A Sonora man was injured Saturday night after being hit by a woman’s vehicle while walking outside of a marked crosswalk on Stockton Road near the Mother Lode Fairgrounds.
Just after 7 p.m., the Sonora Police Department responded to the vehicle vs. pedestrian call and determined that a 2004 red Honda SUV driven by a 47-year-old Sonora woman had struck a Sonora man, 38, while he crossed the highway away from the fairgrounds and outside of a marked crosswalk. The man sustained moderate to severe injuries.
Sgt. Glen Roberts said the accident was still under investigation with officers working to determine a “whole slough” of calculations related to the accident, such as the actions of the driver beforehand, her visibility and driving speed, how far away the man was from the crosswalk, and the presence of other vehicles and pedestrians in the area.
“All crosswalks are a big concern, especially in this area. It’s a large area, it’s dark, and a lot of people do not comply with going to the crosswalk to cross the street on their own,” he said. “That is something we are working on.”
Three officers responded to the scene and were supported by officials from the California Highway Patrol, Sonora City Fire and Tuolumne County Ambulance, he said. Stockton Road was reduced to one-way traffic briefly during the accident investigation, he added.
The man was medi-flighted to a Modesto area hospital for treatment of his injuries, which are believed to be non-life-threatening, Roberts said.
Roberts said he did not have information available to specify the nature of the man’s injuries.
Officers believe the man had attended the King of the Mountain California Fighting Championship held at the Mother Lode Fairgrounds that evening, but it is still unknown if the man was under the influence of alcohol until a toxicology report is made available, Roberts said.
One of the fighters at the event, Oscar Martinez, of O C Services and Bail Bonds, confirmed that alcohol was sold at the event, with the first fight of the evening beginning about 6:45 p.m.
The event concluded just before 10 p.m., he said, and he estimated that about 500 people were in attendance.
Saturday’s accident recalled for many a Stockton Road accident in March 2015 in which Kathy Warner, 61, of Stockton, was hit and killed by a vehicle after leaving the Sonora Celtic Faire.
Downtown Sonora was also the site of two more high-profile vehicle pedestrian accidents involving children over the fall and summer, when a 1999 white Ford SUV, driven by a 78-year-old Sonora man, struck a 23 year-old Woodland woman and her child while they crossed Washington Street in mid-September, and when a Tuolumne County Sheriff’s chaplain struck a 10-year old on his bicycle at the Washington Street and Stockton Road crosswalk.
None of the victims in the two accidents sustained life-threatening injuries as a result of the collision, but the dozens of the additional vehicle on pedestrian accidents recorded by Caltrans in downtown Sonora since 2010 has prompted a public outcry for the institution of new traffic safety tools and stricter enforcement of crosswalk violations.
A CHP and Sonora Police Department joint-operation throughout Tuolumne County during “Pedestrian Safety Month” in September sought to educate the public the dangers of area crosswalks for both drivers and pedestrians.
The operation netted more than 100 total citations, 33 of which were crosswalk safety violations, over three different days.
Sonora resident Dale Batchelor, the victim of vehicle on pedestrian accident on Washington Street last winter, has taken it upon himself to remedy what the city won’t, he said.
Monday morning, Batchelor installed a pedestrian crossing sign at the corner of South Washington Street and Stockton Road, which he identified as the “most dangerous” area in the downtown area for pedestrians.
“Pedestrians are on their own luck,” he said. “There’s people that can’t see the pedestrians until they’re halfway across the street. It is unfixable, it is too narrow of a street.”
The accident on Saturday was a reminder to his own accident, Batchelor said, when a woman on her phone pulled out of Bradford Street onto Washington Street, knocking him down in the intersection.
“I was walking down the opposite side of the street when it was raining,” he explained, and was trotting across the street to get to the other side when he was hit, the car rolled over his feet, and came to a stop while still on one of his feet,” he said.
“I was screaming for her to reverse.”
Batchelor said a series of solutions, including a permanent sign, fixing the cross lights, and enforcement for cars entering into the non-existent right-turn lane at South Washington Street and Stockton Road could eliminate the incidence of accidents.
But the nature of Washington Street made certain vehicle on pedestrian accidents “unavoidable,” he added.
Sgt. Roberts that a final accident report on the most recent collision would likely require about a month of work to ensure that the findings were accurate.