The family of an Escondido tree trimmer struck and killed by a car while pulling branches out of a roadway during a work shift wants answers as they grieve the sudden, tragic death of their loved one.
“We want answers. We want to know what happened,” said Oscar Hernandez, referring to the death of his brother, Luis Hernandez.
“From what I heard on the news, they’re saying the [driver] was going 30 mph. If you look at the truck – just imagine if the truck ended up like that – what would my brother end up like?” Oscar added.
According to California Highway Patrol (CHP) officials, Luis, who worked for Davey’s Tree Service, was trimming trees along the shoulder on Cole Grade Road at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday. Just as Luis was pulling branches out of the roadway, a 34-year-old man behind the wheel of a 2004 GMC Sierra struck him. The car was traveling between 35 and 40 mph at the time of the collision.
Luis did not survive the impact and was pronounced dead at the scene.
The accident is under investigation, but CHP officials said alcohol and drugs were not factors in the deadly crash. Investigators said Luis walking into the path of the vehicle in the southbound traffic lane and the driver could not avoid hitting him. The driver remained on scene and cooperated with investigators.
It is unknown, at this point, whether that driver will face charges in the fatal accident.
For Luis’ heartbroken family and friends, the pain of the accident is too much to handle.
In an exclusive interview with NBC 7, Oscar said his brother, who was 26 years old, leaves behind a girlfriend and a 1-year-old daughter, as well as devastated parents and two siblings.
On Wednesday night, in a powerful show of solidarity, the family crowded together at a home to show exactly how many people are impacted by Luis’ tragic death.
The family believes the driver who hit him was traveling at much higher speeds than reported by the CHP. Oscar told NBC 7 he feels there should’ve been more safety measures on the roadway that day to keep his brother and other workers safe.
Luis’ co-worker, Francisco Lopez, spoke with NBC 7 Wednesday and described the horrific accident. Lopez was standing just feet away from Luis when he was hit by the GMC.
“I’m going back and I hear a big noise and I called his name, and [I hear] screaming. And I look, and my friend is over there,” Lopez recalled.
NBC 7 reached out to Davey’s Tree Service Wednesday for a statement but did not hear back. Previously, just after the accident, the company issued this statement:
“At this point, our primary concern is for the family and other employees working in that area. This is a tragedy for the entire Davey family and our thoughts and prayers are with employee’s family, co-workers and loved ones.”
Luis’ family is pleading for more answers as to how, exactly, this accident happened. They said they were told the driver was distracted because he was swatting away a bee at the time of the crash.