SOUTH ORANGE, NJ - Two 13-year-old Maplewood girls were struck by a vehicle while crossing South Orange Avenue in the crosswalk at about 12:10 p.m. last Saturday, Oct. 14, according to South Orange police.
According to South Orange police, the girls were crossing south bound on South Orange Avenue adjacent to the flag pole when they were struck by a motorist traveling eastbound on South Orange Avenue.
Witnesses at the scene stated to the investigating officers that the westbound traffic had stopped and yielded to the two girls as they entered and began to cross the street in the crosswalk, but the eastbound driver apparently had not seen the girls crossing. The motorist is a 71-year-old Pennsylvania resident according to police.
The two girls suffered non-life threatening injuries, which police described as "amounting to varying degrees of cuts and contusions." Through the preliminary investigation it appears that as a result of the impact one of the girls had struck the driver’s side windshield of the 2012 Kia sedan in the accident.
The two victims and the driver of the vehicle were transported by the South Orange Rescue Squad to the hospital for treatment, stated police.
The driver of the involved vehicle was issued a summons for failure to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk. The investigation is continuing at this time.
South Orange Village President Sheena Collum posted about the incident on her Facebook page. In addtion to providing a description of what happened, she also wrote the following:
We often talk about the 3 Es of traffic safety - education, enforcement and engineering. The law hasn't changed, you must stop (not yield, STOP) for pedestrians in crosswalks - we've done public education campaigns, lawn signs, banners, met with neighborhood leaders, the press have covered so many stories. Enforcement? We lead all off Essex County in pedestrian safety enforcement despite having one of the smaller departments. In fact, the department issues over 1200 summonses each month related to traffic safety. Some residents criticized me for our "cops in crosswalks" initiative - where we average 40+ summonses in a four hour window. It's not to "make money" and while some claim it's "entrapment", my response is always - "regardless of whether it was an officer or anyone else, you didn't stop". As for engineering, as you can see from this crosswalk - it's been engineered, limiting the exposure time of the pedestrian to vehicles, signage and in fact, it's a location where a new lighted push-button pedestrian sign was installed. So now - I'm going to talk about taking some personal responsibility. Drivers (you and me) need to pay attention. Put the darn phones away, stop fidgeting with your radio, set your GPS in advance so you're not distracted, when you're in a downtown where there's activity and people - stay alert to what's happening around you. Have somewhere to be? Leave 15 minutes earlier than you normally would. The car in front of you is stopped? How's about not swerving around them so quickly when there's likely a blind spot? See an upcoming pedestrian sign? How's about applying the break just to be sure?
There's a lot government can do to educate, enforce and engineer but guess what? There's a lot drivers and pedestrians can also do to work with us to ensure we're not putting lives at risk. You've also heard me talk about how speed impacts the likelihood of whether an individual will be killed if they are struck. 98% of street in our town are posted at 25MPH the only exception being county roads (and guess what? we're working with the county to make changes to a few of those as well). Is 30mph necessary? 35mph? 40mph? "Officer, I was only going 10mph over the speed limit" Well, guess what? That's too much. As I'm writing this, my heart is racing and my face is hot because all I can think about is that two lives with so much ahead of them in this world *could* have been taken today. So maybe you're reading this, maybe it got too long and you got bored - but if this is at all resonating with you - I'm begging you to pay attention and drive safe and share that message if you're a passenger or talking to your children or you're at a cocktail party and ran out of things to talk about. And if you're so inclined, please fee free to pass this message along.