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Longtime Fallbrook resident/owner of Old Town Murrieta business killed in vehicle accident

Wednesday, August 28th, 2013
Issue 35, Volume 17.
Debbie Ramsey
Managing Editor
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Longtime Fallbrook resident and owner of Walt's Old Town Barber Shop in Murrieta, Walter L. Smith, Jr., 62, was killed in a vehicle accident Tuesday evening, August 27 in Vista. Smith lived in Fallbrook for the majority of his life before moving to Vista, where he resided.

Smith was driving his 2009 Suzuki Bergman 650 luxury scooter (motorcycle) westbound on Old River Road in Vista at approximately 40 miles per hour when a 20-year-old man from Vista, driving a 2003 Chevrolet Cavalier failed to stop at the stop sign located at Little Gopher Canyon Road and Old River and entered the intersection.

According to the San Diego County Medical Examiner's Office, "The driver [of the Chevrolet] then made a quick turn to the right into [Smith's] travel path."

CHP public information officer Jim Bettencourt said Smith applied the brakes on the scooter to try and avoid a collision, but was "launched off the scooter into the roadway and landed on the pavement underneath the Chevrolet's front bumper.

Bettencourt said officers and paramedics that responded to the 911 emergency call found Smith injured but responding to questions at the scene.

Smith was taken by helicopter to Palomar Medical Center and passed away from his injuries a short time later.

"Upon arrival [at Palomar], [Smith] was intubated and hospital staff initiated CPR," it was stated in the Medical Examiner's report. "Despite aggressive medical interventions, death was pronounced at 7:51 p.m.; an examination is yet to be scheduled."

The cause of Smith's death has been listed as blunt force trauma.



Comment Profile ImageSmiling Johnny
Comment #1 | Wednesday, Aug 28, 2013 at 4:51 pm
Gonna miss you Brother - RIP
Comment Profile ImageLee
Comment #2 | Wednesday, Aug 28, 2013 at 5:39 pm
How utterly, utterly sad!

Young folks, you need to take driving MUCH, MUCH more seriously! A STOP sign means STOP! It's that simple. A 40 MPH sign means driving 40 MPH, NOT 65 MPH. Slow down! Where's the rush? Driving a little faster will only get you to your destination by a few seconds sooner which CERTAINLY is not worth killing and ending another person's life. You MUST be responsible! You MUST realize that an automobile is not a task to be taken lightly! You must once and for all realize that you are operating a two ton machine . . . with which you can kill one or several people!

This is no joke!

Please slow down. Please take a moment in your spare time to consider all the ramifications of driving a motor vehicle. Please take a moment to consider all the responsibilities of driving a motor vehicle. This is no joke which, unfortunately, we, as a society, have taken far too lightly and granted. We should NOT do so! Driving an automobile is some SERIOUS stuff!

PLEASE think what I have just stated. I am trying to make you aware of the seriousness of driving an automobile not only for the other drivers' sake . . . but also for yours.

Drive safely at ALL times and take driving seriously and responsibly. Thank you.
Comment Profile ImageAnomynous
Comment #3 | Wednesday, Aug 28, 2013 at 5:45 pm
condolence to the family of walter smith
Comment Profile Imagefrom a female motorcycle rider.
Comment #4 | Wednesday, Aug 28, 2013 at 6:21 pm
My condolences to Walter Smith's family and friends. It's a sad day when a young man can't take the extra minute to stop at a stop sign and look both ways before proceeding. If he had been unselfish enough to take that minute Walter would still be alive and his family and friends would be able to continue to enjoy his company. I hope that that 20 year old was not under the influence or using a cell phone. It's bad enough that he was too lazy and selfish to be concerned with anyone else's needs let alone their life. His selfish act has and will continue to affect people of both the man he killed and his own life for a long time to come. It will be interesting to learn his name and his family's name and if he is a local resident or not. I bet he's made his family real proud of him....
Comment Profile Imageanonymous
Comment #5 | Wednesday, Aug 28, 2013 at 8:19 pm
ive been cut off by a new driver twice in 2 days, same time, same location, 2 days in a row. she looks to be permitted with her mother but both times did not stop at her stop sign and came into the road, cut me off and made me move over to the next lane. first time, i dismissed it, second time (the following day) i honked, slowed down so they could see me and yelled at "them". the mother isn't doing her daughter any favors by not teaching the laws. you WILL kill people by not following the rules of the road....
Comment Profile ImageJulie B
Comment #6 | Wednesday, Aug 28, 2013 at 8:55 pm
It's worse than ever. In all my years of driving I have NEVER seen so many irresponisble, disrespectful and flat out rude drivers as I do these days. Today there was a man driving on my rear, then pass me on the left weaving and WHY? BECAUSE HE WAS EATING WITH BOTH HANDS and driving with his ELBOWS? WHAT?!?!??!?! What is going on? I just continue to drive slower and I hope I am making these people mad, I really do. Stop at a stop, don't run the red lights, go the friggen speed limit and oh hey, how about looking at that thing called THE ROAD! Seems to be the last thing anyone is looking at anymore. They are more concered with their stupid phones than getting anywhere safely. RIP sir. I am sorry your life was cut short because some person couldn't take 1 minute to stop! :*( I hope wherever you were going was worth it, person who ran the stop.....
Comment Profile ImageZZZ
Comment #7 | Wednesday, Aug 28, 2013 at 9:15 pm
I'm so sorry. Every Sunday I stop there and look left, but it's actually hard to see vehicles coming, let alone a motor scooter. I'm not excusing anyone, believe does take an extra 'second' to make sure although.
Comment Profile ImageMe
Comment #8 | Wednesday, Aug 28, 2013 at 11:36 pm
There is no way that 20 year could have missed seeing that stop sign. It's a t-shaped intersection. This was pure negligence on his part.

