H-SANTA MARIA

Jul 17, 2013 6:47 PM by April Hansen, KSBY News

Recent fatal traffic accidents have DA and city police joining forces

The Santa Barbara County District Attorney's Office and the Santa Maria Police Department are teaming up to raise awareness about staying safe on the roads after several deadly traffic incidents in Santa Maria.

Deputy District Attorney Jennifer Karapetian says there have been many fatal traffic collisions, hit and runs, and DUI crashes.

She says they are organizing a walk to remind people how preventable these accidents are.

The first crash was back in February when 35-year-old Frank Diaz, Jr. was killed in a hit and run on Blosser Road while walking his dog, Billy.

In June, Jade Dodson was killed after police say a car ran a red light and only a few weeks later, Leticia Hernandez was killed while walking in an unmarked crosswalk on Miller Street.

"We need to continue to remind people that cars are deadly weapons," said Deputy District Attorney Jennifer Karapetian.

She says there have been an unusually high number of traffic related accidents in the community this year.

"I think a lot of people take for granted the dangerousness that comes with driving a car," said Karapetian.

So, the District Attorney's Office has teamed up with city police to host a walk to raise awareness for victims of traffic crimes

"We fail to recognize that a car can be a deadly weapon and so dangerous," said Karapetian.

She said they decided to have the event when school starts when there are more young drivers on the road.

"Having it close to the beginning of the school year will help put kids in the community on notice and raise their awareness," said Karapetian.

And, prevent more of these types of crashes.

"Putting phones away, not speeding, driving more carefully, and paying attention to the road. These accidents can be preventable," said Karapetian.

Karapetian says they have not decided on a name for the event yet, but it will be held at Preisker Park in Santa Maria on September 10th.

Jade Dodson's 19-year-old cousin, Robert Carag, was the driver of the car she was in.
He was taken to a local hospital and was in critical condition.

The driver who hit Leticia Hernandez was not taken into custody and Santa Maria Police are still investigating the accident.

19-year-old Cristian Carbajal has been charged with vehicular manslaughter in connection with Jade Dodson's death and the driver who hit Frank Diaz, Jr. was given five years of probation and a year in county jail.

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