They were grandparents and grandchildren. Some were recent immigrants while others were long-time Oakland residents. One was a huge Mary J. Blige fan. Two worked for Tesla motors. Another was a famed wine expert. For all of them, death came unexpectedly.
More than 35 people died from collisions on Oakland’s roads last year, the highest number in more than 10 years. But while other public safety and health crises—like homicides (120 people were killed last year, mostly in shootings) and homelessness (over 5,000 people live on the streets or in shelters)—are rightfully the subject of intense scrutiny and debate, the harmful impacts of our dangerous roadways are less visible.
A traffic death is not just a statistic. It is a tragic event that permanently changes families and communities. Over the last month, The Oaklandside reached out to the families of those killed on Oakland’s roads in 2022, to learn about the victims’ lives. We filed public records requests and dug through databases, news reports, and more, to piece together information about the collisions they suffered.
Pedestrians made up the largest number of traffic deaths at 15. Ten people died inside a car, whether as passengers or drivers. Three people that we know of died while riding a bicycle and six while driving a motorcycle. Two died as a result of police chases, one of which is under investigation following reports the officers weren’t authorized to give chase. The vast majority of the collisions occurred in East Oakland. And most victims were low-income people of color.
A warning: Some of the descriptions of collisions in this list are graphic. Where we included details about people’s injuries, we did so because family and friends of those lost encouraged us to. “People need to know what happened,” Elonda Warner’s daughter Dashantay Walker told us. They said they hope the horrible reality of what happened pushes all of us to demand change.
To read more about how and why we compiled this information, read on to the end of this report.
Joseph Bennett III | Deandre Kirpatrick | Demarco Vierra | Alejandro Herrera Miranda and Leroy Josha Rodriguez | Unidentified | Sylvester Guard Sr. | Lisa Carney | James Lee | Gwendolyn Carson | Raul Angelo Marquez | John Francis Tierney | Joseph Hickman | Allen Nazere | Cleveland W. Allen and Jacqueline Elliott | Earl Wesley | Dao Cheng Zhu | Catherine Devereaux | Jonathan Waters | Emelia Martinez Roa | Dmitry Putilov | Lolomanaia Soakai | Corey Hawkins | Alexander Thomas Henderson | Willie Jackson Sr. | Andrew Tonken | Elonda Warner | Alvin Moore Jr. | Martina Pablo Pablo | Takiyah Burroughs | Agustin Coyotl Contreras | Kentrell Sparrow | Victoria Gonzales | Siupeli Lauaki | Unidentified
Joseph Bennett III, Jan. 17
Driving his Ford Explorer south on Frontage Road near Seventh Street at 1:50 a.m., the 50-year-old Bennett crashed into the back of a large trailer parked in the street’s center divider.
Frontage Road is considered one of Oakland’s most dangerous streets because of its wide width and proximity to the port, which is heavily trafficked by trucks. It’s also poorly lit at night, and cars tend to speed on it, usually because they’re using Frontage as an on-ramp to I-880.
Members of Bennett’s family had a ceremony at the Baker Prado Funeral home in West Oakland a few days after he passed. The Oaklandside has reached out to his family and will add additional personal details if they choose to provide them.
Deandre Kirkpatrick, Jan. 19
A 33-year-old car mechanic, Kirkpatrick was found by his neighbors pinned between the door of a stolen truck and a pole in the 2600 block of 75th Avenue.
Neighbors tried to move the truck, but, according to his sister Yolanda, they couldn’t turn off the ignition because a tool had been used to start the car. Kirkpatrick, a father of two, died after paramedics tried to resuscitate him for several minutes.
Yolanda said their family struggled in their early teenage years, forcing her, Deandre, and the other children to live at a motel in Oakland. Before that, Deandre went to Amherst Middle School in East Oakland. After he lived for a few years with his father in Las Vegas, he returned to the Bay Area and attended San Leandro High School, where he played for the basketball team.
“I’m proud I was his sister while he was here. He was a loving person and was always smiling,” Yolanda said.
Demarco Vierra, Jan. 21
The 31-year-old San Leandro resident was hit and killed by a person driving a truck as he was walking next to the northbound lane on 61st Avenue near Bancroft Avenue.