RIP Walter.
Comment Profile ImageSharon
Comment #9 | Thursday, Aug 29, 2013 at 9:13 am
R.I.P my friend you will be missed prayers to the family
Comment Profile ImageMe
Comment #10 | Thursday, Aug 29, 2013 at 10:13 am
@ZZZ the motorscooter was traveling westbound on Old River would have been from your right at the stop sign....
Comment Profile ImageZZZ
Comment #11 | Thursday, Aug 29, 2013 at 12:16 pm
Yes, I noticed that....I stop and turn right, eastbound. But one definately has to look both ways, several times after stopping, the hill starts to incline there on the right. I know I will think of this every Sunday now!!
Comment Profile Imagepeople rolling through
Comment #12 | Thursday, Aug 29, 2013 at 1:39 pm
I hate it when I see people "rolling through" stop signs AND stop lights. I see them roll right through, and barely squeeze themselves in front of me or another car (whoever is in front). At that moment, I think "Where the heck is a police car when you want them to be around at that very moment?" I've learned to always look both ways when I'm at the front of traffic at a green light before proceeding. The color of the light will not help you in any way. Only YOU can help yourself. Be careful out there.
Comment Profile ImageMe
Comment #13 | Thursday, Aug 29, 2013 at 3:21 pm
Me too ZZZ. I go that way quite often. Love the ride on Little Gopher Canyon Road with all the trees and horses. So sad this fella lost his life.
Comment Profile ImageConcerned Citizen
Comment #14 | Thursday, Aug 29, 2013 at 3:56 pm
I hope the driver was not an illegal alien because he would not understand what stop means. Walter was a great man with a kind heart.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation and Department of Homeland Security report:

• 47 percent of cited and/or stopped drivers in California have no license, no insurance, and no registration for the vehicle. Of that number, 92 percent are illegal aliens.

• 63 percent of cited and/or stopped drivers in Arizona have no license, no insurance, and no registration for the vehicle. Of that number, 97 percent are illegal aliens.

• 66 percent of cited and/or stopped drivers in New Mexico have no license, no insurance, and no registration for the vehicle. Of that number, 98 percent are illegal aliens.
Comment Profile ImageLee
Comment #15 | Thursday, Aug 29, 2013 at 8:12 pm
@ # 14 Concerned Citizen

Can your ignorance be any more obvious? Riiiiiiiiiiiight, somebody doesn't understand the universal sign, STOP. Riiiiiiiiiiiiight.
Comment Profile ImageHuss-Davis Family
Comment #16 | Thursday, Aug 29, 2013 at 9:02 pm
There are no words to express the sadness and horror our family feels over Walter's passing. He was special to many people and beloved by his family. Those of us who were his lifelong friends will always remember him with warm thoughts and precious memories. Until we meet again Walter....Be at peace.

