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Legal action taken over Atwater crosswalk

ATWATER — One of the city's deadlier crosswalks was recently retrofitted for safety, but that isn't stopping the husband of one victim, who was killed crossing the street at the intersection, from moving forward with legal action.

A claim was filed against the city in May by Genovevo Gonzales, the victim's husband, and his Sacramento-based attorney, Roger Dreyer.

The crosswalk at the intersection of Bellevue Road and Linden Street obscures pedestrians from the view of drivers because of unsafe design and management, according to the claim. It goes on to charge that the traffic signal timers don’t provide enough time for pedestrians to cross the street.

With the claim against the city, Gonzales, 79, hopes to prevent future tragedies. "There have been already four or five accidents in that same area, and I think there have been two or three of them killed," he said. "I want better repairs to where it's safe to cross."

The legal action against the city is still in the initial stages, and Gonzales said he isn't yet sure how much money he's going after. However, the claim lists the action as an unlimited civil case, meaning it'll be more than $10,000.

Gonzales' wife, Delia, was killed Dec. 16 when she tried crossing Bellevue Road while walking down Linden Street and was struck by a 2007 Chevrolet Silverado, according to the complaint.

The driver of the Silverado wasn't under the influence of any substances, and the death appeared to be accidental, authorities said after the accident.

Despite the time that's passed since his wife's death, Gonzales avoids crossing that intersection. "I haven't even crossed that street yet," he said. "I'm afraid to cross it myself."

There is a push in Atwater to improve pedestrian safety throughout the city, said Councilman Jeff Rivero.

Though lighted crosswalks can't be installed at a signal-controlled intersection, they've been added in several locations throughout the city.The crosswalk improvements work with LED lights that illuminate the crossing signs and the crosswalk itself with the push of a button so drivers can better see if someone’s in the street. They cost about $12,000 each.

"The city has tried to make the streets as safe as possible," Rivero said, adding that the LED crosswalks and flashing speed signs outside of schools are helping accomplish that goal.

City officials declined to go into detail about the claim, but did say work was finished May 4 to improve the light’s timing to allow pedestrians to cross more safely.

Dreyer couldn’t be reached for comment.

Reporter Mike North can be reached at (209) 385-2453 or