It is unknown whether Vierra was on the narrow sidewalk on the edge of the street or if he walked at any point on the roadway. The person driving the car fled the scene, and it’s unclear if the Oakland Police Department ever identified them. OPD declined to provide traffic collision reports to The Oaklandside.
Vierra was the first of three people who died last year at this intersection, known in the Seminary-Havenscourt East Oakland neighborhood for being dangerous due to poor street safety infrastructure. Between 50th and 80th Avenues on Bancroft, there are few crosswalks, stop signs, or traffic lights.
Alejandro Herrera Miranda and Leroy Josha Rodrigues, Feb. 1
The 17-year-old Alejandro Miranda was riding as a passenger in a Nissan car driven by an unidentified 16-year-old boy when they collided with a Ford Fusion driven by 26-year-old Josha Rodrigues as they were traveling on International Boulevard near 78th Avenue.
According to police statements, Rodrigues was driving in the bus lane heading downtown when he swerved into the other lane and struck the Nissan that Miranda and the other boy were in. The 16-year-old driver survived and allegedly fled the scene but the Oakland police caught up to him and detained him.
Leroy’s grandmother Linda Rodrigues told The Oaklandside the recent holidays were “very sad” for her family. She is worried about Leroy’s children, ages five and two. “The tragic thing is that the children won’t get to know their father,” she said.
Rodrigues worked at Tesla and was studying aeronautics at a local college, according to his grandmother. He was born in Hayward and grew up in San Leandro.
Linda Rodrigues said her heart goes out to all the families who have lost a loved one this year due to traffic violence. “I think of fathers and mothers this happens to. The thing is, [roads are more dangerous because] people have no patience. Rushing around. They’re running lights and worse,” she said.
The Rodrigues family has set up a GoFundMe page to support his two children.
Santiago Chavez Coxaj, Feb. 14
Coxaj, a resident of Richmond, walked onto the I-580 freeway near Park Boulevard and High Street and was struck and killed by at least two drivers, according to the Alameda County Coroner’s office.
Sylvester Guard Sr., Feb. 18
On February 17, Sylvester Guard fell at a San Francisco BART station, hit his head, and was taken to an emergency room. The next day, after he left the hospital, the 64-year-old fainted behind the wheel of his car, leading to a collision that broke his neck and eventually killed him, according to his niece Kitty Guard.
Within days of his passing, Sylvester’s brother Winslow suffered a heart attack that ended his life. Family members believe Winslow passed away from the shock of losing his brother.
“It’s been a lot to go through,” Kitty Guard said. “Too many people have passed.”
Sylvester came to California from Chicago with his father and mother as a child, and the family was later joined by his six siblings. Guard worked for a time as a tour bus driver for several companies, including for Sonoma County’s River Rock Casino.
His sister Cynthia told The Oaklandside that Guard was a “very reliable” person who was always there for the people he loved, especially his sisters. She said he loved to watch old-school TV shows, including the Honeymooners, verbally imitating Jackie Gleason’s famous character Ralph Kramden.
Guard’s son, Sylvester Guard Jr., organized residents of Sixth Street in San Francisco in 2011 to advocate for more visible crosswalks in low-income neighborhoods.
Lisa Carney, Feb. 27
A single mother of three, the 56-year-old Carney was on her way to an appointment when she saw a truck and a car speeding north toward her on 85th Avenue near the B Street intersection. She slowed down to park near the Highland Community School to avoid the speeding vehicles, but the car caromed off the pursuing truck and smashed into her.
According to two videos of the collision provided by Carney’s family that The Oaklandside was able to view, Carney and her car were sent over the sidewalk into and through a home’s metal-reinforced gate. She died despite resuscitation attempts by first responders.
Lisa’s older brother Edwin told The Oaklandside he was informed by the police that the person who crashed into his sister’s car was driving at least twice the speed limit and was in pursuit of a person who had robbed him. During the chase, the victim of the robbery allegedly pulled out a gun and tried to shoot at the other car. People in the vicinity saw and heard the gunshots.
Edwin said his sister Lisa was a dedicated mother to her three children and that her loss has been shattering.
“She loved her kids,” Edwin said. “They’ve taken it really hard.”
Antonio Smith, one of Carney’s adult sons, told us he sometimes can’t sleep when he starts thinking about his mother. Smith, who also has kids, had moved Carney into his house so she could spend more time with her grandchildren.
