GRANDMOTHER DIES OF INJURIES VICTIM WAS HIT WALKING GRANDSON HOME.
GLENDALE - A Glendale woman died Friday afternoon of injuries suffered Thursday when a car hit her as she crossed Wilson Avenue with her grandson, police said.
Alberta Ferraz, 73, succumbed to head and other injuries, while her 8-year-old grandson, Jerome Rizalado, remained hospitalized for observation Friday.
Ferraz apparently was walking the boy home from Mann Elementary School - where he is a third-grader - when they were hit by a Buick Riviera turning left onto Wilson from the southbound lane of Chevy Chase Drive.
``It just broke my heart to look out there and see the books from (Jerome's) backpack just laying on the street,'' said Barbara Mikolasko, principal of Marshall Elementary School, which is near the scene of the crash.
The driver, Oksen Shirinian, 39, of Los Angeles told police the sun was in his eyes as he was making the turn about 4 p.m., said Glendale traffic Sgt. Louie Guay.
Shirinian has not been charged in the crash.
``This is an ongoing investigation and the case will be presented to the district attorney for consideration,'' Guay said.
The Ferraz family could not be reached for comment, but Mann school officials who knew Ferraz from her routine of dropping off and picking up Rizalado expressed sorrow.
``We feel really bad because Jerome's grandma was very, very special to him and took care of him a lot - we saw her often,'' said Mann secretary Joy Pruett.
Glendale averages about six pedestrian fatalities per year, according to police records. In 2002, three pedestrian traffic fatalities occurred.
Thursday's was the first pedestrian fatality of 2003.
In 1999, Glendale had the highest rate of casualties for pedestrians over the age of 65 in cities with similar populations in California. In 2000, Glendale ranked third, according to the California Office of Traffic Safety.
Glendale police say the high numbers of older people hit by cars is likely a result of a large senior community that likes to walk.
Although Glendale has had trouble in the past with high rates of pedestrian traffic casualties, the busy intersection at Wilson and Chevy Chase is not known to be particularly dangerous, according to witnesses and city officials.
Traffic and Transportation Administrator Jano Baghdanian said incidents at signalized intersections like Chevy Chase and Wilson are most often caused by driver or pedestrian error, and are only avoidable by strict law enforcement.
``That is a signalized intersection - (Thursday's) accident was due to driver distraction,'' Baghdanian said. ``We focus our safety efforts on unsignalized intersections with heavy foot traffic.''
Glendale police have handed out more than 5,000 fliers to pedestrians in the downtown Brand Boulevard corridor and aggressively ticket jaywalkers, Guay said.
``We take the enforcement of pedestrian violations very seriously, and it's funny because people get really incensed when we give them those tickets, but we're trying to save their lives,'' Guay said.
The city is working to make dangerous crossings throughout the city safer for pedestrians, including installing $750,000 in-roadway warning light systems at uncontrolled, heavily used crosswalks.
The flashing lights - embedded into the concrete at the crosswalk - flash whenever a pedestrian enters the roadway. There are already 14 throughout the city and 16 more are on the way, funded largely by state grants, Baghdanian said.
``Based on our surveys, the flashing warning lights work very well to alert drivers of pedestrians in the crosswalks,'' Baghdanian said.
Other efforts to curb pedestrian casualties on Glendale roadways include sting operations run by the Police Department in which plain-clothes cops pose as pedestrians in crosswalks to see whether drivers are following right-of-way laws.