92-Year-Old Woman Hit by Bicyclist Dies

Mary Jean Smith, the 92-year-old El Cerrito woman who was gravely injured when hit by a bicyclist late Wednesday afternoon on Arlington Boulevard, has died, authorities said.

An elderly El Cerrito woman who suffered extremely critical injuries when she was hit by a bicyclist while walking across Arlington Boulevard about 5:30 p.m. Wednesday died just before midnight Wednesday night, authorities said.

The Contra Costa County coroner's bureau identified her as Mary Jean Smith, 92, of El Cerrito.

She was crossing Arlington near Brewster Drive near Arlington Park, not in a crosswalk, and had nearly finished crossing the street when the bicyclist – a 57-year-old El Cerrito man – collided with her, according to El Cerrito police.

The cyclist, who was northbound downhill in the bicycle lane, spotted her from about 70 feet away and yelled at her several times, Police Chief Sylvia Moir said. Smith panicked and stopped, started going forward and the stopped again, Moir said.

She suffered severe head trauma and was taken by ambulance to Cerrito Vista Park and airlifted by medical helicopter from there to John Muir Medical Center in Walnut Creek, Moir said.

Smith, a resident of the area for more than 45 years, had been out for her regular late afternoon/early evening walk, according to a notice distributed today, Thursday, on the Arlington Neighbors email list.

"Jean was a lovely lady," the notice said. "Even though she was 92, she was sharp, witty, always smiling, gracious, and very fit."

Smith died about 11:40 p.m., the coroner's bureau said.

The police department is conducting an investigation into who was at fault in the accident, Moir said.

Moir said collisions between bicyclists and pedestrians have become a problem in El Cerrito and that the police department is preparing safety information and advice for release to the public in the near future.

"We've had several collisions of bicyclists and pedestrians," she said.

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Steve June 09, 2012 at 03:44 PM
Perhaps luck would have intervened if she had continued at a steady pace. People drop things, have a hat blow off, stop momentarily when they hear a noise or shout, slip, remember something and turn around. Driving/riding leaving the minimum margin for safety based on assuming perfection and good luck is not safe defensive driving. Pedestrians can't suddenly walk into oncoming traffic. She didn't. There are lots of vehicle code sections relating to pedestrians and crosswalks. One of them is 21950 (c) which is pretty darn clear: The driver of a vehicle approaching a pedestrian within any marked or unmarked crosswalk shall exercise all due care and shall reduce the speed of the vehicle or take any other action relating to the operation of the vehicle as necessary to safeguard the safety of the pedestrian. And even though pedestrians crossing not in a crosswalk must yield to vehicles "so near as to constitute an immediate hazard" 21954 (b) continues "The provisions of this section shall not relieve the driver of a vehicle from the duty to exercise due care for the safety of any pedestrian upon a roadway."
Chris Fullmer June 09, 2012 at 08:59 PM
One thought here though, this was 5:30pm in June, which means the sun was still shining. Sunset was just before 8:30 on that day. So this was about 3 hours before sunset. I know in the hills the sun can "set" behind trees, hills, and homes early. But 5:30 is not accurately characterized as "late at night" at this time of the year.
skell June 10, 2012 at 03:55 AM
What a tragic story. My condolensces to the family of ms. Smith and all those involved. I am a pedestrian who uses the path at that crosswalk to go to the park. I would love to see speed bumps, a flashing crosswalk, or better yet a flashing light like the one by the kensington library. Do you know if anyone has started a petition of any sort or how to get on the Arlington neighborhood email list?
Debi Bernabe June 13, 2012 at 02:14 PM
Our deepest condolences to Jim & Family at this difficult time. Unfortunately unforeseen occurrences happen but for now rather than have a debate of who is in the right or wrong we should allow the family to grieve in peace. Love, Debi, Ramil and Sunny
vicki June 14, 2012 at 08:23 PM
If a woman had been hit by a car, would this news be "big"? Probably not. Being killed by a cyclist is more uncommon & sensational than “just” being hit by a car. It doesn’t help that another elderly pedestrian was recently killed by a cyclist in SF. But there is a big difference between the two incidents. The SF victim was in a crosswalk. That cyclist was blowing thru stop signs & lights to gain speed downhill & tried to make a yellow light thru a busy intersection. The El Cerrito incident involves a blind curve & a pedestrian on her regular stroll crossing out of the crosswalk, a guy on his bicycle commute home & not thrill riding down the steep streets of SF. As I drive Arlington daily, I'm often tail gated & glared at when driving 25 mph. When I bike Arlington, I do enjoy the downhill reward I gain after cresting a hill (but always have my hands on the brakes for fear of pot holes or unaware cars). I "jay walk" in along my steep street because I can't see the cars speeding downhill if I use the cross walk at the bottom of it's blind curve. The negligent SF cyclist is being charged with felony vehicle manslaughter. The EC cyclist shouldn’t be damned for an accident that could have easily involved me or you being taken by surprise while behind 4 or 2 wheels. Instead of blame, honor Jean Smith by making a real effort to slow down & take greater precaution when driving, riding or crossing the streets in hopes of preventing yet another tragic accident.


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