A man whose brother died after falling through a gap on an overpass of the Santa Ana River said Tuesday that another man's fall through the same opening brought back painful memories nearly six years later.
In 2008, Tom Gomez and his brother, Guillermo Gomez, left a concert at the Honda Center in Anaheim and began to walk back to their cars parked across Katella Avenue. Guillermo Gomez jaywalked with a crowd, then climbed over a concrete barrier that separates westbound and eastbound traffic. He fell through a 12-foot-wide opening to the river bed about 40 feet below.
"They said he'd fallen into a hole, and tracing back my steps from after the concert and walking to my car I couldn't fathom or see where that hole was," Tom Gomez said.
"My greatest wish was to put a railing right on the actual cement," he added.
But that never happened. Last Friday night, police said a 23-year old man fell through the same gap and was critically injured.
Gomez's family filed a lawsuit in 2008 against the cities of Anaheim and Orange, Orange County and the Honda Center operators, but lost the case.
"The case proceeded to trial and a jury found that the street/bridge did not constitute a dangerous condition when used with due care," Anaheim spokeswoman Ruth Ruiz told NBC4 in a statement. "There was not a provision for altering the structure."
Attorney Robert Clayton said he hoped his 2008 lawsuit would have led to changes.
According to Orange County officials, the bridge met its design standards. But Gomez and Clayton contend that those standards are not safe for pedestrians.
"I don't know how many people have to die before they realize we were right," Clayton said. "They need to fix this roadway. You can't tell there's a hole in the middle of the road."
The city of Orange and Honda Center operators declined to comment on both incidents.