Image: Google maps
Scroll to the bottom of this story for safety tips about cautious driving around the visually impaired. Image: Google maps

The Berkeley Police Department arrested an Oakland woman Thursday in connection with several violations, including felony driving under the influence, after they say she struck and injured three blind people walking downtown.

Just before 4 p.m., police responded to a reported hit-and-run collision with injuries at the intersection of Shattuck Avenue and Haste Street, said Berkeley Police Capt. Erik Upson.

Upon arrival, officers found three visually impaired people who had been struck and injured. 

The driver who struck them had fled the scene in a black Chevy Camaro, leaving the victims with minor to moderate injuries, Upson said. They did not require hospital care.

Through their investigation, officers identified the driver, 53-year-old Sherri Carbone-Cruz, as responsible for a subsequent collision that left another driver with minor injuries, he said.

Police located Cruz at Channing Way and Shattuck, and detained her, said Upson.

She was arrested on suspicion of felony hit-and-run, possession of methamphetamine, bringing a controlled substance into the jail, and felony driving under the influence.

According to the state driver handbook produced by the DMV, “Pedestrians using guide dogs or white canes with or without a red tip must be given the right-of-way at all times. These pedestrians are partially or totally blind.”

Drivers, especially of “quiet hybrid vehicles,” should be particularly careful when turning corners or backing up.

The handbook offers the following tips for road safety around pedestrians who are visually impaired:

  • At a stop light or sign, stop 5 feet or less from the crosswalk: Blind pedestrians use the engine as a guide. Drivers in electric and hybrid vehicles should exercise extra vigilance, as blind pedestrians may have difficulty identifying them due to their nearly silent nature.
  • Always stop at crosswalks where pedestrians are waiting.
  • Don’t stop in the middle of a crosswalk: This forces pedestrians into traffic.
  • Don’t give blind pedestrians verbal directions: They use traffic sounds before deciding to cross the street.
  • Don’t wait too long for blind pedestrians to cross the street: Pulling in the cane and stepping away from the intersection is a sign for the driver to go.
  • Don’t turn right without looking first: Blind pedestrians with a green light will not expect a driver to turn in front of them; it could leave them disoriented and vulnerable to oncoming traffic.
  • Don’t honk your horn at a blind person: The blind person will not know who the honk is intended for, and may be startled by the noise.
  • Never block the sidewalk.

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Emilie Raguso (former senior editor, news) joined Berkeleyside in 2012 and covered politics, public safety and development until her departure in 2022. In 2017, Emilie was named Journalist of the Year...