Pedestrians, vehicles clash at intersection near main entrance

Sarah Daly, Sarah Daly, and Sarah Daly

A City College student was the latest victim in a series of accidents at the intersection before the East Campus entrance.

At about 9:40 p.m. on March 9, Michael Mebratu walked out onto Cliff and Loma Alta drives; seconds later a car hit him.

“I looked and there was no cars coming,” Mebratu said. “All of a sudden I saw this car coming from my peripheral vision at a high speed.”

Mebratu, a Channels staff writer, was studying late at the Luria Library and was walking home alone when he stepped out in the crosswalk headed from East campus to West. A Jeep Grand Cherokee that was trying to turn right onto Cliff Drive struck him.

Campus Security arrived at the scene shortly after. Mebratu told the officers he wanted to call the police and they arrived shortly.

Erik Fricke, director of Campus Security at City College, said he thinks it’s common for students to speed around that area, but both pedestrians and drivers need to be more cautious.

“Students get frustrated trying to find parking,” Fricke said. “They speed around campus and take unnecessary risks.”

A handful of accidents have occurred around City College this semester alone.

On Feb. 23, an instructor reported a vehicle driving the wrong way in Parking Lot 2-B below the Life Fitness Center. The instructor said the car was going at a high speed and nearly hit a pedestrian.

There have also been numerous hit-and-run accidents.

In the past few weeks, four have been reported to Security by witnesses and owners. The incidents have involved cars scraping and hitting both the front and back bumpers of different cars.

Noel Rivas, a Santa Barbara Police traffic sergent, said he doesn’t think that the Cliff and Loma intersection is an unsafe area if people follow the rules of the road.

“Whenever somebody’s making a right turn its understood they have to make the yield there,” Rivas said.

Mebratu said he was scared the accident would affect his ability to play sports. He said the car hit him in the legs and he flew in the air and landed on his head and arm.

“I started thinking about would I walk again,” Mebratu said.

“I was laying there for awhile. I tried to stand up. I felt I was getting dizzy and that’s when I realized I had a concussion.”

Mebratu expressed concern that there is no crosswalk button on that right hand turn that hooks cars around onto Cliff Drive. He said it’s a hazardous area for young kids, especially since McKinley Elementary School is across the street from City College.

Fricke agreed.

The driver of the Jeep Grand Cherokee that hit the Mebratu declined comment.