Local News

Apr 13, 2010 7:56 PM by Courtney Meznarich

Cal Poly mourns student killed crossing Highway 101

More details emerged at a memorial ceremony today about the moments leading up to the tragic death of a Cal Poly student on Easter Sunday.

Matthew Hurlbutt, 21, died after being hit by a truck while walking across Hwy. 101. CHP investigators suspect alcohol played a role.

Hurlbutt's close friends say he was a smart kid who made a tragic mistake, and now, they want to make sure this doesn't happen to someone else.

"I've had dozens of people tell me that they do it on a regular basis, coming home from downtown, and that it's a great shortcut," says Hurlbutt's close friend Lucas Rossmerz.

Hurlbutt was crossing Hwy. 101, just south of Santa Rosa street, when he was struck and killed by a truck. Friends suspect he was doing what they say many students do-- crossing the freeway to get home from downtown after a night of drinking.

Friend and co-worker Kelly Meehan talked to Hurlbutt moments before he was hit. "Don't spend your money on a taxi. I'm not drinking tonight, I'll be home," she told Hurlbutt. "So he called me at 12:28 a.m. to pick him up."

But the call was lost, and now friends have a message for other students. "Always have a way home or be with someone. Never be alone," said Meehan.

Dean of Students Jean DeCosta says the school requires students to learn about the dangers of drinking. "I don't think it's that they lack the knowledge. I just think that alcohol is one of those negatively influencing aspects," she said.

Rossmerz says he plans to turn his grief into something productive. He says one life is one too many. "If we can save one more by doing some type of positive baby step forward, or bringing it to the attention of the city then that's what we need to do."

"It's a tremendous loss for our community but we're hoping that students will take some important lessons from this," said DeCosta.

The CHP and San Luis Obispo Police Department say they haven't heard of students crossing the freeway to get home. They say most areas are fenced off.

Rossmerz says he plans to petition the city to make sober rides more accessible to students downtown.

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