Name released of South Lake Tahoe pedestrian who was killed


Updated Feb. 18 1:30pm:

The name of the man who was fatally struck by an alleged drunken driver Feb. 22 on Lake Tahoe Boulevard has been released.

John Carleton, 51, of South Lake Tahoe died at Barton Memorial Hospital.

The cause of the accident is still under investigation and autopsy results are pending.


A South Lake Tahoe man died Friday night after being struck by a vehicle on Lake Tahoe Boulevard.

The vehicle involved in the fatal accident. Photo/Provided

The 51-year-old, whose name is not being released pending notification of next to kin, was near the Taco Bell when he was hit at 6:45pm Feb. 22.

Gregory Stearns, 49, of South Lake Tahoe was driving with a suspended driver’s license from a prior DUI conviction. He was arrested on charges of driving under the influence of alcohol and driving on a suspended license.

“The cause of the collision is still under investigation, initial indications are that the pedestrian was crossing Lake Tahoe Boulevard outside of a crosswalk, was wearing dark clothing in an unlit portion of the highway, and failed to yield to the oncoming traffic,” police Sgt. Shannon Laney said in a statement. “The pedestrian may also have been intoxicated and has a history with the South Lake Tahoe Police department for public intoxication.”

— Lake Tahoe News staff report


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Comments (46)
  1. PerryRObray says - Posted: February 23, 2013

    CalTrans recently claimed hiway 50 in the city of South Lake Tahoe was a safe enough road at 35 mph to increase the speed to 40 mph. To many pedestrians have died on hiway 50 on south shore in the last 10 years or so. I guess a life is pretty cheap on south shore when CalTrans has its way. Wonder what will happen if every light on 50 is ripped out and the speed limit is 25 mph in the city limits?

  2. Janel Morales says - Posted: February 23, 2013

    We need better street lighting in Tahoe. So many sections are lit only by business signs, which create shadows making it even more difficult to see at night.

  3. John S says - Posted: February 23, 2013

    From the comments I see people blaming Caltrans and the city for the lack of lighting… How about we blame the driver for driving on a suspended license and being under the influence. How about we blame the pedestrian for not crossing at a crosswalk, wearing dark clothing, not yielding to a vehicle and possibly being under the influence. The people involved caused this to happen not the highway or lighting conditions.

  4. Steven says - Posted: February 23, 2013

    John S is right. But a lower speed limit of at least 30 would allow drivers more reaction time and allow businesses to be seen. Remember how the businesses complain the loop road will just allow cars to flow to nevada. Slow the cars down, then they will notice more things, including businesses.

  5. Rick says - Posted: February 23, 2013

    John and Steven: The driver had a previous DUI and was arrested for driving under the influence for this accident. The main culprit is the drunk driver and society unwillingness to severely punish those caught with a DUI. While the pedestrian made a poor choice crossing the street at night, had the driver not been toasted, the accident may have been averted.

    The worst thing you can do is reduce the speed limit in this section to accommodate what appears to be someone driving while impaired. Might have to slow it down to 5mph for drunk folks.


  6. youhavegottobekiddingme says - Posted: February 23, 2013

    But its so much easier to blame the lighting, roads, speed limt, Caltrans, ect. instead of the actions of those invovled. We don’t take personal responsibility for our actions, we find someone else or some other entity to blame.

