Santa Paula Times

Santa Paula Police Department and Fire Department clean up after the 10th Street accident. Photo by Brian D. Wilson

SPPD: Bizarre accident leads to damages on both sides of 10th Street

December 10, 2004
Santa Paula Police Department
By Peggy Kelly Santa Paula TimesA bizarre incident on Tuesday left one man with slight injuries after his friend accidently drove over him in a parking lot, starting a chain of events that ranged back and forth on both sides of 10th Street, according to a Santa Paula Police official.Commander Mark Hanson said that the incident began on December 7 shortly after 11:30 a.m. when the driver of a 2001 Dodge van, 70-year-old Augustine Najera of Oxnard pulled into a parking lot behind medical offices at 126 N. 10th Street.“Mr. Najera had a friend,” James Willis, 54 of Santa Paula, who “went from a passenger to a pedestrian and got run over,” when he exited the van after telling Najera that he believed that Najera had hit the vehicle in the next parking space, noted Cmdr. Hanson. “Mr. Willis got out of the van to look and apparently Mr. Najera put the vehicle in reverse and quickly accelerated backwards, knocking over Mr. Willis and running over him.”After running over Willis, Najera’s van continued backwards striking the corner of the medical office and then “striking and knocking over a city light pole – one of the new fancy ones – and continued across 10th Street backwards at a high rate of speed.”Cmdr. Hanson said that Najera’s van jumped over the sidewalk and knocked over a tree outside Buena Vista Century 21 Real Estate, struck a sign and came to rest against a planter in front of the office.“At that time he changed direction and continued back across the street into the parking lot he had just left,” driving through the lot to the alley.
Najera drove up the alley to Santa Barbara Street, hung a right turn and made another right turn back onto 10th Street “pulling back into the driveway he had entered before,” Cmdr. Hanson noted. “At this time he struck two more parked cars in the parking lot and finally stopped the van.”Cmdr. Hanson said that Najera was “issued a notice of reevaluation to the Department of Motor Vehicles on the spot,” by responding SPPD officers. “He was licensed and the vehicle, which was not his according to the registration, was insured.”Willis was “Up and walking around,” upon arrival of the SPPD and the Santa Paula Fire Department EMTs but was transported to Ventura County Medical Center after complaining of pain to his abdominal area. Willis also received an abrasion to his right leg.The incident is “still under investigation, although it’s pretty cut and dried. The primary collision factor was unsafe backing…obviously his ability to drive is questionable the immediate issuance of the notice to the DMV was the most appropriate thing to do at the time,” said Cmdr. Hanson. “The good news is there were no serious injuries; when you figure he ran over his friend, crossed the street, took out a light pole, sign and planter, and then crossed back without hitting a pedestrian or another vehicle traveling on 10th Street, that was pretty lucky.”