A California Highway Patrol officer struck and killed a man who was running across State Highway 92 on Wednesday night, Sept. 20, CHP Capt. Jason Cavett, who commands the Redwood City office, said during a press conference on Thursday.
The officer was transporting another man in custody for suspicion of driving under the influence and was driving east on Highway 92 in San Mateo at about 10 p.m. According to Cavett, a male adult pedestrian emerged from the shoulder just south of the Delaware Street off ramp and ran north across the highway lanes. The officer, who was driving a CHP patrol car, had little or no time to avoid hitting the man, who had already crossed the slow lane and was headed into the fast lane where the officer was driving. The pedestrian was nearly right in front of the patrol car, according to CHP. The pedestrian was struck by the front and left driver's side of the patrol car and landed in the grassy portion of the median, Cavett said.
The officer pulled over to the right-hand shoulder of the highway, but he did not exit his patrol car to render aid because the officer had a suspect in custody in his vehicle, according to Cavett. Cavett said it was also too risky to cross the highway due to fast-moving traffic, but the officer radioed for help. Paramedics who arrived on scene were unable to revive the pedestrian, he said. The officer and his passenger were not injured.
"This is a tragic incident," Cavett said. "The officer is taking it hard even if he may have done nothing wrong. He's coping with it."
He added that the officer is not on paid leave, but the department is assessing his well being after the crash. He would be given any time off that he needs.
There were no cars parked in the area, which would have given the officer an indication of any possible pedestrian who might be present. The area was closed for investigation for six hours and reopened at 4 a.m.
Investigators are looking into why the man was running across the road and other circumstances and conditions that led to the incident. The patrol car's camera was active at the time of the incident because the officer was transporting a person, Cavett said.
Cavett has seen the patrol car video of the collision.
"It's never an easy thing to see. We are taking steps to treat this with the respect it deserves," he said.
There have not been any other similar crashes involving a pedestrian and a CHP vehicle in at least the three years that Cavett has been with the CHP office, he said. The area where the incident occurred is not well lit, but there are signs prohibiting pedestrians on the highway.
"We ask people to stay off the highway," he said, adding that traffic may seem light, but one is likely to misjudge how fast it is going.
The San Mateo County Coroner's Office will be in charge of identifying the man. It's not known if his next of kin have been notified.