Multiple agencies can be seen in the southbound lanes of Highway 86 south of Aten Road following the death of a suspected transient struck by a motorist after 1 a.m. Friday, March 19, in south Imperial. | PRESLEY RAMIREZ PHOTO
(This story was updated at 10 a.m. Tuesday, March 23, with additional information, photos, and video footage.)
IMPERIAL — Several days after a man walking across Highway 86 just south of Aten Road was struck and killed by a motorist early Friday, March 19, police still do not know who he is, but they suspect he was a transient.
From his outward appearance, Imperial police Capt. Max Sheffield said on Monday afternoon, March 22, it appears the man who is still considered a “John Doe” was likely homeless.
Imperial County Coroner’s Office investigators were working to identify the individual but had not done so as of Monday afternoon, Sheffield said.
Since the accident, coroner investigators have been combing through video in the area, talking to other local agencies, and trying to determine where the man was coming from at the of the collision, Senior Deputy Coroner Christian Torres told this newspaper on Tuesday morning, March 23.
Although the office has a few leads, Torres declined to discuss them. He did say that an autopsy was be conducted on Wednesday, March 23, at which time the decedent’s fingerprints will be run through a state Department of Justice database.
The man, who appears to be a non-Hispanic Caucasian, or a white man, between the ages of 45 and 60 years old, had no identification on him at the time of the accident, Torres added.
Sheffield was asked if police investigators had visited any known homeless encampments in the area to inquire about the possible transient, but Sheffield said he did not know whether that had been done as of Monday afternoon.
The man was walking from east to west south of the intersection of 86 and Aten when he was apparently struck and probably instantly killed in the southbound No. 2 lane, or the right-hand lane, of the highway, Sheffield said.
The collision occurred about 1:12 a.m., according to a press release sent out to media on March 19.
Sheffield said preliminary police reports did not estimate an age or provide a description of the man, but he was wearing dark clothing that likely made it difficult to see him, the captain added.
“Officers arrived on the scene and located a male laying on the (No. 2) lane, unresponsive, and was later declared deceased at the scene by Imperial County fire personnel. The driver and passenger of the vehicle were checked out by medical personnel and later released from the scene,” according to the release.
The driver of the vehicle that struck to man stayed on scene and did consent to a blood draw to determine if alcohol was involved, but Sheffield said attending officers did not suspect intoxication of any sort and the driver was released from the scene.
“I believe they just did not see him,” the caption explained.
The vehicle in question, a white Toyota RAV4 compact sport-utility, can be seen parked just feet in front of the remains of the deceased man in photos not appropriate to reprint. In those photos, it almost appears if the man is wearing all black clothing.
Sheffield said there were two occupants of the RAV4, and neither of them were injured.
“The Imperial Police Department would like to give our deepest condolences to those affected by this tragic event,” according to the release from Friday. “This is an ongoing investigation.”
In addition to Imperial police, Imperial County sheriff’s deputies, Imperial County Fire Department, and AMR Ambulance assisted at the scene.
For questions, or if you have information regarding this incident, please contact the Imperial Police Department at 760-355-4327.