Authorities have identified a female jogger struck Sunday by a passing car that knocked her from a bridge into the Santa Ana River where her body was recovered about 17 hours later, California Highway Patrol spokesman Paul Caldwell said.
Sheriff's Lt. Richard Olson identified the victim as Linda Marie Satori, 30, of Anaheim, an engineering technician. An autopsy will be performed to determine the cause of death, he said. Caldwell said investigators are considering whether to recommend to the district attorney's office that charges be filed against the driver of the car, Joseph Montealegre, 25, of Cerritos.
Satori was believed to have been in the far right southbound lane crossing the four-lane bridge with her back to approaching traffic. Caldwell said the state Vehicle Code requires pedestrians on the roadway to face oncoming traffic.
Montealegre said Sunday that before his car struck the jogger, she appeared to be "too far in the street."
But according to two witnesses, Caldwell said, the driver veered to his right and came within three feet of the guard rail before striking Satori. There is no sidewalk along the roadway on the bridge, Caldwell said.
Caldwell said that just before the collision Montealegre "looked to his right, directing his attention to (his) 2-year-old (child) crying in the right front seat. Then he felt an impact to his vehicle and looked up. He observed a pedestrian in his rear view mirror . . . going over the side of the bridge."
Montealegre and another motorist who saw the collision tried to retrieve the woman's body from the murky, 10- to 12-foot-deep water in a spreading basin beneath the Glassell Street bridge located in unincorporated area between Anaheim and Orange, according to authorities.
After searching in vain for several hours on Sunday, authorities called divers out of the water. About five feet of water was drained overnight from the spreading basin and divers from the Orange County Sheriff's Department and several lifeguard agencies returned to the scene Monday morning.
Within five minutes, the body was found in about four to five feet of water underneath the bridge, according to sheriff's spokesman Olson.
An autopsy will be held to determine the cause of death, Olson said. California traffic records indicate an increase in pedestrians injured in accidents involving vehicles in recent years, but it is unknown how many of them involved joggers, authorities said.
According to the Highway Patrol, in 1984 there were 838 pedestrians killed and 15,414 injured in traffic accidents throughout the state. That year in Orange County there were 49 pedestrians killed and 953 injured in traffic accidents.
In 1982 there were 802 pedestrians killed and 13,880 injured statewide and 46 killed and 823 injured in Orange County.
A study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety based on 60 traffic accidents involving 65 joggers in 28 states for 1978-79 found that the joggers had been running with their backs to traffic in 53% of the accidents and were running facing traffic 24% of the time.
In those cases, 30 joggers were killed and 35 were injured. Blame was placed primarily with the driver 27% of the time and with the jogger in 31% of the accidents. In 31% of the accidents, joggers and drivers shared the blame, and in 11% of the cases fault was undetermined.