By Shawnte Passmore

ROCKLIN (CBS13) – A rising young student and basketball player’s life was cut short.

Rocklin police say Anthony Williams died when a car hit him while walking Saturday evening. The driver is cooperating and investigators do not believe drugs or alcohol played a role.

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“I don’t understand how this really happened,” said Chris Soto, a friend who attended a growing memorial near the crash site.

Williams is the second person Soto lost to a crash-related death in recent years. The pair attended Whitney High before Williams transferred to Inderkum High in Natomas.

The teen’s passing follows a disturbing trend in the nation: pedestrian deaths are on the rise.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported more than 6,000 pedestrians were killed in traffic crashes in 2019.

Fast-forward, bad behavior behind the wheel only increased, according to AAA.

AAA Northern California spokesperson Aldo Vazquez says a survey was conducted following an increase in traffic fatalities during the pandemic, which involved impaired drivers, red light runners, aggressive drives and people not wearing seatbelts.

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The AAA Foundation launched the survey and released its results. Overwhelmingly, respondents admitted to openly speedingsd, running red lights, aggressively switching lanes and driving distracted.

The demographic for risky drivers?

“They were disproportionally more male and younger which is typically a group that is riskier than the average population,” Vazquez said.

But how could these trends spike when people drove less during the pandemic?

Experts believe empty roads allowed drivers to compromise traffic safety.

Despite entering an endemic phase with more cars back on the road, some drivers may be slow to shake their risky driving.

At the Rocklin memorial, Williams’ best friend looks at the vigil in disbelief as memories flood his mind.

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“The laughs that we would have. Every time I hung out with Anthony, it was just a good vibe,” said Ty Lonergan. “It was always positivity. He loved everybody. He wanted to see the best from everybody. “

Shawnte Passmore