Editorial: ‘Justice for Kurtis’
Hutton Marshall | Uptown Editor
You’ve likely heard the story by now. Shortly after sunset on Feb. 23, Aaron “Kurtis” Voorheis was struck and killed by a hit-and-run driver as he attempted to cross University Avenue in Hillcrest. The 35-year-old contractor was out walking his roommate’s Chihuahua, “Minnie.”
His death was tragic for many, and for others, controversial. Behind the veil of social media, many wondered whether he was to blame for the accident, since he crossed the busy street illegally. Some supposedly went so far as to suggest he deserved it (to me, capital punishment for jaywalking seems excessive). Still, at least one fact cannot be contested: Voorheis was struck and killed by a car whose driver kept on driving.
This happened more than two months ago — six weeks as of Easter Sunday — and while many who were outraged at the time have returned to their daily routines, at least one person remains steadfast in finding the car’s driver.
Rudy Delgado lived with Kurtis for many years, all the way up until the day of the accident. Rudy called Kurtis his best friend. He recently called me, requesting an opportunity to tell how he came to form such a tight bond with Kurtis.
Fifteen years back, the two met shortly after Kurtis came to San Diego after running away from his parents when they refused to accept him as a gay. Rudy and Kurtis dated for a couple months and broke up.
Then, one rainy evening, Rudy ran into Kurtis walking with some belongings toward a bridge he planned to sleep under, finding himself with no other place to go. Rudy brought him home to his mother, who became a maternal figure to Kurtis for many years after. As Rudy tells it, he and Kurtis became intensely close friends from that point on.
Fast forward to early 2014. The two are sharing an apartment on Park Boulevard in Hillcrest. Kurtis has been sick and weakened for a long period leading up to the February accident. Neglecting a worsening illness of his own, Rudy took care of him, nursing his friend back to health over a considerable stretch of time. By February, he felt Kurtis was well enough to be on his own long enough for Rudy to address his own medical needs, so he checked himself into the hospital on Sunday, Feb. 23.
Upon arriving at the hospital, Rudy was quickly deemed in immediate need of surgery, which was arranged to take place the following morning. From his hospital bed, he saw early reports of a fatal hit-and-run accident on TV. He saw that it took place on University Avenue, and that a distressed Chihuahua was found with the victim. Rudy tried calling Kurtis to no avail, wanting to confirm it was no one they knew.
The drugs made Rudy sick in the night, so the doctors postponed the early-morning surgery. Again in the hospital bed with the news on TV, the situation finally became clear to Rudy. He recognized Minnie, his Chihuahua, on TV. The reporter said they were trying to find out whose dog it was, as it had been found with the victim of yesterday’s accident.
Rudy went to the front desk. He needed to leave right away, he told them. He needed to find his roommate. Then he learned that Kurtis’s body, in a darkly ironic twist of fate, was inside the same hospital – just a few floors down in the mortuary.
After some protest, Rudy said he was allowed to leave the hospital under the condition he sign an agreement that the hospital would not be held liable should he die due to his untreated illness.
Today, contrary to reason, Rudy puts himself partially to blame for Kurtis’s death. He still hasn’t had the surgery doctors told him months ago that he badly needed.
Still, Rudy remains steadfast in finding the driver. Witnesses reported seeing a passenger in the car as well. Rudy hopes he can reach this person. TV stations, police officers and local elected officials have all heard from Rudy in his attempts to keep Kurtis’s death in the spotlight. He sometimes stands on the corner where the accident took place with an enormous poster board covered with pictures of his roommate. Across the top reads “Justice for Kurtis.”
Rudy said flyers he hung around the intersection with a picture of Kurtis and a number for witnesses to call have been vandalized, with Kurtis’s picture and the phone number scratched off the flyers. Without providing too much, Rudy’s current plan is to catch this vandal in the act and find out if he has any connection to the accident.
Rudy wants the people in the car that struck Kurtis to know what kind of person Kurtis was. He volunteered on holidays, worked hard and valued friendship immensely. And should the person Rudy is trying to reach should somehow find him or herself reading this column, know that you are not the only person tormented by your choice to remain silent.
Any information regarding the hit and run may be reported to the San Diego Police Traffic Division at 858-495-7806.
The Ken’s near death experience
In his column lamenting the (delayed) closing of the Ken Theater [See “The Ken” Vol. 6, Issue 9], columnist Dale Larabee bemoaned the possible fate of the former theater becoming, *gasp*, a fabric store. He ominously mentioned “fabric store” three times in his column. This undoubtedly is an allusion to Discount Fabrics, which is located in a former theater on Adams Avenue in Normal Heights.
Frankly, I would rather see a thriving business using a building designed for a different purpose, than another vacant storefront. Moreover, the personnel at Discount Fabric are very helpful. There is a wide selection of material at affordable prices. I enjoy going there and encourage those who pursue the lost art of making clothes and crafts to shop there.
