Traffic unit stresses pedestrian safety following weekend fatalities
WILMINGTON,NC (WWAY) — In just ten days, three people have died while crossing the street in New Hanover County. The first died near Carolina Beach. Then, this weekend two people killed in Wilmington. Now, the Wilmington Police Department is raising awareness.
“Three pedestrian and one vehicle fatality in a 10 day period is a lot for any town no matter what town it is,” Corporal Adam Schwartzel said. “That is a lot of lives lost on the road that don’t need to be taken.”
Police are still searching for the suspect vehicle involved in Sunday night’s hit and run.
Schwartzel is with the department’s traffic unit and he says before this weekend pedestrian fatalities averaged about one a month.
“It’s very rare that we have this many this close together, but all these fatalities that we’ve had over the weekend and even the one a couple of days ago out in the county are all the same type of pedestrian fatalities we always have,” Schwartzel said.
He says most wrecks involve pedestrians wearing dark clothes crossing mid-road late at night.
Louis Brown rides his bike on Market Street near the site of Sunday evening’s accident often to get to and from work and knows how bust this road is.
“It gets kind of crazy here on Market Street,” Brown said. “A buddy of mine just had an accident about a month ago.”
Schwartzel says there isn’t as much foot traffic on Oleander Drive where Saturday’s fatal crash occurred, but anyone who tried to cross there and not at a crosswalk has to make it across five lanes.
“We have headlights on our cars and they only shine about 200 feet down the road and where you, the pedestrian, are may be very dark and very hard for the car to see until they get right on top of you,” Schwartzel said.
He says the pedestrian is likely at fault.
“If the pedestrian is crossing mid-block, traffic has the right of way so, if the pedestrian survives, they’re charged,” Schwartzel said. “They’re the one responsible for the crash as long as the driver either didn’t have the opportunity to see them or did something to try to avoid hitting them.”
After a few close calls, Brown says be careful.
“I wouldn’t say it’s a high risk area, but you have to be aware of what’s going on,” Brown said.
Schwartzel says the possibility of drug and alcohol influence cannot be ruled out in these ongoing investigations.