PETALUMA, Calif. - In the North Bay, a mother and her toddler son are recovering after being hit in a crosswalk Monday. Both are out of the hospital, and the driver stopped at the scene, but Petaluma Police say vehicle -pedestrian accidents are a growing problem.
"He was buckled into his stroller, which was good," investigating officer Mario Giomi told KTVU.
The stroller flew about 40 feet, but the boy was not ejected from it, which likely protected him from more serious injury.
The pair had just left Walnut Park at 4th and D Streets, for a short walk home. Just steps into the crosswalk, the 33 year old woman and her 18 month-old baby were struck by an SUV turning left.
She was knocked down, and knocked unconscious. When she came to, she could see strangers tending to her son. Some ran from a restaurant across the street.
"This child was too young to tell you what hurts , where it hurts, why it hurts," said Ofc. Giomi, "so it was nerve-wracking."
57 year old Lynda Jacobsen of Petaluma was at the wheel of the Hyundai Santa Fe. She told officers she didn't see anyone in the crosswalk, and she couldn't explain why she hit the pair.
"We investigate a lot of collisions where, for whatever reason, drivers don't see pedestrians," observed Ofc. Giomi.
Police found no indication of impairment or distraction, and Jacobsen was in tears after the accident.
"She was very emotional and upset," acknowledged Ofc. Giomi, "and I don't think she will forget this."
One block over on Petaluma's main boulevard, some crosswalks have been equipped with flashing lights, so that pedestrians can alert drivers before they step off the curb.
Petaluma has a population of 60,000, and residents say they've never seen it so congested. Many drivers opt for surface streets to avoid back-ups on the north-south 101 freeway. .
"Last year we had three fatal incidents involving pedestrians," Lt. Tim Lyons told KTVU, nothing that traffic enforcement has been stepped-up.
So far in 2017, Petaluma has racked up 18 pedestrian-involved injury collisions. That's one more than in all of 2016, and seven more than the 2015 total.
The victim Monday told police that Jacobsen did not have her turn signal on , so she assumed she was going straight and stepped into the crosswalk.
"I always make eye contact with the person who seems to be in possible conflict with me," advised Lt. Lyons, "so I make sure they know I'm there, and I know they see me."
"There are a lot more people, lots more cars, lots more problems," observed longtime resident Roger Horick, crossing the same intersection with wife Bonnie, a few hours later.
"We almost got hit one time, actually a couple of times," Horick shared.
"Sometimes the sun is in their eyes, and if Roger didn't pull me back and out of the way, I would have been hit for sure," chimed in Bonnie.
Traffic engineers may look at whether this intersection needs a warning system, but police say the best life-saving strategy is simply paying attention.
"Absolutely, and anytime you get hit by a car and can walk away from it you're extremely lucky," concluded Giomi.
Jacobsen was not cited at the scene, but could be when the investigation is finished. The mother and son were treated and released from Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital.