sgt. Joel Tranter told me, they would have taken it and notified the state Motor Vehicle Division so it could administratively suspend Gilbert’s license. But police don’t pursue DUI charges in manslaughter cases, for fear of jeopardizing the more serious charges.

“The (administrative suspension) law does not apply to homicide or aggravated assault cases because those are criminal,” Tranter explained. “They aren’t traffic investigations.”

In other words, if you drive drunk, you lose your license. But if you drive drunk and kill someone, you can keep driving.

Hentoff [the victim’s family’s attorney] calls the police department’s interpretation of the law “absolutely flawed logic.”

Driver in DUI-death case still at the wheel, Laurie Roberts, The Arizona Republic. Aug. 25, 2007

We’ve heard this double jeopardy business before from the police department, Continue reading Double Jeopardy and Flawed Logic