SAN DIEGO - A woman suffered fatal injuries Wednesday when a San Diego Gas & Electric truck struck her on a Shelltown-area road as she tried to protect two young girls in the path of the vehicle.
The SDG&E pickup struck the woman in the 3900 block of Cottonwood Street shortly after at 7:30 a.m., according to San Diego police.
The victim, identified by relatives and neighbors as 37-year-old Ana Herrera Rodriguez, was pinned beneath the Chevrolet Colorado until a group of witnesses managed to lift the truck off of her. An ambulance crew took her to UCSD Medical Center, where she was pronounced dead.
The 4- and 5-year-old girls, the younger one Herrera's daughter, were treated at Rady Children's Hospital for minor injuries, including abrasions. It was not immediately clear if they also had been struck by the vehicle or might have simply fallen.
The victim's son, Eduardo, told 10News that his mother had been holding hands with the girls as they walked to preschool classes and was trying to push them behind her to safety when she was hit.
The mother of the 5-year-old, Raquel Arias, told reporters, "I had asked my daughter what happened and she said they were holding hands, crossing the street and that's all my daughter would say, she was in so much pain. The whole side of her face, the whole side of her leg is scraped."
Arias said the other little girl had broken bones.
"She has some pelvic fractures, liver damage. She's up in ICU right now and they're going to keep her," said Arias.
The accident occurred just after the 55-year-old SDG&E employee turned onto the street from an alley and began heading east at moderate speed, SDPD public affairs Officer Ed Zwibel said.
The fact that the utility worker was driving into the morning sun could have played a role in the accident, Lt. Darryl Hoover told reporters.
Arias' mother-in-law demanded answers.
"Why? How could he have not seen them? It's a grown person with two kids," Arias' mother-in-law said.
Statement from San Diego Gas & Electric
"A San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) employee was involved in a tragic accident this morning that took the life of a woman in San Diego. The driver was on duty and driving a company vehicle. The circumstances of this accident are under investigation and SDG&E is cooperating fully with authorities."
"This is a devastating accident and our hearts and prayers go out to the family of the victim. Safety is at the foundation of who we are as a company – from initial employee training to the construction, operation and maintenance of our facilities and the service provided to our customers. We are holding a safety stand down with employees to underscore our commitment to employee and public safety."