Woman arrested in DUI collision, victim critical condition

The accident that left a young man in critical condition took place north of the UC Berkeley campus at the intersection of Hearst and Spruce

A 24-year-old Oakland man is in critical condition after being hit by a car driven by 83-year-old woman who was driving under the influence in Berkeley on Sunday Sept. 30 at around 8:35pm.

According to Berkeley Police, the collision occurred at the intersection of Hearst Avenue and Spruce Street, near the north-west corner of the UC Berkeley campus.

The pedestrian was transported by the Berkeley Fire Department to a local hospital with severe injuries. The driver, Mary Lou Cordova from San Pablo, stayed at the scene and spoke with investigators. During the course of their investigation the driver was evaluated for driving under the influence and later arrested.

Berkeley Police said they received numerous reports at approximately 8:35pm indicating that a vehicle struck a pedestrian who was crossing the street, causing multiple injuries. Based on the severity of the pedestrian’s injuries the Fatal Accident Investigation Team is investigating the incident.

Anyone with information regarding this collision is encouraged to call the Berkeley Traffic Bureau at (510) 981-5980 or the Berkeley Police Department non-emergency number at (510) 981-5900.

This story was updated with the name of the arrested woman at 12:49pm.

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  • 3rdGenBerkeleyan

    this a very dangerous cross walk, you cant see people stepping out into the crosswalk as you’re coming down Hearst st. plus there are two lanes and if one car stops the other lane doesn’t know why because the stopped car blocks the already bad view of the crosswalk, then you add all the students talking on their Iphones not paying attention which give you a recipe for disaster. very sad!

  • guest

     “there are two lanes and if one car stops the other lane doesn’t know why
    because the stopped car blocks the already bad view of the crosswalk”

    This is why you have to stop when you approach another car going in the same direction that is stopped.  I think that’s the law.  If it’s not, it should be.

  • 3rdGenBerkeleyan

     DUI doesn’t help either.

  • berkopinionator

    Any chance that UCB could create of couple of jobs for crossing guards; or, build a short bridge, like they have at the dorm at the top of Hearst?  There is plenty of $ for other capital projects on campus.

    *A wheelchair accessible ramp/bridge could take advantage of the slope and be built entirely without stairs.

  • 3rdGenBerkeleyan

     the problem is it is deceiving…the cross walk is before the signal so people are focused on the fact they have a green light coming down the hill not thinking there would be a crosswalk just before the signal intersection, and how many times have you seen someone in Berkeley stopped at an intersection for no reason other than looking at their phone,gps or stereo everyday for me.

  • Guest

    Everyone on that road should just slow down and pay attention to everything in the driving environment. If you’re easily tricked by stopped cars or midblock crosswalks, don’t drive, or don’t impair yourself to a degree that you can be tricked.

  • Guest

    I’m not at all sure that the UC has “plenty of $” for much of anything right now.  I don’t mean to ignore the fact that the driver may have been under the influence, but I agree with other posters about the danger of this crosswalk (and others nearby).  I wish we had “on demand” pedestrian walk signals at a number of crosswalks around campus — and frankly, if that caused too much traffic congestion, I wish they’d just remove some of the crosswalks altogether. 

    There are several similar crosswalks (another that comes immediately to mind is Oxford/Addison) where traffic is often heavy, continuous, and hard / risky to step out into — frequently made worse by poor lighting and inconsiderate or inattentive drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists alike.  As a (sober) driver, I’ve had to slam on my breaks at this exact spot before, and as a pedestrian, I’ve had to give up on it altogether and go down to the light b/c traffic won’t stop.  

    Berkeleyside, thank you for reporting on this.  There’s still a fair bit of debris in the area and I’ve been wondering what happened. 

  • Guest

     Seriously? Plenty of money for capital projects? If so, their first duty would be to seismically retrofit unsafe buildings—and there isn’t any money for that.

    Perhaps what is needed is a crosswalk with flashing lights like the one crossing Bancroft.

  • Charles_Siegel

     There is a plan to redesign this part of Hearst to make it safer for pedestrians.  It has gone through the Transportation Commission once. I believe that UC funded the design, but the city will have to find a source of funding to build it.

  • Paul

    Pedestrian bridges? Eliminating crosswalks? I don’t think those ideas are headed in the right direction. 83 year olds who are driving under the influence are clearly part of the problem. If anything, a stop light or flashing crosswalk signal should be added. I don’t think we shouldn’t get rid of pedestrian crosswalks every time some driver hits someone. Further, research has shown that if drivers ‘feel’ like conditions are unsafe, then that can be a good thing as it forces them to pay closer attention. So just because some folks feel that it is unsafe doesn’t mean that it is. Maybe some older person who drank too much before getting behind the wheel just made a huge mistake, and that doesn’t mean we have to redesign everything. 

  • Foo

     It’s not the crosswalk that’s dangerous – it’s the drivers! Removing crosswalks is exactly the wrong response to this type of tragedy. If anything, make more crosswalks, install bulb-outs, do anything possible to slow down the traffic. If it increases traffic congestion, good : that means slower driving speeds.

  • FiatSlug

    Charles, can you point me to any documents that would describe the plan?  I am interested in this as I often walk by that intersection on workdays.

  • The Sharkey

    Berkeley is home to some of the worst drivers I’ve ever encountered in the Bay Area.

  • FiatSlug

    I typically walk through this intersection twice each workday.  In the morning, I pay particular attention to the traffic headed uphill (eastbound) as I am headed towards BART. In the afternoon/evening, the traffic in both directions is often heavy as I head homeward (northbound).  Regardless of the time of day, I will wait for a natural break in traffic.

