KING CITY — A series of online outreach posts by King City Police Department began Jan. 21 with a post about traffic collisions by Sgt. Anthony Shaw, and more posts are planned on a regular basis as a way for the department to communicate about community safety with residents.

The first post about traffic collisions used a data set from 2017 through 2019 to spot patterns, including how in that three-year period, KCPD investigated 405 collisions and 148 were hit-and-runs. Shaw also discussed the data during a subsequent Facebook Live video on Jan. 31.

“Most of these collisions occurred during the night with no witnesses and very minor damage, which makes it hard to solve,” Shaw said. 

He urged those who believed they had been in a collision to stop and check for damage, as well as to take responsibility.

“We know that collisions are going to happen, and our officers can help you lighten the mood and get through the initial stages of a collision,” Shaw said. “If you leave the scene of a collision and do not at least exchange your contact information and insurance information with the owner of the vehicle or property that you struck, you are opening yourself up for civil liability and possible criminal charges.”

Shaw reminded residents that it was important to be a good neighbor, especially in the event of accidentally hitting someone else’s property.

“The police department and insurance companies understand things happen and accidents like these are not intentional,” he said. “If you are worried about not having insurance or a valid driver license, remember to be a good neighbor, as this is not an excuse to leave the scene of a collision. There are recourses out there and programs that can help you obtain insurance regardless of if you have a driver license or not.”

Shaw noted administrative penalties exist for operating a vehicle without insurance, but jail time for leaving the scene would be more of an impact. He reminded residents to think of the impact on the other person by damaging their property.

“We all know it is frustrating to come outside to find that someone hit our vehicle and did not leave any contact information for us to provide to our insurance companies,” he said.

Many of King City’s collisions during the three-year period had the primary collision factor of unsafe backing.

“It looks like somebody’s leaving their parking spot and backs into the car behind them,” Shaw said. 

He noted simply looking behind while backing up would help.

“People have a tendency to not pay attention or they just back up and don’t bother to look and see what’s behind them,” Shaw said.

Responding is also difficult for police when reports come in after the fact.

“Sometimes it’s a little hard to 100% say what time the collision occurred because a lot of people might not report it right away or they might have an estimated timeframe that it happened because they find it the next day,” Shaw said, adding that multiple incidents are reported with such timeframes as “between 11 and 1.”

Beyond property damage came health and safety.

Shaw noted 2018 had two hit-and-run collisions, in which vehicles didn’t yield to pedestrians, injured them and left the scene.

King City’s 2019 collision stats were scattered across times and locations, with no particular hotspot. The year had 53 hit-and-runs, with five that caused injuries. 

In addition, the year had a total of 19 injury collisions, with 25 total people injured, and one fatal collision.

“If you hit something and you take off, you’re hurting your neighbors, your friends, people that every one of us is fighting for to continue to be here everyday,” Shaw said. “We all are in this together.”

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Sean Roney is a freelance reporter for King City Rustler and Salinas Valley Tribune, a unified publication of Greenfield News, Soledad Bee and Gonzales Tribune. He covers general news for the Salinas Valley communities in South Monterey County.


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