Caltrans Relents On 29 Palms Traffic Light Following Fatal Crash

(August 23) TWENTYNINE PALMS—More than a year after the California Department of Transportation rejected a request for the establishment of a traffic light at the deadly Highway 62/Encelia Avenue intersection in Twentynine Palms, that agency has reversed itself and has now agreed to provide half of the funding needed for the city to undertake the signalization project.
The approval of the traffic signal came three-and-a-half months after another fatality at the hazardous crossing.
On April 30, a traffic collision involving a sheriff’s vehicle moving at a high rate of speed as its driver was en route to a service call and a motorist who was crossing Highway 62 on Encelia Avenue killed the motorist and left the deputy with severe injuries to his lower extremities.
On that fateful day, Luc Van Bui, 64 of Perris,  was traveling north on Encelia Ave in a Toyota Camry around 7:30 p.m. After stopping at the Encelia intersection with  Twentynine Palms Highway, Bui pulled into the intersection and was broadsided by a sheriff’s vehicle, a 2010 Ford Crown Victoria, driven by deputy Erdem Gorgulu, who was eastbound on the highway en route to a radio call.
Multiple witnesses estimated Gogulu’s speed as at or exceeding 80 miles per hour. Witnesses said the patrol car’s lights and siren were not activated. In addition, Gorgulu’s heading and his moving downhill and out of a setting sun approaching an intersection with visibility problems combined to doom Bui, who was pronounced dead at the scene.
According to Twentynine Palms City Manager Joe Guzzetta, Caltrans officials have reached a conclusion that erection of the signal is warranted and will have the state  contribute half of the funding for the signal.

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