Investigation ongoing in SRJC hit and run case

An SRJC student walks through a busy Mendocino Avenue crosswalk.

Courtney Paige, Staff Writer

A Santa Rosa Junior College student suffered minor injuries in December when a car failed to yield at a busy crosswalk in front of the college campus.

The student safely entered the marked crosswalk around 11 a.m. Dec. 18, and began to cross Mendocino Avenue at McConnell towards the college campus when a car collided with him.

After activating the crosswalk warning light at one of the city’s busiest corridors in front of SRJC, a light-colored sedan rolled over his backpack and clipped his hand with its front bumper. The female driver fled the scene after asking the student for his phone number.

“We have a society where we are in a fast-paced environment, cell phones and texting are a huge distraction,” said SRJC District Police Lt. Robert Brownlee. “People roll through stop signs. People speed. Drivers don’t yield to pedestrians when they are in a crosswalk.”

Referring to how often driver and pedestrian collisions occur, Brownlee said, “In general, we may have two to three per year on the main corridor in front of the campus.”

According to police officials, traffic safety awareness is as much the responsibility of the pedestrian as it is for the driver. Students’ safety cannot depend on peripheral vision alone. “Once the pedestrian enters into the crosswalk the driver, by law, must yield,” Brownlee said. On the contrary, “If a pedestrian enters a crosswalk abruptly, the pedestrian is at fault.”

Despite the law favoring pedestrians the majority of the time,  Brownlee encourages pedestrians to take personal responsibility for their safety and make eye contact with the driver, be present and aware of their surroundings.

SRJC District Police officials are currently in discussions with the Santa Rosa Police Department to create a safer environment for the community by considering options for better signage, colorful indicators for crosswalk areas and proactive policing.

The investigation is ongoing and SRJC District Police are asking anyone who was in the area around the time of the crime and who may have witnessed the collision or the events afterward to come forward by contacting Officer Brett Wright at (707) 527-1000.