As for the young adult who caused his death, I hope that you are held responsible for your action and sent to jail. Taking Walter's life and devastating his family&friends, because you couldn't obey traffic laws, is inexcusable and selfish. May your action lay heavy on your heart for the rest of your days.
Comment Profile ImageLisa
Comment #17 | Thursday, Aug 29, 2013 at 9:31 pm
Heartfelt condolences to the family of Walter Smith. To his brother, Ronnie (and Sue) and family, may God comfort you in this horrible time of such sadness and grief.
Comment Profile ImageJorge
Comment #18 | Friday, Aug 30, 2013 at 12:22 am
I have to ask if any of you old folks like Lee and Julie B on here commenting on " young folks" happen to be one of the group of 4 octogenarians who, while parking to get donuts at the donut pantry, irresponsibly hit the gas and violently rammed the huge timber holding up the roof over the sidewalk outside of the Great China Restaurant in the Major Market Shopping plaza? Go take a look, it's about 10" off base. If the environmentalists and NIMBYs would stop holding up the fixing of blind intersections like this that were laid out when you were in diapers and horse buggies only got up to 30mph this may not have happened
Comment Profile ImageConcerned Citizen
Comment #19 | Friday, Aug 30, 2013 at 2:08 am
@ # 14 Lee
Please don't act foolish and defend people who don't assimilate. God bless Walter and may he rest in peace!
Comment Profile Image@ #14
Comment #20 | Friday, Aug 30, 2013 at 9:55 am
I agree can understand the stats you provide (they don't lie), however your comment of the stop sign you think that just becuase someone is from another country (legally or not. So... since they are illegal, they don't understand, but if they are legal -then they do understand stop?), they don't understand, as Lee said "the universal sign for Stop". You looked foolish and obnoxious with that part of your post.
Comment Profile ImageThe 20 year olds close friend
Comment #21 | Friday, Aug 30, 2013 at 10:19 am
The driver of the cavalier was blinded for a few seconds by the sun setting in the direction he was going and immediately started slowing down. When he finally got his vision back he was about to crash into the wall as the road dead ended so he veered a little to avoid crashing into it, came to a full stop in the middle of the road when suddenly he noticed the motorcycle heading that direction. News really need to get it together and share the right information. He didn't purposely run through the stop sign.
Comment Profile ImageTeresa
Comment #22 | Friday, Aug 30, 2013 at 12:06 pm
Walt, you will be missed! I really don't know how I'm going to explain this to my son. He has been a regular in your shop for the last two years. You were such a great guy. I remember the very first time we came into your shop. I didn't realize that you only took cash. You cut my son's hair and told me to "Just catch me next time". You didn't know us, we could have just gone somewhere else, but you trusted us. I loved that about living in a place with a small town feel. My son will start during in the next month or two and I can only hope that your death will serve as a lesson to him about the responsibility he will be entrusted with. RIP, Walt
Comment Profile ImageAnonymous Friend
Comment #23 | Friday, Aug 30, 2013 at 12:18 pm
Some of you are posting such horrible things about this driver who DO NOT even know the real truth of what happened at the scene. Don't sit there and act like you know what happened. The driver was BLINDED by the sun at the time of the accident, causing him to not see the stop sign but still stopped shortly after. He did NOT run any stop sign on purpose, he isn't an irresponsible teenager like all of you are immaturely accusing him to be. Make sure you know every detail and FACT of things like this, the news and all of you should be ashamed of yourselves for acting the way you are.
It was an unfortunate event and my heart does go out to his family and friends, but do not falsely accuse people when you don't know the reality. Act like adults, please.
Comment Profile ImageJAS
Comment #24 | Friday, Aug 30, 2013 at 1:31 pm
our friend is dead... RIP Walter.
Comment Profile ImageMe
Comment #25 | Friday, Aug 30, 2013 at 4:48 pm
Sorry "Anonymous friend" but that excuse is total bull. That stop sign is very clear for a long distance. That end of Little Gopher Canyon Road is straight. What did you friend 2500 feet with the sun in his eyes?

Your friend is lucky. That 19 year old who just ran into that Ramona man yesterday was arrested on suspicion of vehicular manslaughter because he took his eyes off the road. Your buddy should get the same.
Comment Continued : The comment above was written from the same location.
Post Continued
Comment Profile ImageMe
Comment #26 | Friday, Aug 30, 2013 at 4:53 pm
and @The 20 year olds close friend....the speed limit on that road is 25 mph. There is no way that "dead end" suddenly appeared...unless he was speeding.
Comment Profile ImageRick the Realtor
Comment #27 | Wednesday, Sep 4, 2013 at 3:56 pm
Walt was a good guy who sometimes was a hilariously funny! He was my Barber! That's how I wish to remember him!

