A 33-year-old Chino Hills woman was hit by a car in the crosswalk at Eucalyptus Avenue and Galloping Hills Road on Monday, just five months after a 31-year-old resident was killed in the same crosswalk.
Ashley Nicole Bautista was found in the westbound lane of Eucalyptus Avenue west of Chino Hills Community Park suffering from injuries when deputies from the Chino Hills Police station arrived at the scene at approximately 6:30 p.m.
She was struck by 24-year-old Karolyn Rose Jaranilla of Chino Hills who was driving westbound on Eucalyptus, according to a press release from the Chino Hills Police Department.
Ms. Bautista sustained major trauma and was transported to Pomona Valley Medical Center in Pomona. Ms. Jaranilla remained at the scene and cooperated with the investigation, according to the press release.
Last September, Juan Liu, a resident of China, was struck at approximately 8:45 p.m. by a vehicle also driven by a 24-year-old and transported to Pomona Valley Hospital where she died a short time later.
Reaction was swift this week on Chino Hills neighborhood social media pages after Kathy Wilkinson posted that she saw Ms. Bautista in the roadway during a walk with her dog.
Ms. Wilkinson told the Champion Tuesday she saw a slumped figure in the road and somebody standing over her. She said a man got out of his car and began directing traffic, but cars were still speeding on Eucalyptus.
Both accidents occurred when it was dark.
Ms. Wilkinson said the intersection is very popular with hikers and walkers because of the nearby trail and park. “Drivers don’t even see the crosswalk,” she said. “When you’re a pedestrian in the crosswalk, people don’t stop, even if you put your hand out.” She suggested the city install a push button that activates flashing lights on the crosswalk.
Galloping Hills/Buckhaven area resident Ray Ocampo said when he drives out from Galloping Hills, he finds it difficult to see vehicles coming up on Eucalyptus unless he goes over the crosswalk because the fence along Eucalyptus obstructs the view, even while driving his high-profile SUV.
“I won’t make any conclusion yet, but if you’re driving eastbound on Eucalyptus, the crosswalk is not readily visible because there is a shallow dip on the intersection,” he said. “Before you know it, you are right on the crosswalk, especially if you’re going more than 35 miles per hour.”
Mayor Art Bennett said he was saddened about the accident and hopes the pedestrian recovers. “This is very unfortunate and it’s the second time there has been an accident in the same location,” he said. “We’re going to put this on fast forward to address the safety concerns and see what we can do to alleviate the problem.”
Chino Hills Police Capt. John Walker said the traffic investigation for the accident in September was completed in January. He said the primary collision factor was unsafe speed. He cited the Vehicle Code section that stated the safe speed in which to travel for the conditions (pedestrians crossing the roadway) is “zero miles per hour.”
Prior to the September 2019 accident, the city had been actively searching for grant funding to conduct an analysis of the city’s crosswalk system, according to Public Works Director Daniel Bobadilla.
Mr. Bobadilla told the Public Works Commission on Wednesday that the city received a $72,000 grant requiring an $8,000 match from the city to be funded with gas tax funds.
He said the “Local Roadway Safety Plan” will be prepared by a consultant and is scheduled to be completed in December 2020.
“Given the situation, that two accidents occurred in five months, the goal is to look at the intersection separately from the overall study,” he said. “We want to see what we can do to improve the safety at that crosswalk.”
Mr. Bobadilla said there is sufficient lighting at the crosswalk and it is properly striped. He advised residents to pay close attention when they’re walking and driving. “Crosswalks are not a safe haven,” he said. “People have a false sense of security that they are safe. They need to pay attention and look around.”