Death of community member raises concerns about pedestrian safety in ”La Colonia”


By: Miguel Hernandez

(Listen to our audio in Spanish and Mixteco, Guadalupe Nundaca variant, 5 min)

On May 13, 2024, the Oxnard Police Department released a press release reporting a pedestrian who was struck and left for dead in the street Monday morning. The incident happened around 5:30 a.m. at the intersection of Cooper Street and Grant Avenue in the La Colonia neighborhood. The man was identified as Ponciano Abarca-García, 38 years old. Investigators believe Abarca-Garcia fell while walking in the crosswalk and was accidentally run over. 

But for many community members, Abarca-García’s death reflects a larger problem in the La Colonia neighborhood, which is the lack of pedestrian infrastructure and safety. Concerns about the safety of pedestrians in La Colonia are nothing new, as the Mixteco Indigenous Community Organizing Project had already launched a campaign to bring more attention to this issue. 

In the presence of this tragedy, several community members are wondering what else needs to happen to bring change to the La Colonia neighborhood. 

It is important to mention that the intersection where Abarca-García died is one where to cross, pedestrians simply approach the street and wait for a car to see them, stop, and let them pass. This means that at this intersection there is no designated traffic light, where pedestrians can press a button, and lights can announce their crossing. The high pedestrian traffic at this intersection further complicates this issue as there is a large population of people in La Colonia, who walk as their primary means of transportation. 

The place where Abarca-García was struck also has no light poles and makes the intersection very dark during peak traffic hours when most of the farming community begins their work day, which is around five in the morning.

A community organizer with MICOP, Jaqueline Gabriel, comments on how she herself has also suffered from the lack of pedestrian infrastructure when she was a child and had to use public transportation with her mother and mentions: 

 “I totally understand the need our community is having right now.”

Gabriel is also a leader in the “Crossing With Safety” campaign that is designed to bring more attention to these problems in La Colonia, mentions that:  

“We hope to get attention paid to at least one of the proposals by the community and that I know of a resolution since that is the goal of this campaign: to avoid more deaths, accidents and concern for the indigenous community of La Colonia!”

The Oxnard Police Department classified Ponciano’s death as an accident but several members of the community feel that it could have been avoided if that intersection had proper pedestrian infrastructure. Now, relatives of Abarca-García are struggling to raise funds to move his remains to his homeland, which is Chacalinitla, Municipality of Ayutla de los Libres, state of Guerrero.

Get Text Updates