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October 31, 2003

Driver leaves crash scene to seek hearing interpreter

From: Fresno Bee, CA - Oct 31, 2003

Investigators said the driver involved in a fatal pedestrian accident Thursday morning on Highway 99 near the Gateway Drive crossing left the scene because she is deaf and mute.

California Highway Patrol spokesman Daniel Freeman said that officers responded at 5:34 a.m. to the accident scene on southbound Highway 99 north of Madera Community Hospital and found a woman dead there.

It was apparent that the woman, whom Madera County coroner deputies were trying hours later to identify, had been hit by a vehicle. But the vehicle that hit the pedestrian was not at the scene.

A few minutes later, relatives of Gloria Rodriguez, 60, of Madera called the CHP and said that she had been the driver involved. Rodriguez drove home so that relatives could interpret her statement in sign language, investigators were told.

The CHP said that apparently the unidentified pedestrian attempted to cross the southbound highway traffic lanes directly in front of Rodriguez' 1998 Chevrolet Cavalier. The pedestrian died at the scene.

On Thursday afternoon, CHP officers said they were planning to talk to a man who called the Madera CHP office and identified himself as a witness in the early morning accident. The investigation remains open.

© 2003, The Fresno Bee