Art student Nina Fitzpatrick, 22, died Tuesday, April 8, at Mission Viejo’s Mission Hospital as a result of being struck by a car as she crossed Laguna Canyon Road last week, a school official confirmed today.
Students and staff of Laguna College of Art and Design will honor her with a vigil from 8:30 to 9:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 10, at 2222 Laguna Canyon Road, site of the marked crosswalk where the accident occurred.
Participants will line the side of the campus facing the road to remember the fine art major. As live candles and flashlights will not be permitted, participants are asked to download an app of a burning candle or to bring battery operated “candles,” said a statement from a school spokeswoman.
Police said an in-bound driver, an 83-year-old Minnesota woman, was not arrested or cited at the scene. Alcohol does not appear to be a factor in the crash and but preliminary information suggests the driver failed to see the student, Capt. Jason Kravetz said
The investigation is continuing and once completed will be submitted to the district attorney’s office for consideration of appropriate charges, Sgt. Louise Callus said.
The college’s president, Jonathan Burke, raised an alarm last March, saying motorists who travel inbound on Laguna Canyon Road, often ignoring the posted 45 mph speed limit, present an escalating threat to pedestrians near the college’s main campus.
While a pedestrian crosswalk and warning signs about the crosswalk have been installed near the main campus and a bus stop, the college’s president and its trustees have argued for improved safety measures, which potentially could impact traffic along the heavily used artery and state highway.
Statistics show Burke’s concerns have merit. Of the 45 traffic collisions reported in the 2000 block of Laguna Canyon Road between March 2013 and 2008, 33 took place at 2222 Laguna Canyon Rd, the college’s address, according to statistics compiled by Laguna Beach police.
After studying the roadway, Caltrans apparently also agreed that the crossing justified installation of a more robust signal known as a high intensity activated crosswalk, where a pedestrian activates a red traffic light signaling motorists to halt, according to Steve May, the city’s public works director, who received word about Caltrans’ decision last July.
Jose Hernandez, Caltrans branch chief of traffic operations south, told May he would seek funding for such a signal, which should cost less than the $300,000 of a traditional signal.
At the vigil, Burke will also announce that the grassy knoll on the college’s main campus will be renamed, Nina’s Park.