A pedestrian was struck and killed by a pickup on the afternoon of August 31st in Pacific Beach. The driver had made an illegal left turn onto westbound Grand Avenue from Dawes Street.
“The 28-year-old driver was cited for ‘Violation of Signs’ for making an illegal left turn onto westbound Grand Avenue,” said SDPD officer Dino Delimitros.
In San Diego, the fine for such an infraction ranges between $200 and $400, according to information from different online sources. The driver’s vehicle was temporarily impounded as evidence for the coroner’s investigation.
“The victim’s name has not been released, as the next-of-kin has not been notified,” stated Lisa Gonzales of the Medical Examiner’s Office.
“He was a walker,” says the victim’s friend, Carol O’Conner. “He was exceptionally alert and coherent about crossing streets. He would walk to Ocean Beach or La Jolla every morning just for the exercise. He was semi-retired and was responsible for maintenance repairs on a ranch in Alpine. He had at least 100 friends that I know of.”
According to nearby residents, the driver’s field of vision was likely obscured by shrubs in the median. A witness who lives in an apartment on the corner was having a smoke outside and observed that the driver was looking over his shoulder for oncoming traffic as he made the turn, thus preventing him from seeing the pedestrian. Though there is no crosswalk at the intersection, because of the shrubs, the errant driver likely would not have seen anyone in a crosswalk either.
“The city was warned that the wall of tall shrubs in the median is a liability to pedestrians,” says local resident Julie Cohen. “Months ago I observed as my neighbor sent an email to the City of San Diego Street Division reporting that planting a wall of tall shrubs was a major fail and causes an extreme hazardous potential of collisions and injuries.”
To date, the City of San Diego Street Division has not responded to the email warning, according to Cohen.
Grand Avenue is one of the busiest streets in PB and has considerably fewer stoplights and crosswalks than Garnet Avenue. Along the western part of Grand, the city planted greenery in the median years ago, but instead of ground cover, a variety of shrubs, including Indian Hawthorn, was planted. The shrubbery can grow to a height of about four feet — and it has, on the one-foot-wide median near the intersection where the pedestrian was killed.
Bill Hurdle, a former landscaper for UCSD, says, “When I see tree branches growing under and colliding with the eaves of a house, it is evident to me that the height factor of the new planting was overlooked. When purchased, the height of all new plants is readily available. As far as your question of why the city varied from the ‘ground cover’ standard for the median…that puzzles me.”
(corrected 9/10, 3 p.m.)