East Avenue

A candlelight vigil was held for 26-year-old Yaneli Morales on August 5, one day after she was killed walking across East Avenue in Livermore.

After more than 1,430 people signed an online petition calling for better lighting and signs near a crosswalk where a Livermore woman was killed last month, the city is looking into adding pedestrian safety to a study and speeding results along.

Yaneli Morales died after she was hit by a car on Aug. 4 while crossing about 100 feet east of a crosswalk at East Avenue and Jensen Street. She was 26.

Dozens of Morales’s friends and family members packed into the Livermore City Council chambers on Aug. 26, many wearing white t-shirts emblazoned with her face. Several in the crowd stepped up to the dais and demanded stronger pedestrian safety.

Jessica Flores, who named her daughter after Morales, choked back tears as she told the council about the friend she lost.

“She was a beautiful soul,” Flores said. “Yaneli was very family oriented, and one of the strongest people I knew.”

The Livermore man who hit Morales wasn’t cited after the accident. Livermore Police Sgt. Steven Goard said the driver was not at fault. Morales apparently did not use the crosswalk, which has lights that flash when a button is pressed at either end.

Even so, Flores and others believe, the lights are inadequate for a large intersection in a high-traffic are. They point out it becomes more dangerous in the evening and after dark when it’s harder to see people crossing, especially for drivers on the tree-lined East Avenue.

Lights aren’t a solution, Flores said, they’re a start.

“This is something that I believe has to get done right away so no other families have to mourn the loss of a loved one just because the council chooses to very-well remodel the community center and build more houses, but can’t fix a couple of our streets,” Flores wrote in the petition she presented to the council.

The intersection’s proximity to a preschool and a middle school also raises concerns.

In the weeks after Morales’s death, Flores said, there have been at least two more accidents — a non-fatal collision with a student and another with an animal — both due to speeding drivers. She said she’s seen drivers cut off pedestrians at the intersection and cars that appeared to be going faster than the posted speed limit.

City Engineer Cheri R. Sheets said the council directed staff to consider expanding a bicycle study of East Avenue that’s already underway to include pedestrian safety. They’re also mulling an accelerated timeline for the research.

Flores said she feels obligated to keep fighting for change. She wants to see something positive come after her friend’s death.

“How many fatalities is it going to take for them to do something about this,” she said.

People can sign the petition online at tinyurl.com/yxhcy6lc.