Elderly man killed by hit-and-run driver
Photo by Robbi Pengelly
Police arrested a suspected hit-and-run driver Wednesday after a 93-year-old man was struck by a car while crossing the Fifth Street West crosswalk on a three-wheeled electric mobility device in front of Safeway. The victim, Alvin Hesse of Sonoma, was transported to Queen of the Valley hospital in Napa, where he later died due to his injuries.
The suspect, 80-year-old Joe Kwai of Boyes Hot Springs was pulled over while traveling eastbound on Napa Road near Burndale Road after police noticed front-end damage consistent with the accident scene on his PT Cruiser. When questioned by Sonoma Chief of Police Bret Sackett, Kwai, whose license was recently suspended for a failure to appear at the DMV for a mandatory reexamination, denied being in an accident at first, but later recalled running something over, which he assumed to be “debris,” at the crosswalk on Fifth Street West. He was booked into county jail for vehicular manslaughter, felony hit-and-run, and driving on a suspended license.
According to witnesses, a car struck the Hesse in the marked crosswalk just before 4 p.m. Wednesday. The crosswalk, which has been the site of fatal accidents in the past, is equipped with yellow ground flashers, flashing signs and an audible warning, but has no additional traffic control measures on Fifth Street West. Witnesses indicated that the flashers and warning sounds had been functioning and were activated when Hesse was hit.
The police department asks that anyone with additional information on the accident contact Deputy Eric Haufler at 996-3602.