  7. MTT says - Posted: February 23, 2013

    As a frequent visitor of South Lake Tahoe (I am a North Shore guy)
    A few observations
    The Driver, No idea how drunk or impaired he was. Would it have made a difference? He is now in big trouble. Like many people he chose to risk driving while suspended. And he lost.
    The poor guy who got hit. We don’t have the detail on his condition. How many of us have come across some dunk wasted ass walking, staggering, running into an unlit street in the dark. From what I read he was not doing it right, and paid the ultimate price.
    Hwy 50 from Stateline all the way around to Emerald Bay. OMG!! That is not a pedestrian friendly stretch of road. 1 section is trying to encourage foot traffic, and two block later it’s a night mare. Some places it’s a good half mile to a crossing area. Bike paths and sidewalks in the summer but in winter there are spots where you have to walk into the streets around snow banks or down the side of the road in constant danger.
    Some places and some times of year the speed limit should be 20 and sometimes 50. There is no right speed all the time.
    Bottom line its not really easy of safe to travel on foot or bike in South Lake Tahoe. (Try it you will not like it)
    So I have no solution for you. There is a little bit of blame to spread around for all.
    In addition where I live 30 miles north of you, the weather was HORRIBLE last night. Was it not the same in South Lake? Very high wind! Snowing? Just a miserable time to be out after dark.

  8. little one says - Posted: February 23, 2013

    I think this pedestrian that was killed is my brother and if anyone could give me any information on what took place myself and my Family would greatly appreciate

  9. Tamara says - Posted: February 23, 2013

    This unfortunate event happened right outside my work. Last night was a clear night. The pedestrian chose to jaywalk rather than walk a few hundred feet to the crosswalk at 7-11. Yes, this is not the most pedestrian friendly town, but this could have been avoided had the pedestrian chosen to walk just a little further down the road.

  10. Bijou Bill says - Posted: February 23, 2013

    Let’s forget about assessing blame and have a little empathy for the friends and families involved in this tragic accident. I know compassion for others in our community is a stretch for many nowadays.

  11. Taylor says - Posted: February 23, 2013

    The man killed in this tragic incident was my uncle. For those of you commenting negatively on his actions please remember his family is reading this and what you say may be hurtful. All we know of his last few moments is what is written in this article. How many of you have ever walked outside of a crosswalk? And to call or compare him to a dumb wasted ***… Is that really necessary? At least he was making the safer choice to walk instead of drive and potentially kill someone if he was even drinking which is not known for sure. I can tell you he had faults but what I can also tell you was he was an amazing musician and one hell of a story teller. He took my brother and I on several adventures in our childhood that I will remember fondly for the rest if my life. Without a doubt he loved his family. Uncle Johnny- we love you and will miss you and pray that you are resting in peace.

  12. 4-mer-usmc says - Posted: February 23, 2013


    I am so sorry for your sad loss. Please accept my sincerest condolences on the death of your Uncle Johnny. For what it’s worth, try to ignore the unkind remarks although I know that’s difficult. May your Uncle be at peace.

  13. Kathy says - Posted: February 23, 2013

    So sorry for the loss of this person, I know it must be hard at this time, My condolences to the family, I do not like the speed limit here ,There are children at stake also ,hopefully this does not happen to a child ,or a animal, this is Lake Tahoe ,not a city,R I P.slow down.

  14. Darren says - Posted: February 23, 2013

    Tamara,That drunk, Driving while under suspension killed my brother,I guess by your ignorant statement you know the drunk driver,And your trying to make a case for him.You have just shown the world your brilliance.I hope you never have to be in my shoes!

  15. 30yrlocal says - Posted: February 23, 2013

    Taylor: Am very sorry for the loss of your uncle. I cannot imagine what you and his family are going through. My heart and prayers are with you in this difficult time.

  16. Careaboutthecommunity says - Posted: February 24, 2013

    Very sorry for the loss of this individual, especially in a way that was preventable.

    When are we as a society going to not accept people driving drunk, and also driving on suspended licenses? I would bet many people knew this driver shouldn’t be driving (besides himself), but people don’t want to say anything, confront the guy, or be a snitch by turning him in, but now look at what we have, a suspended driver who was protected, a person who lost their life, the driver will be dealing with this for the rest of his life in many ways, and two families that will never be the same, losses all around :(

  17. Tamara says - Posted: February 24, 2013

    As30 year local… I am in no way making excuses for the driver. He takes fault because he also should not have been on the road. He will most likely face manslaughter charges if it found he was drinking. Blame will be cast but this man’s family will never get their son/uncle/father/brother back. My sincerest condolences to the family. I mean no disrespect. I too am a long time local and to often I see people making these same tragic mistakes. We as individuals need to take personal responsibility for our safety. Cross at crosswalks, wear light and reflective clothing at night and above all, don’t drink and drive. Just because you may think you are alert, you never know about that other guy who may not be so alert.

