Family members sue over pedestrian death

November 1, 2012

The family of a woman who was struck by a vehicle and killed while crossing Shell Beach Road have filed a lawsuit against the city of Pismo Beach and the Cliffs Resort claiming her death could have been prevented if a crosswalk and proper signage were in place. [SLONewTimes]

On Nov. 19, 2011, Tracia Rittger was crossing westbound on Shell Beach Road near the Cliff’s Resort when she was struck by a car and killed. The driver is alleged to have been speeding. He claimed he failed to see Rittger crossing the road.

In the area of Shell Beach Road where the accident occurred, there are three parking lots on the west side of the road. The lots are primarily used by people headed to the beach or local restaurants. None have crosswalks.

Tricia Rittger’s husband Aaron Rittger says in his complaint that both the Cliffs and the city of Pismo Beach had ample warning that the crossing was dangerous. In 2010, Pismo Beach Planning Commissioner Mark Burnes said he was concerned that the road was dangerous and that a lighted crosswalk was needed.

“Ever since Tricia’s death, I’ve had a lot of people tell me they’ve had similar close calls crossing that same street and how dangerous it is,” Aaron Rittger said in a press release. “We want the Cliffs to fix the problem and make it safe so nobody else gets hurt or loses a loved one.”

Pismo Beach City Attorney David Fleishman expressed his sympathy for the family, but does not agree that the city is responsible for the accident.

“I think it’s a tragedy what happened,” Pismo Beach City Attorney David Fleishman told the New Times. “But I don’t think the city of Pismo Beach is liable at all.”

Aaron Rittger is seeking reimbursement of funeral costs, loss of his wife’s income, court costs and general damages.



This area needs several crosswalks that light up. I think the

Family should turn this into a positive thing by maybe actively

Rally-ing to get the lighted crosswalk in honor of Thier

Loved one so it won’t happen again. But on the other hand

I understand their suit . If the cliffs are not responsible for the

Parking maybe those lots should just be closed and let the cliffs

Lose business cause of parking issues .


Was alcohol a factor? I dont think the Cliffs should be responsible for an incident that took place in the street. That would be like suing me for someone crossing the street in front of my house to visit me and get struck by a car. A crosswalk doesnt prevent these from things from happening. Its merely two stripes of paint on the pavement. Although a lighted flashing cross walk could prove helpful. Although you would have to put them everywhere to ward off other lawsuits.


There is a stop sign near Mei’s. The rule is that pedestrians have the right-of-way at ALL uncontrolled intersections (w/o traffic signals, or even stop signs). We know that driver’s, particularly LA a-holes in Pismo Beach ignore this, but absent an intersection you are on your own. The driver is of course culpable if speeding and the pedestrian misjudged the approaching vehicle. But no reason to blame the City or for parasitic lawyers to cash in.


BTW, pedestrians are legally entitled to cross any road unless between two controlled intersections (traffic lights) in which case they can be charged with jaywalking. And again, vehicles must yield to pedestrians waiting or crossing at ALL uncontrolled intersections.

Russ J

I use the Cliffs parking lot and the one across the street from it. In my opinion, you can hang culpability in two places, the arrogant drivers who live in the local 7 figure homes and the traffic engineers who set the speed limits. County officials are completely ignorant to the pedestrian use of our roadways. These engineers only see the technical aspect of vehicle trips per day or peak traffic flow and they crutch the roadway infrastructure by moving traffic as fast as they can. I see this in every community not controlled by incorporated cities. In this case, the city is totally liable for a speed limit that is ridiculously high for the pedestrian traffic in that area. The Cliffs doesn’t control roadway signage and crossings so they shouldn’t have to pay… The guy who hit her; how much is he worth? Probably not much so the family goes after the deep pockets. I say sue the crap out of the city and put the jerk in jail. Maybe speed limits will be lowered where people are walking, biking, going to school, etc, etc.


1) What is the speed limit on that road?

2) Are there any cross walking within a reasonable walking distance from the parking area?

3) How is the visibility? Can a pedestrian see the oncoming traffic from a reasonable distance as to allow them to cross the road?

These are not intended to be sarcastic questions, I’m not familiar with the area. It does seem to me that unless the visibility is inadequate to cross the road (inability to cross before encountering a vehicle traveling at the maximum speed limit) then it would be the pedestrians fault for crossing without looking both ways first, or for intentionally trying to “beat out” an approaching vehicle?

Either way, my condolences to the family…….


Sorry, item 2 should read : Are there any CROSS WALKS within a reasonable walking distance from the parking area?


Cindy…. For some people… there will never be enough cross walks in their whole lifetime.


You are all so insensitive. Have any of you ever even crossed where Mrs. Rittger was killed? I never knew her but I know from experience that the section of road where she was killed is VERY dangerous. I’m always frightened when having to cross there, and the city SHOULD put proper pedestrian crossing there. The lighting is horrible, there is a curve to the road and there is no pedestrian crosswalk where there most certainly should be.

Unfortunately, it was only a matter of time before someone was struck and killed there. It’s absolutely dangerous for anyone crossing that road.

It is always about money

People are being insensitive because they don’t support Mr Rittger attempting to cash in on his wife’s death?

If he is serious about making changes and not just getting the money, then donate every dime that he might get if he wins in court.


This may seem a bit over the top but I see this day in and day out. People suing anyone for loss they are left with. There is no end to the litigation once people can be convinced they have suffered through the eyes of an eager attorney. While the death of this man’s wife was tragic, it was not intentional and certainly NOT the fault of anyone other than perhaps the pedestrian making a poor choice. We’ve all done it.

Mr. Holly

Sorry for Mr. Rittgers loss. I have parked in that same parking lot several times and have crossed the same street with no problems. One does have to take on the responsibility of crossing the street safely, ie: stop, look and listen.

Now I guess it’s time to get out of the way of the ambulance chasers. The message that I’m getting here is that it is implied that there should be a marked crosswalk at every parking space.


The widowed husband is seeking “loss of his wife’s income.” What exactly does this mean? Her income for a year or a lifetime estimate? That seems excessive since the incident was a tragic accident, nothing more. No one else has ever been killed in that area. \

Greedy lawyer + grieving husband = frivolous lawsuit.


As always…. There is a ready and willing attorney waiting to help out the greiving person looking for a lifetime paycheck. Where do these people come from that are looking for someone else to pay for a unthinking moment. on someones elses part ? The Goverment is not giving enough, so lets sue someone.


This was tragic and I am sorry for your loss. However, pointing your finger at others and trying to pass blame is wrong. The City and the Cliff’s had nothing to do with this tragedy. Are you suggesting there should be crosswalks every 50 feet on every road. Even if there were, some would still choose not to use them. There are traffic laws on the books already that both pedestrians and drivers must adhere to in order to facilitate the safest scenario when crossing the street. It is time to take back responsibility for ourselves and stop blaming others from our own mistakes. The people of Pismo Beach and The owners of the Cliffs did not do this. This is between the car and the pedestrian. Shame on the greedy lawyer looking for his deep pocket buck.


Thanks slotime Very well put.