Driver who killed pedestrian at North Oak Park Boulevard not at fault

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It’s been more than two months since an Arroyo Grande man was hit and killed while trying to cross a notoriously dangerous Grover Beach roadway on foot. Now the long-awaited findings of an investigation into the incident are available to the public, and the surviving driver won’t face any criminal charges.

In a report released on April 9, the Grover Beach Police Department detailed its investigation into the death of Justin Kissinger, a 33-year-old who was hit on Jan. 21 while attempting to cross North Oak Park Boulevard on foot. Kissinger, according to the report, was wearing dark clothing and found to be heavily intoxicated by alcohol—more than twice the legal limit—at the time of the incident.

CASE CLOSED Arroyo Grande resident Justin Kissinger was hit and killed on Jan. 21 while attempting to cross North Oak Park Boulevard on foot. The findings of an investigation into the incident were just released, and the driver won’t be facing criminal charges. - FILE PHOTO BY KASEY BUBNASH
  • FILE PHOTO BY KASEY BUBNASH
  • CASE CLOSED Arroyo Grande resident Justin Kissinger was hit and killed on Jan. 21 while attempting to cross North Oak Park Boulevard on foot. The findings of an investigation into the incident were just released, and the driver won’t be facing criminal charges.
He narrowly escaped contact with another car on his way across the road, according to the report.



“It was determined that the factors that ultimately resulted in this fatal collision included Mr. Kissinger’s attempt to illegally cross a four-lane minor arterial road,” the report reads, “as well as his impaired judgement due to high levels of intoxication.”

When the incident initially occurred, it seemed to underline complaints Grover Beach residents have had for years about stretches of North Oak Park Boulevard that they say are confusing and dangerous for both drivers and pedestrians to navigate.

The Grover Beach City Council voted at a meeting on Feb. 3 to delay a discussion on highly-anticipated safety improvement projects for the roadway, citing the pending and multi-agency investigation of Kissinger's death.

That decision was met with outrage from community members who live near the intersection of North Oak Park Boulevard and Brighton Avenue, which sits just feet from where Kissinger was killed. Now that the investigation is closed, Grover Beach City Manager Matt Bronson said a discussion on possible changes to the roadway will be scheduled for an upcoming City Council meeting, although he wouldn’t specify exactly when.

Kissinger’s sister, Terra Kissinger, said in a previous interview that her brother’s death could have been avoided had there been adequate street lighting, marked crosswalks, and speed slowing measures.

The details of the recent report, which she claims are inconsistent with those of the coroner’s report in many ways, haven’t changed her mind. According to Terra, her brother wasn’t wearing dark clothes when he was killed, and the driver in question was speeding and wasn’t tested for alcohol consumption.

The SLO County Sheriff’s Office didn’t immediately respond to New Times’ request for the coroner’s report, so those claims couldn’t be confirmed.

“My brother paid for his crime of ‘jaywalking,’ but with his life,” Terra wrote in a message to New Times, adding that she wishes the driver had been more thoroughly investigated. “He gets to go home to his family every night. We will never see my brother again.” ∆
—Kasey Bubnash

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