Rancho Bernardo

Rancho Bernardo Residents Say Intersection Near Deadly Crash is Dangerous

NBCUniversal, Inc.

Residents who live near the scene of a crash that left a 71-year-old man dead in Rancho Bernardo claim the intersection is dangerous.

Police say a young woman in a pick-up truck was heading east along Rancho Bernardo Road towards Pomerado Road Monday evening when 71-year-old John Atcheson pulled in front of her as he was making a left turn – a decision that cost him his life.

Unfortunately, neighbors believe it’s only a matter of time until someone else meets the same fate.

Jeannie Howell’s home office looks out on the corner where Meandro Drive and meets Rancho Bernardo Road.

“I’ve seen a few accidents,” said Howell, but none as bad as Monday night’s collision. “You know as soon as it hit – it was a very loud hit – and you knew it was going to be a bad accident.”

Medics pronounced Atcheson dead at the scene.

“I was shocked and saddened by it,” neighbor Rosanne Colatutto said. “Because then I thought back and I thought oh my goodness, when I heard that sound, that was somebody's life ending.”

Colatutton and many of her neighbors are still rattled by the loss of life, but many aren't surprised.

“This is a really bad intersection,” Eleanor Acmpora said. A sentiment echoed by others who call Meandro Drive home.

The three-way intersection is the only way in and out of their senior living community. And with no forced stop on Rancho Bernardo Road, drivers must cross four lanes of traffic to make a left if they want to hop on Interstate 15.

“You're taking a chance turning left," Acmpora said.

For some, it’s a chance with too high a cost. Several drivers told us they won’t turn left at all.

“It’s just not worth it to try to get across,” said Colatutto, who hopes the crash compels the city to consider adding a stoplight.

“It would just make it safer for everybody,” she said.

Until then, Howell – who has heard more crashes and close calls than she wishes to recall – will keep holding her breath.

"I hear them as they're going around the corner and they honk and I'm just like, 'please don't hit them, please don't hit them!'" Howell said.

NBC 7 reached out to San Diego Police to run a records check. Since 2017, officers have reported eight injury crashes near the intersection of Rancho Bernardo Road and Meandro Drive, though that figure doesn’t take into account hit-and-runs or crashes without injuries.

Contact Us