News in Brief: Woman Dies After Car Hits Her

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A 72-year-old woman died yesterday morning after being hit by a car in central Berkeley while she tried to cross the street, police said.

Paramedics were immediately dispatched to the scene, but the woman, whose name is being withheld pending notification of her family, was pronounced dead at Highland Hospital in Oakland later that morning, a hospital nursing supervisor said.

While the accident is under investigation, preliminary findings indicate the car was obeying the 25 mph speed limit, Berkeley police Officer Bob Rollins said. It is not known if the driver, who was not arrested, saw the woman before the impact, he said.

The victim's age may have contributed to her death, Rollins said, noting that for a younger person, a similar impact might not have been fatal.

Such accidents are a fairly rare occurrence in Berkeley, with usually no more than one or two each year, Rollins said. This may be the first pedestrian death since last year, he said.

"They're few and far apart," he said.

Berkeley Mayor Shirley Dean said the accident serves as a further reminder that the city needs to do more to ensure pedestrian safety.

Dean said that while she doubts any city policy could have prevented the woman's death, a public more mindful of pedestrians and traffic could help.

"I don't know what you can do to get drivers and pedestrians to begin to think more about their safety," Dean said. "Clearly, the city has got to get the message out."

While cracking down on jaywalkers may be helpful, Dean said that as a jaywalker herself, she would not appreciate receiving citations.

A better compromise might include giving warnings instead of citations, and mandating some sort of pedestrian safety school, Dean said.

"I don't want to be vindictive and come down hard on people," Dean said. "If there is some way we can educate people, things might get better," Dean said.

In addition, painting more crosswalks could encourage more pedestrians to obey the rules, Dean said.

Nate Tabak


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