SANTA ANA – A volunteer several times a week at St. Joseph Church and St. Joseph School, 71-year-old Charlene Hanson was well aware of speeding and other traffic hazards at Civic Center Drive and Lacy Street, the intersection separating the institutions.
“A lot of times with the traffic there, she was always telling people, ‘Use the crosswalk, use the crosswalk,’” her best friend Connie Linnert, 61, said Monday, June 19.
Hanson was leaving mass at the church, where she served as a Eucharistic Minister, on Saturday evening when she was hit by a truck traveling south on Lacy Street and turning left on Civic Center Drive as she crossed the latter heading north. Hours later, she died from her injuries, according to the Orange County coroner’s office.
On Monday afternoon, a bouquet of flowers lay at the foot of a neon school-crossing sign at the southeast corner of the intersection, with the yellow striped crosswalk that Hanson used before she was hit.
“If there was a (pedestrian crossing) button, maybe it would calm down a bit, but drivers don’t respect the crosswalk. They pass very fast here,” Rafael Naba, a crossing guard who recently started working the intersection on weekday mornings and afternoons, said in Spanish.
The Santa Ana Police Department said the investigation is ongoing but it appears that the driver at fault failed to yield and could face charges of vehicular manslaughter and driving without a license, according to Cpl. Anthony Bertagna. The driver is a 37-year-old man from Santa Ana, he said, but his name has not been released. Neither speed nor alcohol appear to be factors in the crash.
Hanson’s death has stirred not only grief from the community that knew her for a lifetime of dedication and philanthropy, but cries for new safety measures at the intersection.
St. Joseph School Principal Brad Snyder said drivers often exceed the 25 mph speed limit in that area of Civic Center Drive, a thoroughfare to Civic Center Plaza, and…