The Oakland Police Department arrested the suspect who committed the robbery and caused the collision, but Edwin said prosecutors told him four months ago the incident was still under investigation and that they did not have an update.
“My family is not OK. We are haunted because when we try to figure [out when the] court dates [are], the authorities keep telling us to call back later. It’s a lot to deal with,” Smith told us. “That was my best friend. It’s traumatizing. My kids are devastated. She was their world.”
James Lee, Mar. 2
The Oakland Police Department provided The Oaklandside with Lee’s name following a public records request. His exact cause of death and location were not made available.
Gwendolyn Carson, Mar. 5
At 2:15 a.m., Carson, 61, was hit while crossing International Boulevard near 99th Avenue to get to the Tempo bus stop in the middle of the road. She was killed instantly.
The driver fled the scene before police arrived, and it’s unknown whether there has been an arrest.
Raul Angelo Marquez, Mar. 6
Marquez, an Alameda resident, was riding his motorcycle past the 5800 block of Bancroft Avenue towards San Leandro when he hit the roadway center divider and flipped over, causing serious injuries. The 41-year-old was taken to Highland Hospital, where he died.
Raul was a product of Oakland schools, attending Jefferson Elementary and St. Anthony before moving to San Lorenzo High, graduating in 1998. Marquez had worked as an x-ray technician at a dentist’s office, a park ranger, and a dog handler.
John Francis Tierney, Mar. 8
A 51-year-old Oakland resident, Tierney was hit by a car as he rode his motorcycle on Baldwin Street near the Oakland Coliseum. He was passing traffic in the opposite lane of the road, according to police. He died on March 10 due to his injuries, a week before his birthday.
Tierney grew up in Moraga, attending Campolindo High School in the late 1980s. According to messages on a local funeral home website, he was known for his love of music, playing guitar with his friends, and attending Grateful Dead concerts. Tierney worked as a mentor at the Men of Valor Academy, a transitional housing and employment program in East Oakland. In the years before he passed away, he worked at Argent Materials, a concrete recycling company, picking up illegally dumped materials from the street. At one point, he worked alongside Oakland City Councilmember Treva Reid during one of her community clean-up sessions.
In a Facebook post following his death, Argent Materials said Tierney was an integral part of their community clean-up efforts: “John always seemed to be helping a new friend or trying to clean up a problem no one else would. Serving others was what made John happy. He was a funny, insightful, thoughtful man and a good friend.”
Joseph Hickman, Mar. 9
The 40-year-old Hickman and another man were speeding on motorcycles at around 8:19 p.m. on Foothill Boulevard toward Lake Merritt when Hickman ran a stop sign and collided with a truck driving northbound on 4th Avenue.
Armida Ruelas, a friend of Hickman’s family, told The Oaklandside that Hickman loved to make music, rapping from an early age, and that his dream was to make a living at it.
“He was very outgoing, loved his children and family, and was a good friend. His energy was positive, and his heart was made of gold,” she said.
Allen Nazere, Mar. 9
A native of Florida, Nazere was a traveling construction worker who had jobs all over the country but moved to Oakland to work for Tesla at the electric car maker’s Fremont plant. He was a passenger inside a Dodge Durango in the early morning hours when the vehicle hit a palm tree in the center divide of Lake Park Avenue across the street from the post office near the Grand Lake Theatre.
According to his family, Nazere had celebrated his 41st birthday two weeks earlier.
Nazere was born in the United States but spent much of his childhood in Haiti, where his family originated. He also spent a lot of time in New York City, including with his cousin Rosemie Phillippe, who was very close to him. In middle school, she told The Oaklandside, he was a star basketball player but suffered a car collision that left him with a permanent limp.
Phillippe told The Oaklandside that Nazere was “the most loving individual you could have ever met,” and she thinks about him daily.
“You could never tell when he was upset because he was smiling. He had baby teeth like I do. We always made fun of each other,” she said. “He was full of life, very giving, very affectionate. And hardworking.”
