Santa Rosa man struck while walking dogs recovering after surgery
Published: Sunday, May 26, 2013 at 3:35 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, May 27, 2013 at 2:50 p.m.
Santa Rosa nurse Mario Molinari, 52, was three miles into his daily walk with his two dogs when he made a decision.
The light at Fountaingrove Parkway and Rincon Ridge Drive had just turned green, but he hadn't had time to hit the crosswalk button. Should he run or wait?
It was a moment of decision most people have faced while walking up to a green light.
"It had just turned green, so I went," Molinari said.
He nearly made it across the road before he was hit by an oncoming driver last week. The driver fled the scene and was later apprehended.
After surgery for facial lacerations and treatment for knee injuries, Molinari is recovering at home.
"I'm glad I'm alive, and it teaches me to be more careful," Molinari said.
Molinari was struck by driver Reyna Gutierrez, 42, of Healdsburg, who police said fled the scene and was later arrested on suspicion of hit-and-run causing injury.
Gutierrez, who is scheduled to be arraigned Tuesday in Sonoma County Superior Court, is free on $20,000 bail.
In an attempt to prevent such accidents, Santa Rosa police will conduct a two-week enforcement operation in June targeting pedestrians who violate traffic laws and motorists who put walkers at risk.
"We're seeing issues at crosswalks and signal lights, people crossing against red hands. It's kind of like the bicycle-car thing, we must share the road," Sgt. Mike Numainville said.
Officers will write citations but they'll also be handing out fliers about traffic laws and talking with people about how to follow the laws.
"You don't automatically have the right-of-way in every situation just if you step into a crosswalk," Numainville said.
The light had turned yellow and then red last Tuesday as Molinari crossed Fountaingrove Parkway, one of his frequent routes on daily walks of five to seven miles.
Molinari's two boxers, Lexi and Kira, were also injured in the collision. Kira suffered cuts and bruises, while Lexi's pelvis was fractured. The 2-year-old dog underwent surgery Thursday.
Caroline Everett, hospital administrator with PetCare East Veterinary Hospital on Mendocino Avenue, said the recovery could take at least three months.
The experience was enlightening for Molinari, who preps patients for surgery and helps them with recovery afterward at Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in Santa Rosa.
"I now understand a little better what a patient goes through," Molinari said.
You can reach Staff Writer Julie Johnson at 521-5220 or julie. firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @jjpressdem.