  18. Laketoohigh says - Posted: February 24, 2013

    This tragic event could have happened to anyone. How unfair of this article to mention that this pedestrian had a history of intoxication without any facts that he was intoxicated at the time. The driver of the vehicle was the one at fault. Stop the BS about speed limits, lighting, crosswalks etc. Drunk driving in our little town is rampant. The casinos spit them out every night after giving them “free drinks” to loosen their wallets. I am surprised there are not more instances.
    Lowering speed limits and putting in better lighting and crosswalks would definitely be ideas to better our community, however, I believe the source of the problem stems from not having more emphasis on our Police force to stop and arrest more drunk drivers comming in from Stateline. Seems it would be like shooting fish in a bath tub. Bad for business though. What a mess!

  19. Miss Frugal says - Posted: February 24, 2013

    Very sad to hear of yet another pedestrian being killed here on the South Shore. I like to walk and bike to work and around town for fun and no matter if it’s daylight or night, I agree with MTT, this town is not pedestrian friendly and is actually very dangerous. Let’s not forget about how many other incidents like this occur here where neither party has been drinking. (One example was the older woman crossing by Grocery Outlet who was killed.) It’s just really, really dark and often really, really tough to get across Hwy 50 or even more dangerous to walk 10 minutes or more to a cross walk when half the time you have to walk in the street to get to one. I feel terrible for both parties and just hope drivers will be more careful and pedestrians will realize that often they cannot be seen. The North Shore is way more pedestrian friendly, you have to go 20 MPH or less in MANY spots due to the tons of well-marked crosswalks with LIGHTS blinking and signs everywhere warning of pedestrians. Anybody ever try to cross in the crosswalk at the Y from the outlets to the “island” where you wait for the light? NO ONE stops for you and people are tearing around the corner, plus the crosswalk lines are nearly invisible. I have to stand there and wait for cars to clear or for the rare person to acknowledge that I am in a marked cross walk. RIP Johnny and my condolences to his family.

  20. Friend from Maine says - Posted: February 24, 2013

    Words can’t express the sadness back home Johnny…. Rest easy now

  21. lisrac says - Posted: February 24, 2013

    My prayers go out to your Uncle, the family and the driver. Why is there so much alcoholism in South Lake Tahoe?

    We seem to blame the external causes (street lights, crosswalks, etc.) when alcoholism is pain from the soul.
    Reach out to the alcoholic and love them through their pain without judgment or criticism, until they can love themselves and live a happy, loving life. We must have unconditional love for ourselves before we can love others. Peace and Love.

  22. sparrow says - Posted: February 24, 2013

    R.I.P How about rest in peace ……

  23. A guy says - Posted: February 24, 2013

    I believe I was with him, just an hour before, if it was who I think it was. He was a great guy, knew him for quite a few years. This is terrible that it happened. Rip Johnny. You will be missed.

  24. Karen Shovelton says - Posted: February 25, 2013

    For my dear friends here in Maine my heart aches for you all. You are a wonderful caring fun loving family who should never have to go through this grief! Please know that when your heart is so deeply sadden by such a tragic loss of life you can turn to your friends who love & care about you all. Disregard the ignorant comments for they are just that!!! Lv your BIG loving family!!
    Your friend….K

  25. PerryRObray says - Posted: February 25, 2013

    John S, I find it hard to believe that having autos traveling adjacent to a sidewalk(literally) going 40 mph is a competent, realistic evaluation. What if your mom/sister, whatever tripped on her shoe laces and fell in the path of an auto going 40 mph? If the auto is going about 25 mph, the chances most likely skyrocket for minimum issues compared to a death. The city of South Lake Tahoe was against the speed limit of 40 mph.

