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Barrio Logan residents demand safety above Chicano Park

Taller containment walls proposed for Coronado bridge after crash

Jacob Contreras spoke about his aunt and uncle who were among those killed when Richard Anthony Sepolio's truck flew off the bridge October 15.
Jacob Contreras spoke about his aunt and uncle who were among those killed when Richard Anthony Sepolio's truck flew off the bridge October 15.

A family member of two victims of a drunk driver whose vehicle flew off the Coronado Bridge and into Chicano Park on Saturday broke the silence from the families of those involved before assembled media at the park on Thursday afternoon (October 20).

"It's been traumatic for all of us," said Jacob Contreras, nephew to Cruz and Annamarie Contreras of Chandler, Arizona. The couple was killed along with Andre Banks and Francine Jimenez when Richard Anthony Sepolio, who had reportedly been drinking and was driving aggressively, lost control of his pickup while on the bridge.

"My uncle spent almost two decades serving children in Arizona, working with teens who bounced in and out of a system with nowhere to go," Contreras continued. His aunt and uncle had recently retired after spending the past 25 years hosting foster children. "As you can imagine with a guidance counselor and a special-needs teacher's aide they weren't rich monetarily, but they were rich with love."

Contreras noted that Thursday would have been Annamarie's 51st birthday.

"We went earlier this morning to buy birthday balloons for my aunt. Normally this would be in celebration, planning for a party, but not today."

While relatives and members of the community continued to mourn, others demanded safety measures from Caltrans, which manages the bridge.

"Caltrans knows there's a problem. We've told them, but nothing has ever been done," said Tommie Camarillo, a longtime member of the Chicano Park Steering Committee. "They need to do something so that if there's an accident up there it doesn't end up down here."

There have been other accidents in recent years, though none until now have resulted in fatalities. Community members have said a motorcycle, car tires, and other dangerous debris has fallen into the park in recent years. Each incident has led to a call for taller containment walls along the bridge or other safety measures, which Barrio Logan residents say has fallen on deaf ears.

"This is a park, with kids and families here all the time," continued Camarillo. "We have a problem that needs to be addressed immediately."

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Jacob Contreras spoke about his aunt and uncle who were among those killed when Richard Anthony Sepolio's truck flew off the bridge October 15.
Jacob Contreras spoke about his aunt and uncle who were among those killed when Richard Anthony Sepolio's truck flew off the bridge October 15.

A family member of two victims of a drunk driver whose vehicle flew off the Coronado Bridge and into Chicano Park on Saturday broke the silence from the families of those involved before assembled media at the park on Thursday afternoon (October 20).

"It's been traumatic for all of us," said Jacob Contreras, nephew to Cruz and Annamarie Contreras of Chandler, Arizona. The couple was killed along with Andre Banks and Francine Jimenez when Richard Anthony Sepolio, who had reportedly been drinking and was driving aggressively, lost control of his pickup while on the bridge.

"My uncle spent almost two decades serving children in Arizona, working with teens who bounced in and out of a system with nowhere to go," Contreras continued. His aunt and uncle had recently retired after spending the past 25 years hosting foster children. "As you can imagine with a guidance counselor and a special-needs teacher's aide they weren't rich monetarily, but they were rich with love."

Contreras noted that Thursday would have been Annamarie's 51st birthday.

"We went earlier this morning to buy birthday balloons for my aunt. Normally this would be in celebration, planning for a party, but not today."

While relatives and members of the community continued to mourn, others demanded safety measures from Caltrans, which manages the bridge.

"Caltrans knows there's a problem. We've told them, but nothing has ever been done," said Tommie Camarillo, a longtime member of the Chicano Park Steering Committee. "They need to do something so that if there's an accident up there it doesn't end up down here."

There have been other accidents in recent years, though none until now have resulted in fatalities. Community members have said a motorcycle, car tires, and other dangerous debris has fallen into the park in recent years. Each incident has led to a call for taller containment walls along the bridge or other safety measures, which Barrio Logan residents say has fallen on deaf ears.

"This is a park, with kids and families here all the time," continued Camarillo. "We have a problem that needs to be addressed immediately."

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Comments
17

It was a stupid idea to place a park below a bridge in the first place. Bridge railings, K-rails, are designed to deflect most vehicles but as we all know, including the CHP and CalTrans that the K-rail can be breached by many larger vehicles as well as cars if hit at the right speed and angle. This crash was foreseeable, inevitable and preventable.

Oct. 21, 2016

Some people also think "pocket parks"' and "parklets" in cities are "stupid" but they aren't. This trend will grow and grow. The more parks we have, the better! Those who oppose new parks so vehemently probably never use them, and instead yell: "Get off my lawn, kids!"

Oct. 23, 2016

If Chicano Park were a park for white San Diegans, the problem would have been fixed by Caltrans sometime ago! Shame on Caltrans.

Oct. 21, 2016

White San Diegans would have enough common sense to NOT have a park UNDERNEATH A BRIDGE with vehicles weighing 4,000 to 15,000 lbs whizzing by overhead.

Oct. 22, 2016

I suggest Euro-American Park be established below the approach and departure areas of Runway 9/27 at Lindbergh Field. You could shuttle people between both areas on luggage tugs via Taxiway Bravo.

Oct. 22, 2016

Then there's always room for picnics in the parks at Quebec Impact Area, Whiskey Impact Area, and Zulu Impact Area located inside beautiful and scenic Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton...

Oct. 22, 2016

Military bases are restricted, of course, Duh!

Oct. 23, 2016

Do you HONESTLY think that I would advocate people to picnic in a place where live artillery rounds are coming down?

Actually for the ISIS gang, I would....

Oct. 24, 2016

No. I just thought that attempt at satire was a bit of a stretch.

Oct. 24, 2016

Being in power, white leaders in San Diego knew that parkland would become available. They didn't have to look under bridges for park spaces.

Oct. 23, 2016

Building parks and other public spaces below freeways is a growing trend in cities throughout the world. Google it!

Oct. 23, 2016

Caltrans didn't want anything under the bridge in the first place but their hand was forced by local community leaders. That's who should be sued here

Oct. 21, 2016

That's a simplification over the creation of Chicano Park, and NO "local community leaders" will be sued. That's ridiculous. It is a San Diego Historic Landmark, and that's well-deserved. The full story about its creation can be read here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chicano_Park

Oct. 21, 2016

If Wiki article is accurate, I stand corrected. Sue the 1969 members of the Chicano Park Steering Committee, and the City Council for putting it in a dumb location, in spite of CalTrans advice and half-hearted resistance.

Oct. 22, 2016

There is a process called adaptive reuse. It's been around for decades, and is growing in urban areas. I doubt if there were any open spaces available for Chicano Park when it was first envisioned. An available space under the bridge was ugly and unacceptable until the community saw its potential. It's not a "dumb location," and that's obvious, Captain!

Oct. 23, 2016

"Obviously" with the death of four innocent people and the concern over this happening again along with the many other incidences that have happened, it was a VERY dumb location.

Oct. 26, 2016

Here's another example of a public park being built where it's not supposed to be. But it's become a huge draw for both locals and tourists. From Wikipedia: "The High Line (also known as the High Line Park) is a 1.45-mile-long (2.33 km) New York City linear park built in Manhattan on an elevated section of a disused New York Central Railroad spur called the West Side Line." What a spectacular new park they created!

Oct. 24, 2016

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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