Santa Cruz hit-and-run victim shifts focus to dog park

Fundraising starts for Capitola canines
By Stephen Baxter, Santa Cruz Sentinel

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Joshua Laven and his dog, Ozzi, were struck by a hit-and-run driver on May 3, 2012. Laven was killed and Ozzi was adopted by a Capitola couple who found him. (Contributed)

SANTA CRUZ >> Two years after her son was killed in a hit-and-run bike crash north of Santa Cruz, Jennifer Putnam said she is shifting her focus to positive projects.

She wanted to do something for dogs like Ozzi, a Cairn terrier who had been traveling with her son on his cross-country bike trip and stayed with him for hours after the fatal crash.

So Putnam, of Massachusetts, is raising $8,000 to build a dog park on land where Capitola leaders plan to build a city park — on the McGregor property, near New Brighton State Beach.

“I really wanted to focus on the positive things and focus on doing things for the community and for dogs,” Putnam said Tuesday. “It feels better than focusing on who killed my son.”

She said she considers Ozzi a hero for staying with Laven after the crash, which happened the night of May 3, 2012. The next morning, a Capitola man and woman on a tandem bike saw the debris and spotted Ozzi and Laven.

Laven was pronounced dead at the scene, and the couple took Ozzi to a vet and eventually adopted him. They became friends with Putnam, and their plan now is to name the dog park after Ozzi — if they can raise enough money.

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A year after bicyclist Joshua Laven was killed in a hit-and-run on Highway 1, his parents Jennifer Putnam and Jay Putnam came to Santa Cruz to publicize the case and seek the driver. (Matthew Hintz — Santa Cruz Sentinel file)

Tuesday, Capitola leaders said the 1 acre park is set to be built near Park Avenue and the entrance to New Brighton State Beach.

A bike track and a skate park also are expected to be built near a 12,500-square-foot dog park, said Lisa Murphy, Capitola’s administrative services director.

Murphy said the dog park is expected to include benches, a dog fountain, a waste station and other features. It will cost about $8,000 to build and maintain for at least a year. Bids for the work are expected to go out in the coming weeks.

Murphy said that when Putnam approached city leaders about the project, it was a good fit.

“This is the perfect way to memorialize her son,” Murphy said.

Essentially if Putnam’s group can raise the money, they can name the dog park, Murphy said.

A basic website was launched this week to begin their fundraising efforts at www.ozzidogparks.com. One of Putnam’s family members owns a restaurant in Cape Cod, Mass., and they plan to donate from the restaurant’s earnings.

Supporters also have been distributing stickers and Frisbees to dog owners and telling them about the park.

The California Highway Patrol has said that the case continues in Laven’s hit and run.

Officers have said Laven likely was walking his bike when a 2002 to 2005 Dodge Ram pickup struck him, shattering the pickup’s headlight and an extended rearview mirror.

Now on Coast Road and Highway 1 near the crash, a memorial in Laven’s honor features a silver-painted bike that is visible to highway drivers.

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Filmmaker Nick Navarro trains his camera on Joshua Laven’s Ghost Bike memorial on Tuesday near the site along Highway 1 where Laven was killed by a hit-and-run driver in May 2012. Navarro is cycling across the country with Em Baker and Lauren Gardner for a film project which they hope will shine light on the issues of bike and car safety. (Shmuel Thaler — Santa Cruz Sentinel file)

The CHP asks anyone with information to call 831-662-0511.

Link to original article: http://www.santacruzsentinel.com/santacruz/ci_25802898/mother-santa-cruz-hit-and-run-victim-shifts

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