  26. John S says - Posted: February 25, 2013

    PerryRObray — Nowhere in my post do I mention the current 40mph speed limit.

  27. Careaboutthecommunity says - Posted: February 25, 2013

    Perry, our whole country has sidewalks next to roads with speeds 40+. You can’t put safeguards for all “what if” scenarios. I think freeways are the only roads that don’t have sidewalks.

  28. PerryRObray says - Posted: February 25, 2013

    John, “people involved caused this to happen not the highway ” I’m just stating if speeds are reduced maybe the deaths will be too. Sure are a lot of pedestrians(5-10 maybe in the last 10 years)dying after getting hit by autos on the Y to Kahle corridor area.

    CareAboutTheCommunity, “our whole country has sidewalks next to roads with speeds 40+” Should we commit more crime in SLT to equal the national average too? Where I grew up there was about 15 feet between the 35 mph road(which had as much or more asphalt across than 50) and the sidewalk. 1 death I can remember attributed to a blinding horizon sun.

  29. 4-mer-usmc says - Posted: February 25, 2013

    This is the problem with a town being built alongside a U.S. Highway. Since there was no planning for a City the storefronts and businesses were built right alongside the Highway and residences were built directly behind those storefronts and businesses. There is no way for the City to change any aspect of this U.S. Highway since it is controlled by Caltrans. While the courtesy of asking the locals their opinions on the conformation of the Highway may be extended, those opinions are largely ignored. Caltrans mostly comes in and advises the City on what they’re going to do, and then they do it.

  30. Careaboutthecommunity says - Posted: February 25, 2013

    Even 395 right through Carson City 50 MPH is lined with sidewalks, and 6 lanes of traffic + turn lanes!

  31. lisrac says - Posted: February 25, 2013

    South Lake Tahoe has a higher rate of alcoholism than the national average.

    What is causing alcoholism to be more prevalent in South Lake Tahoe than the national average?

    South Lake Tahoe has a higher Suicide rate than the national average, as well as Alcoholism and Drug Addiction. Any ideas on why??

  32. lisrac says - Posted: February 25, 2013

    When are we as a community and nation going to start encouraging sobriety and healthy living instead of prospering off wounded souls?

  33. thing fish says - Posted: February 26, 2013

    lisrac, name one society in the history of the world that was sober.
    humans aren’t even the only animal that seeks out altered states of consciousness.

  34. Wide Awake says - Posted: February 26, 2013

    what other animal wants altered consciousness?

    altered states of consciousness can be achieved without drugs or alcohol.

    yogis, monks, meditators, all achieve altered states of consciousness by going within themselves, not with a substance.

    cavemen were sober – as there was no alcohol.

  35. thing fish says - Posted: February 26, 2013

    Rabbits and deer.
    Cavemen were sober…. well first off cavemen were neanderthals and not homo sapiens, the most recent record of them is from 35,000 years ago. Second, I was referring to human societies.
    Wine in its finished form we know today existed 6000 years ago. Hallucinogenic mushrooms have been used for thousands of years along with peyote, ayahuasca and of course, marijuana.

    Humans use drugs, they have for thousands of years. A sober society is a fantasy, it will never happen.
    You can’t nerf the world.

  36. Laketoohigh says - Posted: February 27, 2013

    Elephants love the alcohol in melons that ferment naturally. They also seem to have fantastic memory capabilities. So it would seem that the drive to forget some things is what both species have in common.

  37. Laketoohigh says - Posted: February 27, 2013

    Elephants love the alcohol in melons that ferment naturally. They also seem to have fantastic memory capabilities. So it would seem that the drive to forget some things is what both species have in common.

