Pedestrians being hit on freeways becoming more common in Fresno County, CHP says

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- A growing trend along our local freeways: pedestrians being hit and killed by drivers.

That included two people who were killed along Highway 99 last weekend.

The California Highway Patrol saying these deadly crashes involving pedestrians have become more common in recent years.

Last Saturday around 1:30 a.m., the CHP said 31-year-old Jeanette Ward ran across the northbound lanes of Highway 99, just south of Clinton Avenue.

She was hit and killed by a driver.

On Sunday around 12:30 a.m., less than a mile away from Saturday's crash, officials said 28-year-old Ramon Lujan walked into traffic on Highway 99 near the Belmont off-ramp.

He was also hit and killed.

CHP officials said pedestrian calls in general have become more common, especially fatal collisions involving pedestrians.

The CHP says many of the collisions they have in the interchange area of Fresno are related to our local homeless population.

"There's a high concentration in that area and you know, they cross the freeway on a regular basis unfortunately," said California Highway Patrol Sergeant Joseph Bianchi.

So far this year, the California Highway Patrol has investigated 50 deadly crashes in Fresno County.

Of those, seven involved pedestrians.

"It is a little bit frustrating because we're unable to keep them off the freeway, you know, they cross at will pretty much," Sgt. Bianchi said.

Mayor Jerry Dyer started Project Off-Ramp earlier this year with the goal of cleaning up homeless encampments, including those along Fresno's freeways.

He said last month, the city did an operation along Highway 99 cleaning up encampments and housing 105 people who were experiencing homelessness.

"Both pedestrian deaths that occurred on the freeway this weekend were not associated with an encampment on the freeway," said Dyer.

City officials said their records show outreach workers contacted Lujan, the man who was killed Sunday morning, in March of this year.

He refused services and told workers he was going to move back in with his family.

Mayor Dyer says Project Off-Ramp is still ongoing.

This month, another 130 rooms will become available in motels the city has acquired.

Relocation efforts will be focused around schools, parks and in neighborhoods.

"We're going to take that step by step, neighborhood by neighborhood throughout the city of Fresno, but it will take time." Dyer said.
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