EXCLUSIVE: Deadly car accidents lead to questions at Oakland Estuary

Friday, December 15, 2017 11:47PM
An East Bay mother called the ABC7 News I-Team about a horrible crash that killed her son this year. The I-Team did some research. Dan Noyes then took her story to Oakland City Hall, and one council member jumped on the issue.


OAKLAND, Calif. - An East Bay mother called the ABC7 News I-Team about a horrible crash that killed her son this year. The I-Team did some research. Dan Noyes then took her story to Oakland City Hall, and one council member jumped on the issue.

Sandra Martin and her younger boy are preparing for their first Christmas without her son, Robert. "Always laughing and making everybody else laugh. Just a good, good kid," Sandra said.

The 23-year-old drowned in February after his car tumbled into the Oakland Estuary along Doolittle Drive near the airport.

Dan Noyes: "Can you explain to me what went through your mind when you heard those words that your son had passed?"
Sandra Martin: "I got numb, I just actually, I just fell to the ground right there in my dining room area and I was here by myself."

Sandra is not sure why Robert veered off the road that rainy morning on his way to work as a dental assistant. She believes a tire may have blown. But, take a look at this -- Doolittle Drive has guard rails for a stretch, but where Robert died -- nothing. The water comes right up to the road, leaving little margin for error.

"All I know is that if there's no barriers put up that it's going to continue. I know that the winter's coming, the rain is gonna be coming and there is definitely going to be more cars going in that water," Martin added.

Martin's son was not the first or the last to die this year after driving into the estuary.

An Alameda resident died just three weeks ago after driving his minivan into a different part of the estuary.

RELATED: Driver dies after van plunges into Oakland Estuary

And from years past, our video archives show case after case of cars going into the estuary -- more deaths, and dramatic rescues.

"We start pulling kids out, and parents out, and they couldn't swim so we had to help them ashore," said Eric Schorken after a water rescue at Oakland Estuary in 2013.

The I-Team's Dan Noyes took his research to Oakland City Council President Larry Reid.

"Thanks to you, we are inquiring about how do we fix a problem to make sure that no one loses a life or that they stand a better chance of surviving an accident along the corridor," said Oakland City Council President Larry Reid.

The first step after the I-Team called, Reid had to determine who controls the property. It's Port of Oakland land, and East Bay Regional Parks oversees it. But, turns out it's CalTrans responsibility because Doolittle Drive is also State Route 61.

Reid contacted CalTrans District 4 Director Bijan Sartipi.

"And so now he's looking into the issue and working with Assemblyman Rob Bonta," said Reid. "I'm sure that we will get guard rails along that corridor to make sure that we minimize the loss of any future life along this stretch."

CalTrans tells the I-Team they are working on a solution for the area.
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