'Absolutely tragic:' Pedestrian fatalities in Kern near 2016 total

Supervisor Perez says pedestrian safety committee will convene this fall

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - Just before 9:15 Thursday night, a man was in a crosswalk when he was hit by a car at the intersection of Bernard and King Streets in northeast Bakersfield.

The man pronounced dead, not at fault, and CHP is considering charges against the driver Melody Cavazos.

An hour later in downtown Bakersfield a skateboarder was hit by a car at Chester and Truxtun.

Bakersfield Police say the skateboarder was at fault, turning against a red light.

And just before 2:30 Friday morning, a pedestrian was killed by 23-year-old William Bass, allegedly driving under the influence according to BPD, on Stockdale Highway.

Three pedestrian incidents in one night, and two deaths. bringing Kern's total pedestrian deaths in 2017 to an alarming high 27; One shy of last year's total number of deaths.

We've been keeping track of pedestrian deaths for six years now, and 2017 very well could double last year's total deaths.

Here is a map of all of the pedestrian deaths we've tracked in Kern County.

"It's absolutely tragic," said District Five Kern County Supervisor Leticia Perez reacting to the latest numbers.

Perez, along with Supervisor Mike Maggard, spearheaded a committee on pedestrian safety in 2014.

While Perez acknowledged the committee has not convened recently, she plans on gathering Bakersfield City Council Members and community leaders again.

"Now that we are getting through this budget cycle and things are looking a bit more promising, we want to make sure we are investing in this area. It's very important to the public, it's very important to us and we've had an ad hoc between both city and county and we will begin that process again in the fall," said Perez. 

Perez says federal Community Development Block Grant funds have contributed to near a million dollars already spent on pedestrian safety improvements, hoping for more to come.

"We're talking about crosswalks, where people actually cross. We're talking about increased lighting, better access for folks who travel by wheelchair or who have challenges with mobility," elaborated Perez.

The supervisor hopes to work on a messaging campaign on pedestrian safety.

"Certainly we can do more, I acknowledge that. Supervisor Maggard acknowledges that... and we're partners in making this come to fruition," said Perez.

Supervisor Perez says she has already spoken with Supervisors Maggard and Council member Willie Rivera about bringing this issue back to the forefront this September. 

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