Pedestrian seriously hurt in Santa Rosa hit-and-run; driver arrested
Published: Sunday, November 4, 2012 at 9:18 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, November 5, 2012 at 7:41 a.m.
A man hit by a car while walking across Guerneville Road early Sunday suffered life-threatening injuries, the victim of a hit-and-run driver, reported Santa Rosa police Sunday.
Sunday's victim, Robert Brian Mckee, 49, of Redwood Valley, is the third pedestrian in three weeks to be hit by a car in Santa Rosa and suffer fatal or near-fatal injuries.
Two pedestrians died in October after being struck while walking in crosswalks.
Mckee on Sunday evening remained in intensive care at Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital. His injuries, which included a broken spine, legs and head trauma, remained life-threatening, Sgt. Rich Celli said.
Officers arrested a suspect within 15 minutes of the 12:20 a.m. crash.
The driver was stopped just blocks from the scene in a vehicle with severe front end, windshield and hood damage.
Police believe suspect driver Christian Pena Ballesteros, 30, of Santa Rosa was drunk at the time of the crash, Celli said.
Sunday's collision was reported by a 911 caller who only heard the crash, the traffic sergeant said.
Arriving officers got to the intersection of Guerneville Road and Coffey Lane, a well lit intersection, and didn't immediately find the injured man, Celli said.
Mckee, who wore dark clothing, was found by firefighters. He'd been thrown up against a curb of Guerneville Road.
Officers fanned out to look for signs of a damaged vehicle. One officer stopped near Range Avenue to speak to a Santa Rosa city employee who was working.
The worker said he'd seen a damaged vehicle go by and gave a description, Celli said.
At 12:36 a.m., an officer found a silver Chevrolet Impala just a couple blocks away at Range Avenue and Steele Lane.
The car had major grill, front-end, windshield and hood damage, Celli said.
The driver failed a sobriety test, and officers arrested Ballesteros on suspicion of drunken driving, felony hit-and-run, and violating his probation from a prior drunken driving conviction, Celli said.
Traffic investigators aren't yet sure who was at fault.
The initial investigation showed the car was eastbound on Guerneville Road. Police believe Mckee was crossing Guerneville in the crosswalk, Celli said.
Celli said investigators were trying to determine who had the green light and whether drugs or alcohol were a factor for the driver and the pedestrian.
Ballesteros remained in custody Sunday. He was being held without bail on an immigration hold, according to jail records.
The two fatal collisions occurred on Oct. 15 and 20.
Joseph Von Merta, 57, was hit by a car while crossing Mendocino Avenue at College Avenue. He died the next day.
On the night of Oct. 20, Alejandro Torres, 24, was hit while crossing Mission Boulevard. He died several hours later.
Both drivers told police they hadn't seen the men.
Since January 2011, 10 Santa Rosa pedestrians have been killed by cars. Six, including Von Merta, have been Santa Rosa-area homeless men, most of whom were intoxicated at the time.
Investigators are hoping for witnesses to the Guerneville Road collision. Celli asked anyone with information to call 543-3636.
You can reach Staff WriterRandi Rossmann at 521-5412 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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