Clayton neighbors incensed over tragic hit and run

Clayton neighbors incensed over tragic hit and run
Jason and Carrie Smith spoke to the Pioneer by Zoom Oct. 28, 2020, just four days after he and his dog Fred were hit by a car on Kelok Dr in Oakhurst.
Clayton neighbors incensed over tragic hit and run
Fred was killed by a hit and run driver oct. 25, 2020.

CLAYTON, CA—A Clayton man was seriously injured and his dog killed Oct 25 when the two were struck by a hit and run driver on Kelok Way in the Oakhurst development in Clayton.

Jason Smith and Fred, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, were crossing the street just a few feet from their home when the two were struck. Smith was thrown several feet, suffering a broken leg and multiple bruises and abrasions. Fred was killed instantly.

The neighborhood has long been a hot spot for teens who congregate in the cul-de-sac at the top of the hill to drink and party, often leaving piles of trash behind.

Michael Wagner, who lives a few doors away from the Smiths says complaints to the city and calls to the police fall on deaf ears.
“People have moved away because the problem is so bad,” Wagner said.

“This (accident) was long overdue, he said. “It’s hard to believe something like this didn’t happen sooner.”

Not safe

Lettie Hernandez who lives on Kelok Way adjacent to the cul-de-sac says her kids are afraid to pay basketball in front of their house. Her daughter, a freshman at Carondelet, says she and her brother “don’t feel safe.”

Hernandez recounts one night when she knocked on steamed up windows of one parked car, asking the passionate teens to move along.
“They just laughed at me,” she said.

I call the police and nothing happens,” she told the Pioneer. “I feel like I’m just wasting their time.”

It was video from Hernandez’ surveillance camera that caught a partial license plate on the vehicle fleeing the hit and run. The video aided police in identifying the driver, a 16-year-old who was arrested for felony hit and run the next day.

Ongoing issues

Elise Warren, Clayton’s police chief, says she and the city are aware of the ongoing issues with teens—and sometimes adults—parking to admire the view.

“It’s an attraction on a public roadway,” notes Warren.

“Officers will show up, and (the cars) are legally parked. So there is no reason to issue a citation,” she explained.

Frustrated neighbors have discussed possible solutions among themselves and with police.

Some suggest painting the entire curb in the cul-de-sac red or making the neighborhood a private gated community.
“It’s on our radar,” Warren said. “But it’s going to take some buy-in from the city council.”

Clayton mayor Julie Pierce has asked Warren to come to the council at the Nov. 17 meeting with a report and potential solutions.

A Zoom link to the Nov. 17 city council meeting will be posted on the city’s website by Fri. Nov. 13 and will be included in the agenda packet. There is a public comment period at the beginning of the meeting.