A community is grieving the loss of an elderly Madera man who was killed as he was walking just blocks from his home. "It's very sad and I just hope he's in a lot more comfortable place because he was very lonely the last few years since his wife passed on," said Debra Chu-Yep, a close friend of the victim.
79-year-old Joe Chan was walking on the eastbound lane of Adell carrying grocery bags when he was struck by a pick-up truck and killed on impact. Those who knew him for more than 30 years describe Chan as a quiet but friendly person. "Whenever we would close our super market at night, he would walk us home and tell us stories about the moon and all different fairy tales," said Chu-Yep.
Neighbors say they were worried about Chan because he walked everywhere and refused to get in cars. "I always tried to keep an eye on him," said neighbor Gregorio Vargas. "He was scared of cars and he told me, 'I prefer to walk.' He walked everywhere, he walked to the hospital, to the store," said Vargas.
Vargas saw Chan as a father figure who he worked with at the local meat market before he retired. "He loved my kids. He came over once in a while to bring them gifts," Vargas said.
Those close to Chan say it's ironic he died by the thing he feared the most. "I saw him last week and it was raining. I was closing up shop and I was going to offer him a ride home but he didn't hear me but he didn't like to get into cars. He didn't want to be in an accident," said Chu-Yep.
Investigators believe Chan was walking on the road because there was no sidewalk and he was trying to avoid the mud. Residents say the tragedy could have been avoided. "They need to build some sidewalks or something. The kids walk on that road - not only for him but for the kids' safety," said Vargas.
People say they will miss Chan who would always be walking with his cane and a shopping cart in the area.
Investigators say the pick-up driver stopped at the scene and is cooperating with authorities. CHP officials don't believe speed or alcohol were a factor in the crash.