Safety tips for pedestrians
The driver of a concrete truck that struck and killed woman in a Meridian crosswalk last October won’t be charged, Meridian police said Monday.
Sandy Hernandez-Nuno, 26, died at a local hospital on the same day as the crash.
Meridian police forwarded their investigation to prosecutors, who made the decision not to cite or charge the driver. Meridian contracts with the Boise City Attorneys Office to review cases for possible misdemeanor criminal charges, in this case misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter.
“This really appears to be one of those situations where it was a perfect storm and charging someone really doesn’t serve a purpose,” Deputy Police Chief Tracy Basterrechea told the Statesman via e-mail.
The collision occurred during a common daily scenario in the Treasure Valley: a driver turning right at an intersection and passing through a crosswalk.
Driver inattention was listed as a possible contributing factor in the fatal crash, according to the Idaho Transportation Department’s preliminary crash report.
Ultimately though, investigators never found any evidence that the 46-year-old Boise man was distracted, and witnesses told police that he took the corner slowly, Basterrechea said Monday in a phone interview. The driver worked for Sunroc Corp. of Orem, Utah.
Hernandez-Nuno was on her cellphone when she was hit, Basterrechea said. He said someone had honked at her, and it was unclear if she might have turned back briefly when that happened. Police were unable to find any video recordings of the crash.
Hernandez-Nuno had crossed a bike lane and six vehicle lanes when she was struck, and she was one traffic lane and a bike lane from reaching the curb when she was hit, a crash report diagram shows.
Her fiance, Joshua Swetland, told the Statesman on Monday that she was on her cellphone talking to him when she was hit. She was walking from her job at McDonald’s to some nearby shops to apply for another job.
“She said, ‘Some a--hole almost hit me,’ and then I heard the phone hit the ground, and then all I heard is ‘help’ and it sounded like her voice,” he recalled. “After that, it went quiet.”
Swetland said they were together for nine years. He called Hernandez-Nuno his wife even though they had not yet married; their wedding was planned to be later this year.
“My body is still in shock. It still feels like it’s a dream,” Swetland said. “I just put a fake face on, fake everything, to make people not ask me if I’m OK. I just put a fake smile on. I’m really in very bad pain. I just really miss her. I go to her grave every weekend — over somebody who didn’t want to pay attention or slow down around the corner.”
Don Kostelec, a pedestrian safety advocate with the Idaho Walk Bike Alliance, was surprised to hear that the driver would not be charged, given that Idaho law requires drivers to exercise due caution and that turning drivers must yield the right of way to pedestrians in crosswalks.
“Motorists have a responsibility when making a turn to examine everything, whether it’s vehicles present, pedestrians present or even a bicyclist making a turn,” Kostelec said.
The crash happened at about 5:25 p.m. on Oct. 16 at the intersection of North Eagle Road and West Ustick Road. It was more than 90 minutes before sunset on a cloudy day with dry streets, the crash report says.
The truck driver was traveling north on Eagle Road and turning right, or east, onto Ustick Road, while Hernandez-Nuno was walking south in the crosswalk on Ustick, police said.
The truck driver had a solid green light, and Hernandez-Nuno was crossing when the pedestrian signal said to “walk,” the crash report says.
As the driver was turning, the right front corner of the cement truck he was driving struck Hernandez-Nuno, the report says, and the impact threw her “into the path of the cement truck, and [she] was run over by the tires on the left side of the vehicle.”
The driver did not exhibit any signs of intoxication from alcohol or drugs, but his blood was tested for alcohol. None was found in his system, the crash report shows. Hernandez-Nuno also showed no signs of impairment; she was not tested for alcohol or drugs.
The posted speed limit on Eagle Road is 55 mph. On Ustick, it’s 35 mph. A GoFundMe raised $2,400 for funeral expenses for Henandez-Nuno.