Cleveland W. Allen and Jaqueline Elliott, Mar. 16
On the evening of March 16, Ramon Sanchez, who had been pulled over by Oakland police on an outstanding warrant, fled the officers, hitting their car and speeding away on 76th Avenue. According to the OPD, they did not pursue Sanchez. As Sanchez was speeding through a stop sign at the intersection of High Street and Wattling Street at more than 70 mph, he struck and killed Allen and Elliot, who were crossing the street. The police didn’t provide any more information about Allen and Elliot, including their ages, and we were unable to contact any of their family members.
The police later identified the 37-year-old Sanchez and arrested him. He is charged with double homicide and other offenses and is currently being held in Santa Rita Jail.
Earl Wesley, Mar. 19
The 55-year-old Richmond resident was walking across the 89th Avenue intersection on International Boulevard when he was hit by a car. News reports said the driver fled the scene.
Dao Cheng Zhu, Apr. 22
The 91-year-old Oakland resident was crossing 20th Street and Telegraph Avenue on foot in Temescal when a northbound driver turned west and hit him in the crosswalk. The driver cooperated with police on the scene, according to news reports.
Catherine Devereaux, May 21
A 63-year-old Oakland resident, Devereaux was hit by several drivers between 62nd Avenue and 63rd Avenue on Bancroft Avenue around 10:30 pm. She was walking on the street at the time.
According to witnesses who later spoke to members of the Traffic Violence Rapid Response team, a group of volunteer Oakland residents who organize protests after deadly collisions, Devereaux suffered severe trauma, leading several people, horrified by what they saw, to try to pull her body from the roadway.
Jonathan Waters, May 27
Known as “Jonno” by close friends and family, the 60-year-old Waters was riding his bike on Shattuck Avenue in Temescal when he was hit by an oncoming car at 55th Street as he attempted to make a left turn.
The Oakland Police Department told media at the time that an 18-year-old driver ran into Waters at the intersection, but he was not arrested or charged with any crime. According to OPD, the driver was not at fault in causing the collision.
A former wine director at Chez Panisse, Waters was working as a consultant at Snail Bar at the time of the collision. His death was such a shock to his friends, neighbors, and advocates in the bicycling community that it led to the first of many protests by the Traffic Violence Rapid Response team calling for more investments in street safety infrastructure.
Emelia Martinez Roa, May 31
Senior citizen Emelia Martinez Roa was hit and killed by a white Hummer SUV at the intersection of International Boulevard and 16th Avenue.
She was on her way to help clean the community church she attended, only half a block from where she died. The Hummer fled the scene. At the time of the incident, the Oakland Police Department said they were looking for the suspect.
Dmitry Putilov, June 16
The 42-year-old father was biking with his two sons on 14th Street downtown when a speeding driver hit him.
A video of the incident provided to the public by the Oakland Police Department showed a car stopped in the middle lane of 14th Street at the intersection of Jefferson Street, as Putilov steered his bike into the crosswalk to begin crossing 14th. Suddenly, another car sped around the stopped car and struck Putilov. Putilov’s children witnessed the collision but were not physically injured.
The Traffic Violence Rapid Response team organized a protest at the intersection, and Putilov’s children participated by creating art pieces on white cardboard, each describing how much they loved and missed their dad.
Putilov was deaf, as are his children, which led authorities to speculate that they might not have heard the speeding car as Putilov eased his bike into the crosswalk. It is believed that the light was red at the time of the incident, and both cars should have come to a stop.
The Police Department has not said whether they ever identified or arrested the hit-and-run suspect.
Lolomanaia Soakai, June 26
A 26-year-old airline worker and former Oakland resident, Soakai, his mother, and two other family members were having dinner at a taco truck on the sidewalk and inside their parked cars on International Boulevard near 55th Avenue when a car driven by Arnold Linaldi, 19, lost control and smashed into them.
Linaldi was allegedly fleeing from the police after participating in a sideshow, but the two officers chasing him in a squad car reportedly didn’t have the authorization to conduct the chase. The officers also allegedly did not call for emergency medical help after they witnessed the collision and were recorded on a police radio channel saying they wished the suspect had died as a result of it.
The officers were subsequently relieved of their policing powers, including having their badges and guns taken from them. The OPD has not revealed the final findings of this investigation, which may still be ongoing. Linaldi faces manslaughter charges.
Lolo was a beloved member of the local Tongan community and was known by family members and friends for his support of his mother. He loved to watch football and sing traditional Tongan songs in church and was part of a motorbike community for Pacific Islanders.
