Two North Sacramento roadside memorials mark back-to-back deaths

Published: Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 1B
Last Modified: Friday, Feb. 8, 2013 - 12:52 pm

There are two roadside memorials on the 100 block of El Camino Avenue in North Sacramento – one for a man who died in a car crash Sunday and the other for a 79-year-old woman struck by an SUV as she brought flowers to the man's mourners Monday night.

Kathryn O'Farrell died around 8:30 p.m. Monday when the sport-utility vehicle hit her as she crossed the street in front of her house to attend a vigil for 30-year-old Demaris Ingram, who was killed in a crash the night before.

Police arrested Reena Ashlie Sanchez, 24, on suspicion of driving while intoxicated in connection with Sunday's fatal crash. Alcohol did not appear to be a factor in the Monday night accident, police said. The driver remained at the scene, and no arrest was made.

O'Farrell was taking out her trash when she saw people congregating across the street in memory of Ingram, said her daughter, Kelly DeLeon. She picked some camellias and began crossing the street to offer the flowers to the mourners.

"She crossed that street many times and knew how dangerous it is," she said. "She just didn't have time."

O'Farrell moved into the home in 1962, DeLeon said.

"She takes care of her neighbors all the time," said neighbor Ana Cervantes.

She said she has lived across the street from O'Farrell for 35 years.

Cervantes said she recalls O'Farrell rallying community support for streetlights and signals along their section of El Camino Avenue.

"It's not a safe street," Cervantes said. "The traffic goes too fast, and you have to take a lot of care crossing the street."

According to dispatch reports, Sacramento police responded to three traffic accidents, a reckless driver and a drunken driver at the intersection of El Camino Avenue and Colfax Street last year.

The accidents Sunday and Monday nights happened near that intersection on a stretch of El Camino Avenue just east of train tracks and a bridge over a levee. Two lanes carry cars and bicycles over the bridge and down into the residential area lined with trees and streetlights.

Linda Tucker, a spokeswoman for the city Transportation Department, said a couple requested traffic signals for the El Camino and Colfax intersection in 2003, and the signals were installed in 2009. Prior to that, there were about six traffic accidents per year at the intersection, Tucker said. The rate dropped to one accident per year after the signals were installed.

On Tuesday afternoon, city crews inspected streetlights along El Camino Avenue as O'Farrell's family spoke to reporters.

Kelly DeLeon said there was little surprise that her mother advocated for street safety in the neighborhood.

Her mother had offered a blanket to a baby passenger in one of the vehicles involved in Sunday's accident, she said. "My mom was like the matriarch of the neighborhood."

Kathryn O'Farrell, who enjoyed golfing and water aerobics, was half Irish, and her daughter said she spoke with her on the phone about buying plane tickets to Ireland just before the fatal accident.

An Irish wake is planned for 1 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 16, at Vince's Ristorante, 840 Harbor Blvd. in West Sacramento, for family and friends, she said. "We're not having a funeral for her," DeLeon said. "We're going to have a party."

Editor's Note: This story has been changed from the print version to add the date and location of the wake planned for Kathryn O'Farrell. Corrected on Feb. 8, 2013.

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