Update, Nov. 23: Authorities have identified the man who died Nov. 17 on Ashby Avenue near Interstate 80 as 65-year-old Angel Arce Barrera of Richmond. The Alameda County sheriff’s office released the man’s name Tuesday in response to a Berkeleyside inquiry. Officials confirmed Barrera died after a driver struck him. The investigation is ongoing.
Original story: Berkeley police are trying to determine what led to the death of a man in his 60s who was found in the roadway on Ashby Avenue near the entrance to Interstate 80 on Wednesday night.
The man was found on westbound Ashby just east of the railroad overpass, police said Thursday in response to a Berkeleyside inquiry. He had severe injuries to his head and chest and was pronounced dead at the scene.
As of Thursday afternoon, it remained unclear how the man had died, such as whether he might have fallen from the overpass or been struck by a car, Officer Byron White, department spokesperson, said.
“We don’t know what happened beforehand,” White said. “Is this a case where he fell from above or was walking in the road? We don’t know that.”
There are no sidewalks, crosswalks or other pedestrian facilities in the area where the man’s body was found.
Motorists began calling BPD at about 6:10 p.m. Wednesday to report a motionless body in the road. At least one driver said they “had to swerve out of the way to avoid hitting him,” according to emergency dispatch traffic reviewed by Berkeleyside.
Police responded to the area quickly and worked to shut down heavy traffic in the vicinity. BPD also called the California Highway Patrol for assistance in closing the I-80 freeway off-ramp onto Ashby Avenue.
The Berkeley Fire Department responded to the scene and pronounced the man deceased, White said.
BPD sent out a community Nixle alert shortly before 7 p.m. Wednesday advising motorists that Ashby Avenue from Seventh Street to the freeway was closed in both directions “until further notice”; the agency did not explain the reason for the closure. Authorities did not reopen the roadway until 1 a.m. Thursday.
BPD’s Fatal Accident Investigation Team has taken over the case and returned to the area Thursday afternoon to try to learn more about what may have taken place.
“They’re actually out there right now to see if they can find any other witnesses,” White told Berkeleyside at about 2:45 p.m.
BPD said it was too soon to say whether the man may have lived in one of the homeless encampments in the area.
As of publication time, the Alameda County coroner’s office said no information about Wednesday night’s fatality could be shared because the family had not been notified.
Police ask anyone with information about the incident to call BPD’s Traffic Unit at 510-981-5980.
There have been seven other traffic fatalities within the city of Berkeley this year, in addition to a man who had a heart attack and died in October while riding his bike on the pedestrian bridge by Aquatic Park.
Also, in September, two men who had gotten out of their vehicles to argue about a crash on Interstate 80 were killed when a third motorist struck them on the freeway. The California Highway Patrol handled that case.
In addition to this week’s death investigation, three of Berkeley’s traffic fatalities this year took place on or near Ashby Avenue, which is technically a state highway.
In June, Chuck Feezel was fatally injured in a hit-and-run crash by the Telegraph Avenue Whole Foods between Ashby and Webster Street. Police are still trying to identify the driver in that incident and have offered a $50,000 reward.
In July, Latitia Austin Ahmad sustained fatal injuries when a DoorDash driver struck her on Ashby Avenue west of Shattuck Avenue. The driver’s name has never been released and the case is currently under review by the Alameda County district attorney’s office, BPD said Thursday.
In September, a man was found deceased in the median at Ashby Avenue near Adeline Street after an apparent hit-and-run crash. Police are still looking for the driver from that incident.
The city is working to end traffic fatalities and severe injury crashes by 2028 through a program called Vision Zero.