I just found out about Walt's unfortunate accident moments ago when I stopped by his closed Barber Shop. Horrible!

Both families and the driver will be plagued by this for years to come. It's sad really... on both sides. There are several victims here... and not just the one who is no longer with us!?

Blessings all!

RIP Walt!
Comment Continued : The comment above was written from the same location.
Post Continued
Comment Profile ImageRick the Realtor
Comment #28 | Wednesday, Sep 4, 2013 at 3:57 pm
Walt was a good guy who sometimes was hilariously funny! He was my Barber! That's how I wish to remember him!

I just found out about Walt's unfortunate accident moments ago when I stopped by his closed Barber Shop. Horrible!

Both families and the driver will be plagued by this for years to come. It's sad really... on both sides. There are several victims here... and not just the one who is no longer with us!?

Blessings all!

RIP Walt!
Comment Profile ImageDiana
Comment #29 | Thursday, Sep 5, 2013 at 5:18 pm
First of all, condolences to friends and family of Walter Smith. I am sure that many of the comments above are being made as result of sadness at the tragic loss of a good friend and dear family member. I must, however, correct the misconception that this senseless accident was anything other than just that - an accident! I arrived at the scene of the accident several minutes after it happened. Mr. Smith was trapped under the car with his helmet on - and he was talking. Emergency vehicles were on the way. The young man who was driving the car was distraught - and clearly in shock. He explained to me that he was not familiar with that intersection and that the sun had blinded him. He did not know that the road came to a tee and that he was headed directly into a brick wall, until the trees shielded the sun and the wall was looming in front of him. It was then, at the last minute, that he turned his wheel to avoid crashing into the wall and ended up stopping in the lane in which Mr Smith was traveling. Based on the position of the motorcycle, Mr. Smith obviously laid down his bike in a effort to minimize damage - and most likely slid underneath the car. There were no long skid marks, which suggests that the young man was not traveling at high speed as he was accused of in the comments above. And he did not purposely run a stop sign - the sun blinded him. If any of you have ever driven down Gopher Canyon or Little Gopher Canyon when the sun is starting to set, you know how blinding the sun can be - you cannot see ANYTHING when that happens! And yes, the blindness can stay with you for a long distance (reference the 2500 foot comment above).
This truly was a tragic accident - and it happened in an instant! Many of you have lost someone you love, for which you will receive compassion. The young man will have to carry the weight of Mr. Smith's death with him for the rest of his life. Please refrain from making cruel accusations and show him some compassion - and remember that it could have been your son, or brother or friend, or even you driving the car.
Comment Profile Imagelearn safety precautions
Comment #30 | Thursday, Sep 5, 2013 at 8:29 pm
Diana - did it ever occur to you to listen to your own words? If this young driver was driving blindly in the sun, was it wise for him to continue? Of course not. The same has happened to me. I don't just keep plowing ahead. Obviously this boy is not an experienced driver and needs to learn how to handle situations differently when he is driving a machine that has the capacity to kill someone. It is sad that this boy also has to also live with the knowledge that his inexperience caused the death of a man that many loved, but perhaps he will seek some help in learning some safer driving skills. If he doesn't do it on his own, hopefully law enforcement will require it. RIP Mr. Smith.
Comment Profile ImageDiana
Comment #31 | Friday, Sep 6, 2013 at 10:43 pm
To "Learn Safety Precautions": Of course I realize that this accident might have been prevented if the young man had slowed down when he was blinded by the sun. And I hope, as you do, that he will seek to improve his driving skills before being on the road again. I also believe that the requirements for a young person to get a drivers license in the first place should include much more time behind the wheel than is required today - and the drivers test should include more safety-related questions. Unfortunately, the roads are filled with inexperienced drivers. My comments were made in response to the heartless things that were said by people completely ignorant of the facts.
Comment Profile Imagelearn s p
Comment #32 | Saturday, Sep 7, 2013 at 9:13 pm
Yes, Diana, the facts are indeed the facts. I agree that more training is needed for drivers prior to them becoming licensed, but the bottom line is that whatever the age of the driver, whatever the experience of the driver, he or she is still accountable for making a responsible decision or an irresponsible one. Excuses are too late in this situation and a man lost his life unnecessarily. That is also a fact.

Article Comments are contributed by our readers, and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Fallbrook Village News staff. The name listed as the author for comments cannot be verified; Comment authors are not guaranteed to be who they claim they are.


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