Pedestrian accident highlights dangers of rainy roadways

Roseville's latest incident is part of broader patterns
By: Scott Thomas Anderson, Editor
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In the wake of an Auburn man receiving life-threatening injuries from being struck by a car in Roseville, law enforcement is cautioning drivers and pedestrians alike to remember that with winter storms come dangerous visibility issues.  

The accident happened just before 6 p.m. on Nov. 28, when the Roseville Police Department responded to a man down on Harding Boulevard. The incident happened in the 200 block of the boulevard in the southbound lane. 

Roseville police spokeswoman Dee Dee Gunther said it appeared Thomas Whittaker crossed the street “in dark, rainy conditions” and did not use a crosswalk. According to Gunther, Whittaker stepped directly in the path of a 2007 Toyota Prius, which was not able to brake in time to avoid hitting him. Whittaker was rushed by ambulance to a local hospital in critical condition. 

The boulevard was closed in both directions between Lead Hill Blvd. and Estates Drive for nearly five hours.

“The road was closed for some time while members of Roseville Police’s Major Accident Investigation Team examined the scene,” Gunther said.

By Nov. 29 Whittaker’s condition was upgraded from critical to serious.  

In Placer County, pedestrian versus vehicle collisions are monitored by the Newcastle office of the California Highway Patrol. Without commenting directly on Whittaker’s case, CHP officer Dave Martinez cautioned that stormy weather intensifies the likelihood of tragedies on the roadways.

“From a driver’s perspective, you have to understand when the roads are slick your vehicle is not going to do what it’s supposed to do, especially when it comes to stopping distances,” Martinez said. “It’s important you keep a high visual horizon and your eyes up ahead.”

Martinez added the law requires drivers to have their headlights on, night or day, if it’s raining.

Pedestrians are advised to wear bright and reflective clothing and always attempt to make eye contact with drivers while using a crosswalk.

“You have to remember that a lot of drivers are looking out for other cars, not pedestrians,” Martinez said. “A motorist’s vision will be impaired by the rain. Sometimes when these accidents happen we’ll hear about who had the right-of-way and who was at fault, but those things only matter so much when a collision results in death or permanent injuries —it’s best to avoid them all together.”