Mr. Abera Kebede Tura, a leader within San Diego’s Ethiopian community, was hit by a car and died last September while crossing El Cajon Boulevard as he was leaving Awash Market, a regular gathering place of San Diego’s Ethiopian community.
Mr. Tura was a laudable individual. Before seeking exile from Ethiopia, he was a dedicated journalist who wrote about free speech and equal rights. Upon moving to San Diego 15 years ago, he was touted as a community leader who supported incumbent refugees. He supported people’s housing needs, immigration issues, and other social issues.
Awash Market, located on the corner of Kansas St and El Cajon Boulevard, was a place that he frequented often. It was his communication center, a place to enjoy tea and coffee, where he could find spices, injera, and other cultural items from his home country. What a shame that his life ended while crossing the street, exiting a small business so dear to his heart.
Tragically, Mr. Tura is not the only victim to have suffered at this intersection. Seven other people were seriously injured during the last 10 years at the same location.
Last Saturday, Circulate SD’s Jim Stone joined with District Three Councilmember Chris Ward, the El Cajon Boulevard Business Improvement Association, and friends and family members of Mr. Tura’s to celebrate his life and discuss how future tragedies at the same intersection can be prevented.
Councilmember Ward offered his condolences and said, "Mr. Tura's loss is a tragedy not just for his family, but our entire community. We have the data to know where the most dangerous places in our communities are, and I will continue working closely with the city to prevent this from happening again."
Mr. Tura’s brother (shown with Councilmember Ward, and Beryl Forman, Mobility and Marketing Manager for the Blvd BIA in photo above) urged the city to provide more lighting, slower vehicle speeds, and a new crossing to make it safer for others.
For those who work and live on and around El Cajon Boulevard, it is easy to understand the challenges and consequences of crossing the street. With six lanes dedicated to cars, and insufficient cross walks, drivers are encouraged to speed, putting lives at risk. We must improve the street to prevent more tragedies like this. We must do better.
In 2013, KTU+A called the intersection of Kansas St and El Cajon Boulevard as the most dangerous crossing based on collision data on The Boulevard’s West-End. Per request of the Boulevard BIA, they designed a two-phased pedestrian crossing that would prevent a similar type of crash.
Circulate San Diego, the Blvd BIA, and friends and family members of Mr. Tura’s are urging the City to include the new crosswalk in next year’s budget.
We are thankful for the firm support from Councilmember Chris Ward. We will keep Vision Zero supporters up to date to help us advocate for these improvements that can save someone's life.
- Co-Authored by Beryl Forman and Kathleen Ferrier