Recent pedestrian deaths in Missouri

Missouri has had several unusual pedestrian deaths recently, though they are part of an all too common trend--70 pedestrians are killed and another 1400 injured in Missouri every year.  Here is the rundown on some of the recent pedestrian fatalities:

St. Joseph - School bus kills student crossing in crosswalk


Mason Adams
Mason Adams
year old Mason Adams was killed by a school bus as he walked to school November 15th.

According to witnesses, Mason was walking across the intersection in a crosswalk with the green light.  The bus, waiting to make a left-hand turn, crossed the crosswalk and struck Mason.

The bus driver, Tracey J. Jones, 23, was charged with careless and imprudent driving.  Mason's family has brought a civil lawsuit against the First Student Inc, which operates the buses.

To make matters worse, Adams' facebook memorial page was attacked by online vandals, who mercilessly mocked the situation.

The situation has more than a little in common with the notorious case of Suzie Stephens, who was killed in St Louis in 2002.  Suzie was also crossing in a crosswalk, with the "Walk" signal (and thus with the right-of-way over all turning/crossing traffic), when she was struck and crushed by a turning bus.

Springfield - Speeding automobile kills student


Bill McCreary
Bill McCreary
student William "Bill" McCreary of Lee's Summit was killed by a speeding automobile.  According to witnesses, the Nissan 350Z, driven by fellow MSU student Ahmed Salman Almahuzi, had run a red light and been going fast enough to become airborne immediately prior to the crash that killed McCreary.  Almahuzi was arrested and has been charged with involuntary manslaughter.

Kansas City - Motorist deliberately runs down pedestrian

In Kansas City, a grocery store argument about ice cream led to the deliberate running down of a couple.  According to witness statements, the driver had been ranting and raving and said, "I feel like killing her" while talking on her cell phone.

A few minutes later, a silver PT cruiser drove towards the couple and their shopping cart at high speed, striking the woman and the shopping cart.  The woman is currently in the hospital in a coma.

The police charged the driver, Brenda C. Brown, with first-degree assault, armed criminal action, and leaving the scene.

More details in the KCStar article.

Buchanan County - Driver reaching for cell phone kills pedestrian

Charles E. Wilson was driving to his apartment to feed his dog.  The St Joseph News Press reports what happened next:

Traveling west on State Route DD, he heard his phone ring and reached down to answer it. When he looked up, he said he was blinded by the sun and struck Donna J. Ruoff, 58, of Gower.

The Missouri State Highway Patrol said Mr. Wilson had crossed the center line when his vision was impaired and he struck Ms. Ruoff as she was walking with a friend on the east side of the highway.

Wilson was found guilty of careless and imprudent driving and sentenced to two years probation.

About 70 pedestrians and killed and 1400 injured in Missouri in any given year.  One of the top goals in the Missouri Bicycle & Pedestrian Federation's Vision of Bicycling and Walking in Missouri is to cut the injury and fatality rate in half while simultaneously doubling the amount of bicycling and walking.

That is one reason MoBikeFed's 2011 Legislative Platform includes the Safe Streets initiative, which would provide more appropriate penalties for drivers whose bad and unsafe driving injures or kills others.

The good news is that the injury and fatality rate for pedestrians in Missouri is on a clear downward trend.  The bad news--as these examples show--is that despite the positive trend, far too many Missourians are being injured and killed on our state's roads and highways.  We're moving in the right direction but we still have a long way to go.

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