In the past week, two more victims have been killed by hit-and-run drivers – making this the deadliest year for such accidents since 2009.

Just after midnight on June 19, 32-year-old Sandro Garcia hit and killed a woman who was walking across Interstate 5 downtown. Garcia fled the scene, but called California Highway Patrol a short while later to report the collision. He was arrested at his home.

Two days later, the body of 27-year-old Amber Schei was discovered in the brush just off Nimitz Boulevard in Ocean Beach. She had apparently been skateboarding when she was struck and killed. San Diego Police are still looking for the hit-and-run driver.

Both fatalities fit one of the few discernible patterns to emerge from local hit-and-run accidents: Most occur on or near freeways (Schei’s body was found near an onramp to the I-8 and I-5 freeways).

In the past five years, 59 pedestrians and bicyclists have been killed countywide by drivers who fled the scene, according to numbers from the San Diego County Medical Examiner’s Office. Between 2009 and 2013, hit-and-run pedestrian fatalities ranged from five to 12 victims a year. Less than six full months into 2014, 13 pedestrians have been killed.

Those numbers also don’t take into account other kinds of victims of hit-and-run drivers, like those on motorcycles or in cars.

We Stand Up for You. Will You Stand Up for Us?

Data is a challenge when looking for trends in hit-and-runs. The California Highway Patrol, for example, keeps detailed traffic statistics, but does not release information more recent than 2012.

From the cases provided by the county Medical Examiner’s Office, however, we know that roughly 40 percent of the hit-and-runs since 2009 happened within the city of San Diego.

A larger challenge, however, is making use of any visible trends. Stats fluctuate with no identifiable patterns, said Mark McCullough from the San Diego Police Department’s Traffic Division.

“Stats are going to go up, and when they do go up, they make the news, and we go out and take a reactive stance. Then they go back down. We might have something to do with that, or we might not,” McCullough said.

    This article relates to: Hit and Runs, News, Share

    Written by Mario Koran

    Mario is an investigative reporter focused on immigration, border and related criminal justice issues. Reach him directly at 619.325.0531, or by email:

    William Sweeney
    William Sweeney subscriber

    Hmmmm. Crossing I-5 and skateboarding on Nimitz Hwy. Candidates for the Darwin awards.

    Phillip Franklin
    Phillip Franklin subscriber

    I believe the reason is directly related to so many drivers who routinely drive under the influence of alcohol and drugs.   It seems more and more drivers are driving under the influence yet the ability to arrest  these drivers has not been a priority of law enforcement.  Law enforcement only seems to come out during holiday weekends.  Sobriety checkpoints are frowned upon by the local restaurant & bar echelons who have such influence on the local chambers of commerce and political influence.  Drinking and driving has probably been on the rise because for the most part enforcement is lax.   People who are drunk will most likely flee the scene if they are able.   Responsible drivers who accidentally hit someone (especially by no fault on their part) have no reason to flee.  It doesn't take a genius to figure out this simple correlation to figure out why this figure is climbing.  BTW people who drive under the influence do not just do it on 3 day weekends and national holidays as law enforcement would suggest.  They do it all the time day or night.  This amounts to 13 murders on San Diego highways for six months.  

    Greg Martin
    Greg Martin subscriber

    This happens among a backdrop of a recent study which ranks San Diego near the bottom of the 30 largest U.S. metro areas in walkable urbanism (see page 11 for the table of rankings):

    Beyond the issue of hit-and-runs, San Diego is still too hostile to any street users that aren't in a motor vehicle.  Small improvements are being made, but much more needs to happen.