One week after the tragedy, hundreds of people, including Lolo’s family and friends, showed up at the scene of the collision to protest the actions of the police department and the injustice of losing their loved one.
Corey Hawkins, July 17
Around 10:11 pm on a Sunday, the 60-year-old Oakland resident was walking near the intersection of 62nd Avenue and Bancroft Avenue when he was hit by a pickup truck.
The Oaklandside is working to obtain more information about this collision and Hawkins’ family through public records requests, city phone records, and social media accounts.
Alexander Thomas Henderson, July 23
Riding his bike on 14th Street toward Lake Merritt around 11 p.m., the 63-year-old Henderson was hit at the Jackson Street intersection near McDonald’s and Oakland’s main public library.
His brother Nathan Henderson was able to view surveillance video that showed Henderson attempting to avoid a manhole cover and running into the back of an Uber driver’s car.
According to the police, Henderson fell from his bike and hit his head on the pavement, leading to a coma. He was on life support for two weeks before physicians determined he was not going to wake up.
Nathan said that while Alexander’s brain injuries could have happened in the fall, his family believes he might have been run over by other cars while he was lying in the road. An autopsy showed that he had a cracked pelvis and rib damage and that his head was crushed.
“He didn’t fall at huge speeds. He should not have had those injuries,” said Nathan.
Born in Berkeley in 1959, Henderson grew up in Orinda with his family, attending Redwood High School. He later attended college at UCLA. After initially pursuing a career as an actor in Los Angeles, at one point becoming a producer for the Hollywood Squares game show, Henderson ended up going to law school and working as a public defender. He worked as a lawyer for nearly 15 years in Southern California, including with state and city agencies trying to reform corrupt policing.
“He had an intellectual and sharp wit and could argue with anybody,” said his brother Nathan.
Henderson experienced serious challenges at different stages of his life. His brother said that in his later years as a lawyer, Henderson suffered from addiction. He lost his government job but worked to keep his legal license and continued in a private practice representing low-income people, including the unhoused. At the time of his passing, Henderson lived in an apartment in Oakland.
Willie Jackson Sr., Aug. 17
A long-time Oakland resident, 83-year-old Willie Jackson Sr., was driving in West Oakland on 14th Street when he tried to make a left turn onto Poplar Street around 6 p.m. According to the police, Jackson was hit by an oncoming driver who was traveling more than 50 mph above the speed limit. After impact, the speeding driver got out of their damaged car and ran away on foot.
In the aftermath of the collision, Jackson Sr. was celebrated by his children for being a person with integrity who cared about others. His son, Willie Jackson Jr., told The Oaklandside at a protest at the scene of the collision that his father was coming back from delivering a warm soup meal to a friend.
Andrew Tonken, Aug. 25
A 35-year-old San Francisco resident, Tonken was crossing Piedmont Avenue and West MacArthur Boulevard in front of the Kaiser Permanente medical building during the evening rush hour when he was hit by Danniqua Tims, a 31-year-old resident of Pittsburg who allegedly ran a red light. Tims was later arrested and charged with vehicular manslaughter.
Tonken graduated from the New School in New York City with a bachelor’s degree in urban and education studies. He was known in the handmade goods industry for being a positive and thoughtful salesperson, as well as an entrepreneur, often working with small businesses in Oakland.
“He was such a smart, industrious, and good person and his death is such a loss for our industry,” Charlie Wright, the owner of recycled and vintage handmade goods store Minor Thread, told The Oaklandside.
At the time of his death, Tonken was working as a representative for the sales agency Keena, which works with large manufacturers to help connect them to smaller, local goods producers. On the morning of his death, Tonken was at the Keena office working with people from the local home goods store Maison D’Etre. He went out for an errand around 4 p.m. and never came back.
“He was a big presence in our lives. A big personality,” Keena principal Adriana de Mello told The Oaklandside. “He was curious and charming and endearing, with great eye contact and great stories. Every conversation with him made you feel special and unique.”
De Mello said Tonken’s death has changed the way she walks around Oakland, with a heightened awareness of pedestrians’ vulnerability.
Tonken is survived by his partner Chris Beard and multiple family members on the East Coast.
