The community of Pinole is in mourning after a longtime local church staff member was fatally struck by a vehicle in the city on Tuesday, July 19.
Police responded to the intersection of Tennent Avenue and Pear Street, near St. Joseph’s Church, on Tuesday afternoon after a woman was struck in the crosswalk as she was crossing the street. “The driver of the vehicle is not believed to have been speeding, but rather was distracted,” citiy officials reported.
The victim was identified by Father Geoffrey Baraan of St. Joseph’s Church as Carol Lujan, a Faith Formation Coordinator for the church. A devastated Father Baraan reported on Facebook that he had been with Lujan just minutes before the collision and was the person who called 911. His message was posted before Lujan died from her injuries at the hospital.
“Carol is a very dedicated and committed staff who has been guiding our Faith Formation program for many years,” Father Baraan said. “Let us continue to pray for her and her husband, Ed and family. This is a very difficult and challenging time for them.”
Lujan’s sister-in-law, Annette Freeman Bishop, reported on social media that her family is “beyond devastated.” Lujan leaves behind her husband of 43 years, four children, seven grandchildren, one brother, two sisters, nieces and nephews, in-laws and “many, many friends,” Bishop said.
“She was very involved with her church in Pinole where this tragedy occurred,” she added.
In a letter posted to social media on Monday, Pinole Mayor Vincent Salimi said the city is “deeply saddened about the death of a community member” and will investigate the feasibility of augmenting traffic safety at the intersection. Currently, the intersection “has appropriate engineering controls in place, a low speed limit, visible crosswalks and and mid-intersection signs alerting drivers to the crosswalk,” the mayor said. In addition, the mayor said, police regularly patrols the section of roadway and conducts traffic enforcement operations there, and the city educates drivers with signage along the corridor and other traffic safety communication.
“Any traffic-related injury is one too many, and the death is a shocking and sad event,” Mayor Salimi said, adding, “The City will explore the feasibility of installing additional traffic safety measures in this area, including possibly a pedestrian-activated flashing sign on Tennent Avenue.”
The mayor also noted the city is in the midst of finalizing a Local Road Safety Plan to identify intersections and corridors of greatest concern. Traffic safety improvements have additionally begun, or have recently been completed, on San Pablo Avenue at the Del Monte Drive and Walter Avenue intersections, Appian Way and Fitzgerald Drive, Pinole Valley Road and Rafaela Street, and Appian Way and Marlesta Road, with improvements to more roads coming soon, he said. The City is also creating an Active Transportation Plan to provide recommendations on ways to improve the safety and efficience of all forms of
“The City encourages all community members to be thoughtful and responsible in their actions in order to help maintain the safety of our community,” Mayor Salimi said. “Safety is our number one priority. I take it personally. I lost my grandfather at the age of 3 in a pedestrian accident.”