In the past week, two more victims have been killed by hit-and-run drivers – making this the deadliest year for such accidents since 2009.
Just after midnight on June 19, 32-year-old Sandro Garcia hit and killed a woman who was walking across Interstate 5 downtown. Garcia fled the scene, but called California Highway Patrol a short while later to report the collision. He was arrested at his home.
Two days later, the body of 27-year-old Amber Schei was discovered in the brush just off Nimitz Boulevard in Ocean Beach. She had apparently been skateboarding when she was struck and killed. San Diego Police are still looking for the hit-and-run driver.
Both fatalities fit one of the few discernible patterns to emerge from local hit-and-run accidents: Most occur on or near freeways (Schei’s body was found near an onramp to the I-8 and I-5 freeways).
In the past five years, 59 pedestrians and bicyclists have been killed countywide by drivers who fled the scene, according to numbers from the San Diego County Medical Examiner’s Office. Between 2009 and 2013, hit-and-run pedestrian fatalities ranged from five to 12 victims a year. Less than six full months into 2014, 13 pedestrians have been killed.
Those numbers also don’t take into account other kinds of victims of hit-and-run drivers, like those on motorcycles or in cars.
Data is a challenge when looking for trends in hit-and-runs. The California Highway Patrol, for example, keeps detailed traffic statistics, but does not release information more recent than 2012.
From the cases provided by the county Medical Examiner’s Office, however, we know that roughly 40 percent of the hit-and-runs since 2009 happened within the city of San Diego.
A larger challenge, however, is making use of any visible trends. Stats fluctuate with no identifiable patterns, said Mark McCullough from the San Diego Police Department’s Traffic Division.
“Stats are going to go up, and when they do go up, they make the news, and we go out and take a reactive stance. Then they go back down. We might have something to do with that, or we might not,” McCullough said.