Tricia Rittger was crossing Shell Beach Road on her way to dinner at the Cliffs Resort when a vehicle struck and killed her on Nov. 19, 2011. She left behind a daughter and husband who argue that her death could have been prevented if a crosswalk and proper signage had been in place from an overflow parking area to the resort. They’ve since hired San Luis Obispo attorney Ryan Harris to sue the Cliffs Resort, the city of Pismo Beach, and the driver, who is alleged to have been speeding and negligent when his Ford SUV hit Rittger.
“Ever since Tricia’s death, I’ve had a lot of people tell me they’ve had similar close calls crossing that same street and how dangerous it is,” Aaron Rittger said in a press release. “We want the Cliffs to fix the problem and make it safe so nobody else gets hurt or loses a loved one.”
No court date has been set, but Harris said he issued the press release in the hopes that more people would be willing to testify to the alleged danger of the crossing. In the official court complaint, Harris alleges that the Cliffs Resort and Pismo Beach had ample notification that the crossing was dangerous, but both failed to resolve the situation.
Minutes from the Feb. 23, 2010, planning commission meeting reveal that more than a year before Rittger’s accident, commissioner Mark Burnes expressed concern that the road was dangerous and that a lighted crosswalk was needed—but it was never built.
“I think it’s a tragedy what happened,” Pismo Beach City Attorney David Fleishman said. “But I don’t think the city of Pismo Beach is liable at all.”
Representatives of the Cliffs Resort didn’t return repeated requests for comment.
While no hard numbers are named in the suit, Harris filed for reimbursement of funeral costs, loss of Rittger’s income, court costs, and general damages for loss of companionship.