The most important thing for all of us is to support our local businesses, whether they are movie theaters, video outlets, fabric stores, bicycle shops, jewelry stores, cleaners, restaurants or pubs.
—Rebecca Moore via email
Dale Larabee’s column took indirect potshot sat the 1924 Carteri Theatre building because it is now home to a fabric store. Mr. Larabee would benefit from a walk west over the 15 to see that there is more in my neighborhood than this one repurposed building. An example is the Normal Heights neon sign hanging over the intersection of Felton and Adams. It is the last original neighborhood neon sign in San Diego.
—Suzanne Ledeboer via email
On aging pets
I felt sad when our dog named “box” reached 50 years old [see “Senior pets: keeping the quality going” Vol. 6, Issue 9]. He is not the same as before, as playful as he was and active. I never realized that there will come a time that my pet will reach this age. I have had this notion before that even if dogs reach old age they will still be the same. But obviously I’m definitely wrong. It seems that he is not box anymore. Thanks to this article that open my eyes to the reality that box is already aged. I can no longer play jumping and running activities with him and he needs much more medical attention. Every week I always have him checked by his vet because he feels strange things in his body that somehow exemplifies what is written above. Every morning he does not want to go out and have some walk with me, it seems he is lazy. So I decided to change his everyday routine, and instead of outdoor activities I opted for indoor ones like mind games (puzzles) which can be bought in different pet stores. I’m worried about box’s condition now. But I am always praying that he will be given much more time to spend with me.
—Peter Sinn via sduptownnews.com
The community organizations of Greater Golden Hill
I believe that the people of Golden Hill have made it crystal clear that we do not want to give our money to the GGHCDC to spend as they see fit in the form of multi-million dollar MAD assessments [see “Greater Golden Hill” Vol. 6, Issue 9]. Just in case you have forgotten, it was the Appeals Court who stated that the City of San Diego was “up to mischief” in the GH MAD formation. And we are still here. So forget it.
—“nostalgic” via sduptownnews.com
“And whatever problems the dissolved MAD might have had …”
Yeah, whatever. Well, please pay attention: The “problems” were awful, glaring abuses, and shameful wasting of thousands of property owners’ hard-earned dollars. These “problems” arose from illegal processes and were illegal in their own right. But, whatever.
As for this article, the Kensington and Talmadge [Maintenance Assessment Districts] are being misrepresented. They are purely legal lighting assessment districts, explicitly to pay for and maintain decorative acorn lampposts throughout the area.
The Ken-Tal MADs will in no way be similar to the illegal Golden Hill free-for-all that gave money to the greedy mob that ran the [Greater Golden Hill Community Development Corporation]. They spent our money on anything they wanted.
The Ken-Tal MADs are not for unspecified street decorations or for publicity, websites, office furniture, parties, travel expenses, clothing, or privatized cleaning crews, all decided by the whim of a secretive board, answerable only to one city employee who couldn’t have cared less if they had used the money to buy a yacht. The GGH CDC board and staff did use the funds for everything you could imagine, including paying for their lunches in restaurants and for the parking garages and meters while they were eating for free. They used the funds or all kinds of goodies and tools, and paid rents to their friends for garage space to store these items. They paid their family members’ and their own cell phone bills, including roaming charges to Mexico.
You have an obligation, Uptown News, to report honestly. You can start by printing a correction in your next edition explaining that the five newly proposed Park & Recreation-run legal Ken-Tal Lighting MADs are not like the illegal Economic Development Department-run “commercial” MADs. The Ken-Tal Lighting MADs are not open-ended pots of money for unspecified “beautification, upkeep of public space and often much larger civic projects.” They are for acorn lights and electricity only.
—Blue S. Park via sduptownnews.com
Editor’s Note: The reader above is correct to point out the large operational differences between the dissolved Greater Golden Hill Maintenance Assessment District and those proposed in Kensington. A “correction,” as the reader above requests, is only made when a factual error is printed, which is not the case here.
District Three meets the mayor
I am uncertain why, but my question from the audience — which seemed to generate the most audience reaction —– is not mentioned in this report [see “Faulconer brings ‘Meet the Mayor’ series to The Center” Vol. 6, Issue 9]. For the record, here is what I asked Mayor Faulconer, and the source documents that informed my question are all available by following the link [see article comments on sduptownnews.com]
A block away from us is the Pride Flag and Monument. These have been paid for by holding the Amazing High Heel Races and Pride of Hillcrest Block Parties, in addition to asking individuals and groups for tax-free donations.
But now all those event patrons who contributed and the donors who gave money are being told that their donations were never supposed to be tax-free and cannot claim them on their taxes, because the charity in charge of all the money was suspended by the Secretary of State for failing to file its taxes — which means that for the last 16 months it has been raising funds and operating illegally.
It seems that $147,000 was raised but only $38,000 identified as spent; and we have no idea where the rest has gone.
Mr. Mayor, please, what will you do to help us?
—Matt Wahlstrom via sduptownnews.com