Gerald Louis, the San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) employee identified as the driver behind the wheel of the utility vehicle that struck and killed a woman and injured two young girls, may have had his view obstructed by a GPS device, according to a police report obtained by 10 News.
The San Diego Police Department (SDPD) has concluded its investigation into the Jan. 22 fatal car crash that resulted in the death of Ana Herrera Rodriguez and the hospitalization of her five-year-old daughter and four-year-old neighbor, listing several contributing factors in the 32-page traffic collision report forwarded to the City Attorney’s Office last month.
SDG&E released a statement on the report, pointing out that “contrary to previous incorrect media reports, the police department concluded there was no cell phone use by our employee while driving, he did not run a stop sign, and was not speeding. Our employee was driving between 15-20 miles per hour.”
The statement continued:
"The police report concluded that our employee may have been distracted by having sun in his eyes but the company and our employee dispute that. The report also concluded there was a GPS device mounted in a way that it might have been an obstruction to the driver’s vision. The police report listed other factors not associated with our employee.
"Regardless of the cause, this was a devastating accident, both for the family and friends of Mrs. Rodriguez and to SDG&E and our employee. This tragic accident has shaken our company to the core. Safety is at the foundation of who we are as a company. We will continue to focus on safety, using the recent incidents as opportunities for all of us to have conversations about vehicle safety both at home and at work."
The police report re-created the crash that occurred when Louis pulled out of an alley and onto the 3900 block of Cottonwood Street, noting that Rodriguez and the two young girls had been walking across the street in an unmarked crosswalk when Louis hit her.
The report stated that Louis did not see them and also indicated that he had a five-and-a-half inch wide GPS device mounted on the windshield below the rearview mirror — which is illegal placement in California.
Since the accident, SDPD has increased its efforts to help combat distracted driving, and conducted a distracted driver pedestrian enforcement detail in the downtown and Hillcrest areas of San Diego in March.
“The ultimate goal of this enforcement detail is to educate the citizens of San Diego about the dangers of distracted driving, distracted walking, and violating the rules of the road as defined in the California Vehicle Code,” according to the SDPD statement.