Wallace “Wally” Bradfield, a 76-year-old Twentynine Palms resident was killed in a San Bernardino County pedestrian accident and 86-year-old Joseph Perez, suffered major injuries after both elderly residents were hit from behind by a motorist. According to this news report in the San Bernardino Sun, Bradfield and Perez were taking a walk on El Paseo Drive the morning of February 23, 2009 near Yucca Avenue when a woman driving a Chevrolet Cavalier drifted across both, the westbound lane and the bicycle lane, striking the two men.
The driver was identified as Peggy Burke. She apparently suffered minor injuries. Bradfield was pronounced dead at the scene. Perez was taken to a local hospital with severe injuries. San Bernardino County Sheriff’s officials say alcohol does not appear to be a factor in this crash.
I offer my deepest sympathies to the family and friends of Wallace “Wally” Bradfield for their tragic loss. It is heartbreaking to lose a loved one as a result of someone else’s negligence. I also wish Joseph Perez the very best for a speedy and complete recovery. Please keep them all in your prayers.
According to 2006 statistics from California Highway Patrol’s Statewide Integrated Traffic Reporting System, in Twentynine Palms there were no pedestrian accident related deaths and six injuries relating to pedestrian accidents. During the same period in San Bernardino County as a whole, 57 fatalities and 448 injuries involving San Bernardino County pedestrian accidents were reported.
California Vehicle Code section 21966 states: “No pedestrian shall proceed along a bicycle path or lane where there is an adjacent adequate pedestrian facility.” So the question that arises here is why Bradfield and Perez were walking on the bike lane. Was there a functioning sidewalk on that Twentynine Palms roadway? If not, then the city or governmental agency responsible for maintaining that roadway could be held liable for creating a dangerous condition on the roadway and contributing to this tragic crash. I would also be interested to know how many other pedestrian accidents have occurred on this roadway.
That said, the main problem here seems to have been with the driver, Peggy Burke, whose vehicle drifted across two lanes and hit the pedestrians. Why did she lose control of her vehicle? Was she distracted? Did she fall asleep at the wheel? Was she under the influence of prescription drugs? Did she suffer a medical condition? I trust traffic investigators are looking at the complete picture to determine what happened here. If Burke is determined to have been negligent, then she should be held liable for the accident, injuries and fatality.
Wallace Bradfield’s family and the injured victim, Joseph Perez, would be well-advised to retain the services of a reputed Southern California pedestrian accident attorney, who will identify the negligent parties in this case and hold them accountable. A skilled personal injury lawyer will also look at whether a dangerous condition on the roadway or defective roadway design may have played a part in the accident. Please remember that any claim against a governmental agency must be properly filed within six months of an accident.