$15,000 reward offered after pedestrian hit-and-run death

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A new sign near the east end of the University Avenue overpass, alerting pedestrians that access is prohibited, directs non-drivers to a nearby pedestrian bridge. Photo: Lance Knobel

The city of Berkeley is offering a $15,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the driver responsible for a hit-and-run accident that killed a 46-year-old man last week, officials said Monday in a prepared statement.

The accident took place July 15 at 5:10 a.m. on the University Avenue overpass, which pedestrians and cyclists are prohibited from using

Police identified the victim as John Patrick Miller of Berkeley. A woman who identified herself as Miller’s relative wrote on Berkeleyside that he was familiar with the area and “would never travel up that ramp” because “he was extremely afraid and aware of the safety issues” after being struck by a car as a child. She wrote that she was concerned that “something drove Patrick over the ramp,” and continued: “If anyone out there has a clue please post it because some of us in his family really miss him and must get to the bottom of the situation.”

A police officer had initially found Miller down in the roadway when the officer was driving across the overpass. The Berkeley Fire Department responded to the scene for medical care, but Miller ultimately was pronounced dead. The police investigation indicates that Miller was struck and killed by a vehicle.

According to the Daily Cal, there have been no known collisions involving pedestrians near the overpass since 2007.

The Police Department asks anyone with information about this fatal collision to call the Traffic Bureau at 510-981-5980, or the department’s non-emergency number at 510-981-5900. Anonymous callers can instead reach out to Bay Area Crime Stoppers at 800-222-TIPS (8477).

Sign added near site of fatal Berkeley hit-and-run (07.17.13)
Berkeley hit-and-run raises concerns for safety (07.15.13)
Hit-and-run kills pedestrian on Berkeley overpass (07.15.13)

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  • guest

    Do the red light cameras at Univ & 6th still function? Maybe they would show something useful, or the gas station security cameras. Late night traffic signal functions can be very strange, with short segments, and quick changes, due to the odd programming, and light nighttime traffic. One particularly dangerous combination is the quick change, which can trap a pedestrian or cyclist in the intersection — they start crossing with no traffic present on green, and then a car appears, triggers a sensor, and gets a green in a very short time – 3 seconds or less, trapping the slow crosser.

  • Iceland_1622

    How to say this tactfully. That sign is not much of a clear deterrent. A more comprehensive approach with paint stripes on the concrete will be much more powerful and effective. Still, people in cars, on foot or bicycles are going to be just that, people, and as such, do all sorts of wild things and do such daily. That sign also marks a specific crime scene by chance and circumstance that goes back a few decades. I”ll just say that the subhuman monster & perpetrator was eventually destroyed, but not until wreaking more mayhem and havoc. So to be as safe as possible here, and it’s *not* possible in an urban big city environment, simply do not hitchhike there either.

  • Vladislav_Davidzon

    I don’t get it. Why doesn’t the DOT reconfigure that road to include world-class biking and pedestrian facilities? There is no logical reason why the road needs to be two-lanes wide going west-bound when the on-ramp is only a single lane. As much as I appreciate the pedestrian bridge several blocks south, why require pedestrians to take a multi-block detour when we can easily allow them access over the bridge?

  • TN

    The pedestrian/bicycle bridge was the product of about a decade of discussion in Berkeley. Would you expect otherwise? Many opinions were aired. There was an especially vociferous group of people, who felt that from a bicyclists’ civil rights point of view that the correct choice was to simply allow bicyclists to ride on the overpass and add a sidewalk.

    Other people pointed out that this was not particularly a pedestrian friendly proposal since many pedestrians did not want to cross either two freeway off ramps on the south side or two highway on ramps on the north side. And it was not clear that disabled people could be accommodated as required by law.

    Another complicating factor was that CALTRANS has some jurisdiction over the matter. Money was another issue.

    When money became available, the choice was to build a completely separate bridge that is very safe indeed.

  • Charles_Siegel

    “There was an especially vociferous group of people, who felt that from a
    bicyclists’ civil rights point of view that the correct choice was to
    simply allow bicyclists to ride on the overpass and add a sidewalk.”

    At the time, I was very active in Bicycle Friendly Berkeley Coalition, and I don’t remember that at all. There are usually a few very vociferous bicyclists who think that bikes should be treated like cars, and the great majority of bicyclists are usually annoyed by this vocal minority. But I don’t remember the minority being around at that point – though maybe I just missed them.

  • testit

    Perhaps the BPD can search the metadata for all of the phones that connected with nearby cell phone towers near the time of the accident. Perhaps the victim had a cell phone where similar data is available and more precise information could be gleaned about his recent locations and phone calls/emails/text messages/etc. Add that to the cameras, recent gasoline purchases (may as well check all the cars that are know to be driving around that time for evidence of a collision and simply question the drivers).
    I don’t see why an ordinary old court couldn’t get a warrant to search through the metadata obtained under a warrant from the FISA courts. Not that I am in favor of the FISA-enabled infringement of our fundamental right to privacy but we know the data exists and it is relevant to a criminal case so why not get a warrant to use it?

  • Doug F

    The traffic on those 4 freeway ramps is really heavy at most hours. There’s no way to make crossing that traffic safe for pedestrians or cyclists w/o making the traffic back up even worse. And it’s often backed up from the light at 6th to San Pablo Ave as it is.

  • guest

    “The accident took place…”

    Why do you term this an “accident”, when you do not know what happened and especially when the victim’s relative’s comment expresses a concern that something much more sinister took place?

  • jth

    As somebody who actually uses a bike as my primary means of getting around the East Bay, I’m happy to be as far away from cars as humanly possible, thank you. Couldn’t be more pleased with the current setup. Jostling with a bunch of overcaffeinated commuters on the 580 overpass sounds like my idea of hell, bike lane or not.

  • guest

    When Jason gets going he can seem like a group.

  • diana

    I knew to patrick. he was a homeless man, according to his words he was abandoned by his family at the hospital ,He knew perfectly berkeley. is impossible to walk down the avenue knowing the risk. he was losing his sight for someone threw liquid in the eye now of nowhere come the family saying that they did not know he was on the street that is a lie. I can not believe that a daughter will not go at least once in their life to see his father, I really think someone killed him I do not think that was an accident.

  • Charles_Siegel

    Jason was all for the bike bridge. And he was always for separate bike facilities, unlike the minority who think bikes should be treated like cars.

  • guest

    There also is this:

    By rushing to put up a warning sign in the wake of this incident, COB leaves itself wide open to a wrongful death claim.