  38. Jesse Kalin says - Posted: February 28, 2013

    My condolences to the Carelton family. I was a personal friend of Jhonny’s. We played music together on the East Coast and here in Tahoe. I will miss his great sense of humor, his hilarious voices he could copy,like (Marve Albert) and the pepperage farms guy. Such a loss and so young. In this world of opinions we live, sometimes people don’t think before they type. Jhonny was a great talent that we all have lost. Jhonny was loved and he had nine brothers and sisters who love him. God Bless and R.I.P. Jhon Carelton.
    Jesse Kalin

  39. nature bats last says - Posted: March 1, 2013

    I often am freaked out by the people who run across Lake Tahoe Blvd. at night wearing black clothing and playing Frogger through the traffic. Really, I see it all the time and I am really worried that I might be the unlucky person who accidentally hits one of these people. Its a shame that this happens, people get hit and killed. Its also a shame how many people run red lights in this town, how many people drive drunk and under the influence of drugs or both, and its a shame that my young son has to fear for his life just driving with me across town.

  40. hmmm... says - Posted: March 1, 2013

    may your soul be blessed john….

  41. hmmm... says - Posted: March 1, 2013

    @thingfish….homo sapiens sapiens also lived in caves. they also mated with neanderthals…recent genetic evidence suggests between 1 and 4 percent of DNA from any individual with eaurasian ancestry is….neanderthal.

  42. hmmm... says - Posted: March 1, 2013

    hmmm…random thoughts on altered consciousness….’people’ have been getting high since we descended from trees…be it through ingesting substances…fermented fruits, cannabis, amanita (filtered through reindeer piss), psilocybin/ayahuasca/peyote/coffee/…the list goes on and on. MUCH OF THIS WAS LEARNED THROUGH WATCHING THE BEHAVIORS OF OTHER ANIMALS AFTER THEY INGESTED THESE SUBSTANCES(ape-man see, ape-man do)We also get high from: ritual repetitive dancing, chanting, eating 50 jalapeno peppers(riding the endorphin peak) or through fasting.

    It seems that ‘moderation’ is the key.

    BTW-@thing fish…there appears to be very little ‘alcohol’ use among the natives of north and south america prior to its introduction by invaders…if you’re following a strict definition of ‘sober’.

  43. tahoe Pizza Eater says - Posted: March 1, 2013

    I DON’T LIKE THE INCREASED SPEED LIMIT. But it probably didn’t play a part here. Pedestrians are vulnerable to deadly consequences when they cross a major roadway negligently. Here this guy’s age played a part. AT HIS AGE HE IS FOOLING HIMSELF IF HE THINKS HE CAN RUN AS FAST AS WHEN HE WAS YOUNG. Its kind of like stepping on your cars gas peddle, expecting a serge of power, and you don’t get what you need. The guy is dead, and it was his fault. I’m not sorry about him. Bad things happen to people who do nothing wrong. I save my pity for those people.

  44. hmmm... says - Posted: March 3, 2013

    Driving home from work yesterday…in the gray light of ‘dusk-past-sunset’, 40 mph(speed limit), right hand lane…i get PASSED by an SUV that must’ve been doing 50 mph….promptly cuts in front of me, brakes and turns immediately into Kings Trading Post lot. I don’t know if he was sober or not, I do know he was driving like an idiot.

  45. Sue Tomlinson says - Posted: March 5, 2013

    I had the honor of knowing this talented man who left this world too soon. John was a loving, caring man who had a smile that would light any dark space and he touched my heart in so many ways. I know that he is in peace and crooning with best of them. To his family that loved him so much…my heart is absolutely broken but I am grateful that he was in my life. “Fly me to the Moon” Johnny. God Bless You.

  46. little one says - Posted: March 6, 2013

    Thanks for all the KIND words I read here today.Johnny was my big brother and a very talented Man.He would never have commented on an article like this in a negative way.May you rest in peace Johnny and know that your Half Pint(sister) will miss you always!Love you to the Moon!00XX