A 93-year-old Sonoma man lost his life in a traffic accident this afternoon in which the motorist who allegedly struck him, fled the scene of the accident according to police.
The accident happened Wednesday, at 3:53 p.m., on 5th Street West and Studley Street. Police said that Alvin Hesse, of Sonoma, was crossing the street in a 3-wheel electic mobility device when Boyes Hot Springs resident Joe Kwai, who was driving a silver PT Cruiser, struck him.
Police arrived at the scene of the accident and found Hesse lying near the edge of the south lane of the street, according to a Sonoma Police Department. Hesse was reportedly crossing the street west to east on 5th Street West, in a marked crosswalk, when he was hit. Hesse was taken to Queen of the Valley Medical Center in Napa, where he later died from his injuries, according to police.
Witnesses told police that the vehicle that hit Hesse left the scene of the accident southbound on 5th Street West.
Police located the vehicle traveling eastbound on Napa Road near Burndale Road and pulled it over. The vehicle had front-end damange that was consistent with the accident, police said.
Kwai, whose license was recently suspended, denied being in an accident, but later told officers that he remembers running over something near the crosswalk on 5th Street West, police said.
"The driver did not know what he hit, but assumed it was some debris in the roadway," according to the Sonoma Police Department.
He was booked into county jail on suspicion of vehicular manslaughter, felony hit and run, and driving on a suspended license.
The crosswalk in which the accident occurred is equipped with yellows flashing lights embedded in the roadway, along with flashing lights mounted on a pole on either side of the roadway, police said.
In addition, there is an audible warning message when the crosswalk flashers have been activated by the pedestrian. Sonoma officers determined the lights and audible warning system was functioning properly at the time of the investigation, but has not been able to determine if the warning system had been activated prior to the accident.
The police department asks that anyone with information pertaining to this accident to contact Deputy Eric Haufler at 707-996-3602.
Hesse was a U.S. Army World War II veteran and was cryptographer and commuunications censor in Army Signal Corp in Alaska and Aleutian Islands, according to his Facebook profile page.
He retired at the age of 65 from San Francisco Chronicle Broadcasting Co-- KRON TV station when it was a NBC affiliate -- after 28 years there, his profile read.
In addition, Hesse was a movie extra in the film "Farmer's Daughter" and wrote two, three-act plays while studying art and creative writing at University of Washington.