SOUTH SALT LAKE — Police say a 67-year-old homeless man who died Friday night on 3300 South and 1000 West is just the latest victim in a string of auto-pedestrian crashes in the area.
The victim, who police later identified as Duane Nebeker, was staying at the newly opened Road Home, a homeless resource center in South Salt Lake.
Executive Officer Gary Keller with the South Salt Lake Police Department said there have been three crashes in the area since Christmas. Many of the crashes in the past couple of months involve homeless victims.
"It’s getting out of control. These people are crossing at any time, anywhere," Keller said. "When this was all built and set up, we weren’t expecting this kind of people crossing, but why they do it?... It’s unknown to me. These are grownups. They’re not little kids."
People staying at the Road Home said they understand a lot of people jaywalk in the area because of its proximity to the shelter. Although many of the transients do not make excuses for those who choose to jaywalk, they said they wish the city would install streetlights.
The intersection used to include a crosswalk, but it has since been painted over.
"The city really needs to step up their game in my mind... and put something there where we don’t get ran over or anything like that anymore," said Cory Sutton, who stays at the Road Home. "It's very very very dark. They need to put at least a couple street lights up there."
"I just, I feel sad for the family. It’s a horrible thing because I believe the family just visited him on Christmas," said Jaron Taylor, who stays at the Road Home. "I don't want him to die a nameless man."
Friends at the shelter said they knew him and loved him.
"I saw pretty much almost all of it," cried Jeff Sorensen, who became friends with Nebeker at a previous homeless shelter. "I wish him very well up in heaven... He meant a lot to us, you know?"
"He was a very good man. He was a very good man. He was quiet," Sutton said. "It goes deep into my heart because I’ve lost a few people like that too, and it hurt me really badly."
Officers said they plan to work with the resource center to try and educate both drivers and pedestrians about the problem in the area. Police will also step up jaywalking enforcement.
"Backtrack and go to the crosswalk. It’s common sense," Taylor said. "Backtracking is just not there. We’re freezing, you know? We’re not thinking backtrack. We’re thinking just run forward, and run across the street... The bus stop is right there! They just need to backtrack and come around."