    In the afternoon, as I wait for traffic to clear, a motorist in the uphill bound lanes will stop for me so that I can begin my journey across.  But that only means I can get halfway and I cautiously wait for the downhill (westbound) traffic to slow and stop so that I can cross.

    My point: a traffic light is almost certainly indicated for this intersection, and it should be timed to be in synch with the lights at Arch/LeConte (uphill) and at Oxford St (downhill).

  • Guest

    In Berkeley, the pedestrians want to say it’s the cyclists and drivers; the drivers say it’s the pedestrians and cyclists; and the cyclists say it’s the drivers and pedestrians.  In my experience, it’s all three plus the city itself, and the situation only breeds mistrust and unpredictability, which makes it all worse. 

    Both north Shattuck and Solano have frequent crosswalks and slower-moving traffic, and yet people seem to have to slam on their brakes even more in those places, because you still have pedestrians stepping out into busy traffic with no signals, and often blocked from visibility by parked cars.  Pedestrians shouldn’t be put in that unsafe of a situation, whether or not “it’s the drivers” fault.  A “near miss” is definitely better than an actual collision, no question, but there’s more to the problem (and the solution) than just pointing a single finger.   

  • John Holland

    I try to walk around berkeley as much as I can, and when I drive, I know the side streets that dodge the barriers.

  • Guest

    And the Bay Area driving culture is THE worst that I have seen (in the US)!

  • Che Joubert

    No offense but how old are you? Out of your teens? Berkeley drivers are the most observant, careful and just plain polite in this area or most areas I’ve ever lived in. I grew up in north Fl with frequent visits to Austin Tx, Chicago, and Kansas City. As an adult I’ve lived and driven in the former, plus downtown Manhattan,Union City NJ, Eugene, Or, London UK, West Va, Honolulu HI, and back and forth across the country by car. all the way, at least 15 times. I’m a real experienced driver now in my late 60’s and can tell you that if you want to see some really crappy driving all you have to do is go anywhere else besides Berkeley. Try Oakland, which is ok but sometimes dangerously pushy, or El Sobrante which is vile. Oh and of course go drive the hills of SF – in two days you wonder how anyone survives. 

    The first blogger got it right in my opinion. Cross walks in Berkeley are poorly lighted and sometimes oddly placed. And you cannot rely on people stopping because you did, because people do stop for a wide variety of reasons. I do tend to stop, and drive like a pansy at night, to be safe, but it is tough with the poor crosswalk situation.

  • Che Joubert

    It’s some drivers yet – but pedestrians in CA often take their life in their hands. I was walking toward University one day and fell into step chatting with a woman who turned out to be a doctor, who was pushing her baby. We got to University and she suddenly, with no warning, shoved the stroller out into the street ahead of her in a defiant manner just as a discrete flock of cars approached that I make it a religious habit to let go by. I’m always trying to give cars a chance to drive normally through timed lights, and I see many other considerate pedestrians do too, but this woman was so out of touch with all realty she could have killed herself and baby and caused a bad accident, if about 7-8 cars hadn’t slammed on breaks at the same time. While I didn’t agree that Berkeley drivers are bad, because they’re incredibly more civil and respectful than almost anywhere I’ve ever lived, I will agree that CA pedestrians are often horrible to cars. 

  • Berkeley resident

    Seriously? Your comment is confusing, but pedestrians have the right to cross (and in fact should cross!) when they have a walk signal. Pedestrians have the right of way at the vast majority of unmarked intersections, too — please respect the actual law and don’t try to create your own rules!

  • cal employee

    It is a dangerous crosswalk that needs blinking lights. I know this poor kid and it is a terrible tragedy. We are all hoping for his recovery as he is severely injured. Both drivers and pedestrians need to pay attention…both are inattentive making Berkeley particularly hazardous for both!

  • Prinzrob

    This collision is tragic, but it is important to note that there are already significant pedestrian improvements planned for the intersection of Hearst and Spruce coming in 2013, as reported by Berkeleyside in June: http://www.berkeleyside.com/2012/06/29/berkeley-puts-in-place-several-bike-friendly-developments/

    The schematic I saw included a sidewalk bulb-out at Spruce, making the crossing of Hearst much shorter, as well as a median that restricts some turning movements and provides a safe refuge for slower walkers in the middle of the street.

    Too bad these improvements did not come sooner, as they may have been able to help avoid this incident. 

  • Prinzrob

    You can find the preliminary plan schematic here (warning, big PDF): http://www.cityofberkeley.info/uploadedFiles/Public_Works/Commissions/Commission_for_Transportation/2012-07-19%20TC%20Agenda%20packet.pdf

  • Prinzrob

    The preliminary design schematic for Hearst can be found online here (warning, large PDF): http://www.cityofberkeley.info/uploadedFiles/Public_Works/Commissions/Commission_for_Transportation/2012-07-19%20TC%20Agenda%20packet.pdf

  • Mbfarrel

    If a driver has to “slam on” their brakes to avoid hitting a pedestrian, the pedestrian did not have the right of way.
    Perhaps you should check out the vehicle code.
    BTW, some have characterized those who stride boldly into traffic as “taking their life in their hands.” Wrong; they are putting their life in the motorist’s hands. Good luck with that. You’ll need it.

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  • The Sharkey

    …you cannot rely on people stopping because you did, because people do stop for a wide variety of reasons.

    While you make some good points, this is some of what I’m talking about when I say that Berkeley drivers are just plain awful.

  • The Sharkey

    I drive, and I blame drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians alike.

    Too many Berkeleyans are glued to their smart phones, lacking in common courtesy, or just completely oblivious to what’s going on around them.

  • SuperGuest

    Yup, the phones are smart; the operators, not so much.

  • Guest

     If the driver had to slam on their brakes they were probably going to fast, or maybe they wrongly assumed that the pedestrian would yield. Slow down.