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Man struck, killed in Norcross

LAWRENCEVILLE - A 48-year-old Norcross man was struck and killed by a car over the weekend on South Norcross Tucker Road.

Rodrigo Pinon Garcia stepped into the southbound lane to cross the street at 10:42 p.m. Saturday when was run over by a 1991 silver Mercury Cougar. He was taken to Dunwoody Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead as a result of his injuries, said Cpl. Darren Moloney, spokesman for the Gwinnett County Police Department.

The driver of the Mercury, 21-year-old Gabriel Silverio Cortez Luis of Tucker, co-operated with investigators, Moloney said. No charges had been filed against him as of press time Monday. The accident is still under investigation.

South Norcross Tucker Road and its side streets are dotted with apartment complexes where many immigrants reside. It runs east of Interstate 85 off Jimmy Carter Boulevard. The area where the collision occurred was between Sparrows Lane and Park Colony Drive, not at a marked crosswalk or intersection.

Garcia lived near the accident scene in Crestwood Apartments, Moloney said.

His was the third pedestrian fatality in Gwinnett this year, according to the county Medical Examiner's Office. Fifteen pedestrians were killed here in 2004 and in 2005.

Less than two months ago, 29-year-old Baltazar Ledesma was struck by several vehicles in front of the Saddle Brook Apartments on Singleton Road in the same area of Norcross.

Norcross business leaders have been concerned about the number of pedestrians from apartment complexes along South Norcross Tucker Road and Singleton Road who are injured or killed while trying to cross the street, usually to access retail and commercial centers on Jimmy Carter Boulevard.

The Gwinnett County Department of Transportation found that nearly one-quarter of the county's high hazard pedestrian accident locations were at intersections along Jimmy Carter Boulevard. Research shows residents in the area are less likely to own cars and more apt to walk or use public transportation.

The intersection of Jimmy Carter Boulevard and Singleton Road/South Norcross Tucker-Road is difficult for walkers to navigate because it is not perpendicular, from overhead it looks more like a squashed X. There is limited right-of-way and no pedestrian crosswalk, according to a Gwinnett DOT study.

Pedestrian safety is a concern for the Gwinnett Village Community Improvement District, which was recently formed by business leaders and commercial property owners in the Norcross area.

"That is definitely one of the top priorities for us, especially right there at Jimmy Carter and Singleton Road and South Norcross Tucker," said the group's executive director Chuck Warbington. "That's the worst pedestrian spot we have."

Warbington said the county applied for but did not receive a federal grant that would have helped pay for a pedestrian bridge over Jimmy Carter Boulevard near Singleton Road. The community improvement district, which taxes its members and uses the revenue to help revitalize the area, will continue lobbying for a pedestrian bridge and other pedestrian safety projects, Warbington said.

- Staff writer Bryan Brooks contributed to this article.