Elonda Warner, Sept. 3
At about 12 p.m. in the 1900 block of Dennison Street in East Oakland, Elonda Warner was sitting in the passenger seat of a Chevrolet Impala driven by Corey Hunter. Warner’s 3-year-old boy was sitting in the back, on the driver’s side. Hunter collided with the back of a parked truck, and while he suffered minor injuries and the child survived, Warner’s head was split open by the force of the impact.
Warner lived with Hunter and was taking care of him as he recovered from a gunshot wound, according to Warner’s daughter Dashantay Walker.
Elonda Warner grew up in Oakland and was a home care provider for local residents, including people who were disabled. She was known to her friends as an outgoing person who loved to listen to music by women artists, including Beyoncé and Mary J. Blige. She had five kids, including her son who survived the crash and another who has cerebral palsy.
Walker says she is worried about her youngest brother’s mental health after he witnessed his mother’s death. He often wakes up from nightmares that may be related to the collision.
“He used to call my mom ‘Wawa.’ And now everywhere he goes, he says, ’Wawa head hurt.’ And he covers his head and his eyes. It’s horrible.”
Alvin Moore Jr., Sept. 16
Moore was riding a motorcycle west on 23rd Street about to cross Northgate Avenue when he hit a barrier and fell down a hill all the way onto the BART train tracks. On the tracks, before he could get away, Moore was hit by a train and died immediately, according to news reports at the time.
Martina Pablo Pablo, Oct. 1
While crossing Foothill Boulevard at Austin Street, Martina Pablo Pablo, a 45-year-old resident of Oakland, was hit by a speeding car, according to Oakland’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Commission. Two days later, Pablo Pablo died in a local hospital.
Pablo Pablo was originally from Todos Santos Chuchumatan, in the Northern Highlands of Guatemala. She was a part of the growing community of Mam-speaking Guatemalan people in Oakland. Her husband and their children grieved her loss, receiving consolation from Oaklanders over Facebook and in person.
“I send encouragement to the family and let God rain prayers and strength to her children,” Rosa Marina Jerónimo Pablo said on Facebook.
They also received help with funeral costs from the Oakland-based Radio B’alam station, which broadcasts public health news and Marimba music to this community of around 20,000 people in Oakland. The money the station raised was used to send Pablo Pablo’s body back to Guatemala for burial.
Takiyah Burroughs, Oct. 3
A driver speeding south on Hegenberger Road around 9:50 p.m. hit and killed Burroughs, 27, near the intersection of Hamilton Street as she was crossing the road on foot.
According to Burrough’s mother, Sheree Brown, her daughter got stuck under the car, which dragged her along the road. She was subsequently hit by other cars. When her mother went to see her at the coroner’s office, Burrough’s body was completely broken.
“I wanted to see her. But maybe I shouldn’t have,” Brown told The Oaklandside.
Burroughs studied art in Los Angeles, focusing on clothing design. Her mother remembers her daughter being particularly proud of a school art show she participated in where she showed off designs for handbags and backpacks. Burroughs was planning on starting a shop where people could get their nails done.
Burroughs had one child, a boy named Zion, who is now under the care of his grandmother. Brown says she has had to hold back tears in the last few months not to upset him. Zion spoke at his mother’s funeral.
“Kids soak up stuff. I couldn’t grieve around him while he was crying because that little boy has had enough. He is a strong child, and I’m making sure he is focused and has plenty to do. He has his Xbox, although it’s not working anymore.”
Before the collision that took her daughter’s life, Brown’s son also died last year from a suspected suicide outside an East Bay BART station.
The Oakland resident says she is resentful of the lack of communication from Oakland authorities about her daughter’s death. Brown says neither the Oakland Police Department nor the city contacted her with an official account of the collision or whether they ever arrested the driver who first struck Burroughs and then left the scene of the collision. They also have not provided her with any incident reports.
Burroughs was briefly profiled 13 years ago by the East Bay Times as a local elementary school student seeking help with her algebra homework at a Hayward library.
“I’ll start doing [algebra] just fine, but as the problems get more complicated, I could use a little guidance,” Takiyah told the paper.
Agustin Coyotl Contreras, Oct. 17
Early in the morning of October 17, Oakland police officers were chasing Jonathan Hernandez, who was wanted after being involved in a hit-and-run three days earlier where he brandished a gun. Hernandez allegedly lost control of his vehicle and smashed into a truck driven by Coyotl Contreras, who was killed on the spot.
