Berkeley Kindergarten Student Killed by Truck

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A Berkeley kindergartner was struck and killed by a truck Friday afternoon at the northwest corner of Derby and Warring streets.

At about 1:45 p.m., the Berkeley Police Department received 911 calls reporting a vehicle collision involving a child, said Berkeley police Sgt. Mary Kusmiss.

From various witness accounts, police gathered that a 2.5 ton Ford truck was traveling southbound on Warring Street when it made an eastbound turn on Derby Street and struck the 5-year-old boy, Kusmiss said.

The LeConte Elementary School student was hit en route to a UC Berkeley after-school program at the Clark Kerr Campus, according to Berkeley Unified School District Spokesperson Mark Coplan.

"It was a tragedy for all of us," Coplan said.

A Berkeley resident administered CPR to the boy shortly after the accident, but Berkeley Fire Department paramedics pronounced him dead when they arrived at the scene, Kusmiss said.

She said the boy's father was notified shortly after the collision.

The driver was cooperative with police after the incident, Coplan said.

"The truck (driver), as soon as he realized, pulled over," he said.

The driver was not under the influence of alcohol or drugs, Kusmiss said.

Officials placed a tent over the body, which remained at the scene until about 4:30 p.m. for investigative purposes.

Kusmiss said the boy was in the company of several classmates traveling to the same location.

UC Berkeley spokesperson Dan Mogulof said an adult was present when the child, the son of a UC Berkeley graduate student, was hit.

Coplan said there were over a dozen witnesses to the collision, but most did not see the actual incident.

"Most peoples' attention wasn't drawn to it until after the fact," he said. "Hopefully there are one or two (witnesses) who have more specific information."

The department's Fatal Accident Investigation Team is currently analyzing the incident to identify more details, Kusmiss said.

UC Berkeley senior Matt Harris said he was not surprised the accident occurred at the location.

"I've seen people almost get hit at that intersection," he said. "At night especially, you can't see anything."

Kusmiss said that fatal collisions between vehicles and pedestrians are not typical although the intersection is located at a popular commuting route.

"This is extremely unusual," she said. "There were no fatal collisions last year."

However, the accident marks the second vehicle collision involving a Berkeley elementary school student within 30 days.

On Jan. 30, a 6-year-old Malcolm X Elementary School student was struck by a Toyota 4Runner in a crosswalk at the intersection of Ashby Avenue and Ellis Street. The student underwent surgery but survived.

Coplan said children and their parents should exercise caution when crossing any intersection.

"The message is the same for parents and for every child-to really slow down and take a second look before we cross an intersection," Coplan said.

Lynn Yamashita, a Berkeley resident who lives in the neighborhood, said community members should hold the city and campus accountable for pedestrian safety in the congested intersection.

"I already told (the community) that we should organize," Yamashita said. "And now there's already a death."


Contact Melani Sutedja and Zach A. Williams at [email protected]

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