Police on Tuesday evening were looking for the hit-and-run driver of a vehicle that struck and killed a Modesto woman as she walked across Yosemite Boulevard in east Modesto.
The woman's death is the 13th fatality this year in Stanislaus County in which a pedestrian or bicyclist has been struck by a vehicle.
Lorna Jean Holbrook, 59, was pronounced dead at the scene, said Sgt. Rick Armendariz, a Modesto police spokesman.
The incident occurred shortly after 10:30 p.m. Monday as Holbrook was crossing Yosemite, heading north about 600 yards east of Riverside Drive. Armendariz said the vehicle, which was heading west, struck her and then drove away in the same direction.
Police said the vehicle is believed to be large and dark, possibly a pickup, and might have front-end damage. Investigators did not have a description of the driver.
Armendariz said that area of Yosemite is not well-lit, and Holbrook was not walking in a crosswalk. He said the preliminary investigation indicates that the driver might not have been at fault.
"(The driver) just made a bad situation worse by fleeing the scene," Armendariz said. "It's not a wise decision."
The driver now faces a felony charge of hit-and-run.
There are many reasons drivers flee a crash scene, Armendariz said, including:
• They could be driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
• They could be driving without vehicle insurance.
• They could be driving without a valid license.
• They could be a fugitive or driving a stolen vehicle.
• They simply could have panicked.
The department's Major Accident Investigations Team remained at the scene of Monday's crash into early Tuesday, searching for evidence.
Investigators had not determined how fast the vehicle was traveling, Armendariz said.
Officers interviewed some witnesses near the crash site, but investigators hope to talk to passing drivers who might have seen the suspect vehicle speeding away from the area.
While the incident occurred late at night, there's still some traffic on Yosemite at all hours. "It's not like it's an isolated country road," Armendariz said.
Modesto has had eight fatal vehicle crashes this year with speed and lack of attention by drivers as the common factors, Armendariz said.
In an attempt to crack down on one distraction, cell phones, law enforcement agencies launched a 48-hour zero tolerance campaign in Stanislaus County to deter texting and the use of cell phones without hands-free devices. It ends late tonight.
Police ask anyone with information about this incident to call Crime Stoppers at 521-4636. Tipsters can e-mail tips through the Crime Stoppers Web site, www.stancrimetips.org, or text tips to CRIMES (274637) by typing "Tip704" plus a message. Callers to Crime Stoppers can remain anonymous and are eligible for a reward.
Bee staff writer Rosalio Ahumada can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2394.