Coyotl-Contreras, 44, is survived by one child who is now being cared for by his ex-wife and other family members, and two step-children. He also had several brothers and sisters in the area.
A native of the city of Puebla, Mexico, Coyotl arrived in the United States in the late 1990s. Over the years, he worked various maintenance and construction jobs and, most recently, was a contractor for Bayview Environmental Services Inc., a hazardous-material remediation company located across the street from where he died. His work usually involved cleaning up asbestos.
Fausto Coyotl told The Oaklandside that his brother loved to dance, loved to drink Mexican Modelo beer, and loved to go out with friends and family.
“He was a happy man,” he told us in Spanish. “We are still in shock over what happened. He was a young man, and it’s hard to get over because he was not sick.”
Fausto said that because he also works across the street at Bayview Environmental, he constantly drives past the collision location, making it nearly impossible not to experience a deep hurt. Fausto also told us that the Oakland police have not provided him or anyone in his family with an explanation about what happened.
Kentrell Sparrow, Oct. 28
Kentrell Sparrow was hit and killed while riding his motorcycle home, according to family members, who set up a GoFundMe. It’s unclear where the collision occurred.
“He succumbed to his injuries leaving behind a beautiful son and a beautiful, loving family. Thank you for your empathy, and have a blessed day,” they wrote.
Victoria Gonzales, Dec. 20
The 44-year-old Antioch resident was a passenger in a car that veered off the road and into an embankment in the 3800 block of Grizzly Peak Boulevard in the Oakland Hills. At the point of impact, Gonzales was thrown from the car.
The crash occurred after midnight, and Oakland police arrested the driver, 48, on suspicion of vehicular manslaughter with a DUI charge.
The Oaklandside has requested more information from the Oakland Police Department and the District Attorney about whether charges were filed.
Siupeli Lauaki, Dec. 22
A 34-year-old truck driver, Lauaki was leading his father’s funeral procession on his motorcycle when he lost control and hit a pole.
The pole was installed on the 4300 block of MacArthur Boulevard in the Laurel District in 2019 as part of Oakland’s pedestrian and bike lane improvements. It holds a flashing beacon that warns drivers to slow down when a bicycle or a pedestrian is about to cross the road.
The procession was on its way to Mt. Eden Cemetery in Hayward, after the funeral service at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in East Oakland. Lauaki’s wife, Fātima, as well as his children, were at the scene of the tragedy.
Lauaki grew up in Oakland and attended Fremont High School.
The collision was captured during a livestream of the procession by Lauaki on Facebook, and shocked friends who viewed the video added comments about the kind of person he was.
“Gonna miss our jokes, talks, and food we ate together. Love you,” said his friend Moroni Faleono.
“He was always nice and kind and was a happy man,” said a young man at Lauaki’s funeral service, which was uploaded to YouTube last week.
Unidentified, December 29
The 16th pedestrian killed from a collision in 2022 occurred on this day. Little information has been released by the Oakland Police Department, other than the fact that it was a driver of a car that was at fault. The only public record of this traffic fatality so far is a mention of it in this month’s Bicyclist and Pedestrian Commission meeting agenda.
Why and how we reported this story
Roadway deaths aren’t reported consistently by the media. When they are, there’s rarely follow-up to address the root causes of why some streets are more dangerous and why some communities are more at risk. Sometimes, even the local government does a poor job of gathering data on traffic deaths and explaining the risks to the public while pursuing solutions. This report is part of our newsroom’s larger project to investigate Oakland’s dangerous road infrastructure, from its root causes to violent consequences, as well as solutions.
A few quick notes about this list and the limits of the data made available to us: We counted only people who died on roads maintained by the city of Oakland, excluding deaths on highways and bridges that are the jurisdiction of the California Highway Patrol. For collisions on city streets, the Oakland police declined to provide us with traffic collision reports, citing a state law that makes these reports confidential except to involved parties. As a result, very little is known about some of these fatal traffic collisions, including even the identities of the deceased. We will update this post as we obtain more information from other sources.
When possible, we spoke to families of the deceased to learn more about their loved ones. If your friend or loved one is among those who died on Oakland’s roads last year and you’d like to get in contact with us to share more information about who they were, please send us an email.