Mesa police to meet on how to reduce traffic fatalities

Jim Walsh
The Arizona Republic
Jul. 1, 2006 12:00 AM

Mesa police commanders will meet next week to discuss strategies for reducing the city's growing list of traffic fatalities, including three this week and a record 64 deaths in 2005, a police spokesman said.

Mesa's new red light cameras are not yet working, although photo radar vans are in use.

The latest death was early Friday morning when a man was struck and killed by an unknown hit-and-run driver at about 3 a.m. on Broadway Road, between Horne and Stapley Drive.

"They just left him in the roadway to die," said Sgt. Chuck Trapani, a police spokesman.

"Any hit-and-run fatality is a callous case. If you know you killed somebody, or caused serious injury, it's your responsibility to render aid."

Police were called shortly before 3:30 a.m. by a woman who was driving by and saw the man's body. Police received conflicting information on the victim's name and date of birth from a man who identified himself as the victim's brother, and a woman who identified herself as his girlfriend.

Detectives said they hope to positively identify the victim, a Hispanic man in his 20s, through an autopsy today by the Maricopa County Medical Examiner's Office. Trapani said police have no leads and don't know why the victim was walking early in the morning.

Police are asking anyone who saw a car or truck of any type in that area to call (480) 644-2211.

With 2006 halfway over, Mesa has recorded 24 collisions causing 26 fatalities. The previous record before last year was 39.

Joshua William Rakestraw, 27, was killed at 9:27 p.m. Monday when his car failed to negotiate a turn on Gilbert Road, near Old Gilbert Road, and he was ejected.

Dustin M. Brown, also 27, of Queen Creek, was killed Wednesday when his motorcycle collided with a car that turned in front of him near Mesa Community College.