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On-campus accident increases pedestrian and driver alertness

October 17th, 2013

On the morning of Wednesday, Oct. 9, a vehicle struck a student on campus while traveling towards the east wing of the Dolan Center for Science and Technology. The student driver had not quite reached the Bohannon Lot when the accident occurred.

“We do not know exactly where that happened, what part of the roadway, but we know kind of where we found everything once we got called,” said Brian Hurd, director of Campus Safety Services. “We had some other students who were close by and heard something and came running over, and they called 911 and they called us.”

Senior Kirsten Hagerty heard the accident occur as she was nearing the crosswalk at John Carroll Boulevard.

“I was coming out through the bushes, and I heard a loud noise as I was entering them,” said Hagerty. “I wasn’t sure what it was. I looked out, and the girl who had hit her had gotten out of the car and she was calling 911, and then the girl who was hit was lying on the ground. She was awake at the time. Her shoes had flown across the parking lot, her bag was by the bushes and her coffee was down, too. She had only landed probably a foot away from the crosswalk.”

Hagerty and another student were the first to witness the scene.

“Nobody else was there,” Hagerty said. “It was just me and one other girl.”

According to Hagerty, a faculty member rushed out of the Dolan Center soon after Hagerty arrived.

The police and emergency squad from the University Heights Police Department arrived on campus within two minutes of receiving the 911 call, and CSS responded to the scene shortly after.

“They [UHPD] got the victim off to the hospital quickly and taken care of, so that was a really repository thing, that there was a really quick response from everybody,” said Hurd. “The student is still in the hospital as far as I know, in intensive care, and being treated right now. We have contacted that family and they are very connected, as much as they could be, to what happened.”

Hurd explained that the driver said she did not see the pedestrian because of sun glare and shrubbery located close to the sidewalk at the entrance of campus, which hinder drivers’ visibility of pedestrians entering campus.

Because the design of the parking lots has crossover between pedestrians and drivers, the speed limit on campus is five miles per hour to enforce caution.

Hurd explained that, as a result of the accident, much of the conversation in the CSS office now centers around driver and pedestrian awareness, as well as preventative measures to ensure a similar incident does not occur on campus again. The accident has heightened sensitivity to the actions and behaviors of pedestrians and drivers.

“We have been talking in our office about the speed limits, crosswalks and walkways and those things that are under our control,” said Hurd. “We obviously cannot control the sun glare, but we can look at doing things that would maybe help pedestrian and vehicular safety.”

To ensure the speed limits and traffic regulations are followed, CSS does traffic enforcement and gives tickets and warnings for speeding and failure to stop at stop signs.

Students voiced their opinions about drivers and pedestrians on campus and in the surrounding area.

“Walking to and from campus, especially when it comes to the six-way intersections, is kind of nerve-racking,” said senior Maria Loya. “Several drivers are on their cell phones and are not paying attention. Some even roll through the stop signs or just don’t even look to see if someone is trying to cross the street.”

Loya recalled an instance earlier this year when she was nearly hit by a car as she was walking to campus.

“One morning on my way to campus, someone was on their cell phone and was in a rush to get to where they were going. If I hadn’t stopped halfway in the street, they would have hit me as they rolled through the stop sign at the corner of Washington and South Belvoir.”

While some students who walk across campus feel that drivers need to be more cautious, a student driver said that pedestrians need to be more aware and cautious as well.

“Pedestrians need to be more careful, especially when walking through parking lots and crossing South Belvoir Boulevard, especially at night when it is hard for drivers to see them,” said junior Tim Ficke. “The JCU parking lots are not big, and drivers have to worry about maneuvering the parking lots as well as pedestrians darting in front of them. A little more caution by all would save a lot of frustration in the parking lot.”