Street where child was hit known for problems
The Desert Sun – Palm Springs, Calif.
The Desert Sun
Desert Hot Springs residents and business owners who live near a stretch of Palm Drive where a 5-year-old boy was critically injured Thursday night after he was hit by a car said speeding motorists are an ongoing problem in the area.
The boy, whose name has not been released, remained hospitalized Friday at Loma Linda University Medical Center, in Loma Linda, in critical condition, officials said.
Shortly after 8:45 p.m. Thursday, the boy and his family were crossing Palm Drive between Camino Campesino and Camino Aventura after a visit to a nearby park.
Eyewitness Jose Aguilar said the group crossed the roadway, which has no crosswalks, and paused midway to let traffic pass.
Witnesses and police said the boy, who was riding a bike and was not wearing a helmet, went ahead of the group and was hit by a car.
On Friday, police identified the driver only as a female. They said she stayed at the scene and cooperated with investigators.
Neither alcohol nor speed were believed to be factors in the crash, Desert Hot Springs police Cmdr. Kate Singer said Friday.
However, a cause is still under investigation.
“It appears it was a horrible event,” Singer said. “It was a sudden, terrible choice of the child to roll out into traffic It’s a difficult area to negotiate, especially at night.”
The boy was rushed to Desert Regional Medical Center in Palm Springs and later flown to Loma Linda University Medical Center in critical condition.
On Friday, officials described his injuries as “grave.”
Although authorities say speed was not a factor, residents and business owners in the area say speeding motorists are a problem.
“Most people don’t understand, you have to drive slow,” said Aguilar, who also takes his children to that park.
It appears the family was heading toward the nearby Palm Drive Mobile Estates mobile home park, 15-685 Palm Drive.
The park contains 134 units and is home to about 200 children, said Sharon Gadley, who manages the property.
The site of Thursday night’s crash is about a mile south of the Nov. 16, 2007, hit-and-run collision that killed 13-year-old Carissa Nwene.
Nwene was struck as she walked along the side of Palm Drive, which at that time had no sidewalks, to school. Her body was thrown about 50 feet from the roadway, and she died at the scene.
An arrest has never been made.
Nwene’s death prompted a movement to install sidewalks along portions of Desert Hot Springs roadways.
There are about 100 yards of sidewalk in front of the mobile home park, where the collision occurred, but there are no crosswalks or stop lights in the area.
A school bus stop was established nearby and children must cross the busy street to reach the mobile home park from the bus stop.
“It should be like any other city for pedestrians,” said Sylvia Patz, owner of Prestige Tires and Automotive, 15-775 Palm Drive.
She added that speeding traffic is so bad on the roadway that she refuses to cross oncoming traffic on Palm Drive to turn into her business.
Instead, she said she drives around the block so she can make a safer right turn into her driveway.
“Trying to pull out is a problem,” said customer Lee Wacher. “Nobody obeys the 40 mph speed limit.”
Gadley said that about a year ago the speed limit in front of the mobile park was lowered to 40 mph, but drivers routinely ignore the lowered speed limit and continue to drive 55 mph or higher.
Brayan Mendoza,16, was sitting with a group of friends at the bus stop nearby on Friday.
He complained about having to cross the street to visit his friend’s house.
“I almost got run over one time,” he said. “I personally think there should be a stop light.”