Four pedestrians hit in Decatur on Nov. 6, including 16-year-old who was fatally injuredFile Photo used for illustration purposes. Downtown Decatur. Photo by Dean Hesse.
Decatur, GA — Nov. 6 was a harrowing day for pedestrians in Decatur as police responded to four unrelated crashes, one of them fatal.
The crashes are a sign that the city needs to move urgently to make its streets safer, the head of a local pedestrian advocacy organization says.
A 16-year-old boy, identified as Kevin Valente of Scottdale, died after a driver hit him around 7:17 p.m. on Monday evening. The driver stayed at the scene.
“On Monday, November 6, 2023, at approximately 7:17 p.m., Decatur Police responded to the intersection of East College Avenue and Commerce Drive in reference to an accident involving a pedestrian,” Decatur Police Sgt. John Bender said. “Responding officers located a 16-year-old juvenile male who was struck by a vehicle. The juvenile succumbed to injuries sustained during the accident and is deceased. The Decatur Police Department’s Criminal Investigations Division is currently investigating the scene to determine the cause of the accident.”
It’s not clear if the driver will face any charges.
That was the fourth incident to occur that day, records provided by the police department show.
Here are the other incidents police responded to:
— Decatur Police responded to a crash involving a pedestrian in the 400 block of North Candler Street around 8:20 a.m. on Nov. 6.
“The accident investigation revealed a silver Jeep Wrangler was traveling southbound on North Candler Street,” Bender said. “The driver of the Jeep failed to yield to a pedestrian as they were turning left into a private driveway. The Jeep collided with the pedestrian, who sustained non-life-threatening injuries and was transported to an area hospital for treatment. The driver of the Jeep received a citation for failure to yield to a pedestrian.”
— On Monday, Nov. 6, at 1:54 p.m. police responded to the intersection of West Ponce de Leon Avenue and West Trinity Place after a driver hit a pedestrian.
“The accident investigation revealed the driver of a Ford Explorer was turning left onto West Trinity Place from West Ponce de Leon Avenue,” Bender said. “A pedestrian was crossing over West Trinity Place inside the crosswalk at the intersection. The Ford struck the pedestrian, causing the person to receive non-life-threatening injuries. The pedestrian was transported to an area hospital for treatment. The driver of the Ford was issued a citation for failure to yield to a pedestrian.”
The pedestrian in that case, Megan Dollar, said she was knocked out of the crosswalk.
“I was on a green light at the crosswalk, more than halfway through it, when all of a sudden this woman driving a black SUV suddenly just hit my leg,” Dollar said. “I flew into the air and landed on the ground. Luckily, no other cars were coming.”
The driver stayed on the scene and told Dollar she didn’t see her before hitting her.
Dollar said the number of pedestrian crashes reported on Nov. 6 alarmed her.
“It’s horrifying,” Dollar said. “I really wish that something was done about the driving situation … People just fly by. They’re not slowing down. They’re not paying attention. They’re not looking.”
— Less than an hour after that crash, police responded to another pedestrian hit at the intersection of Sycamore Street and East Ponce de Leon Avenue.
“The accident investigation revealed the driver of a Toyota Corolla was turning left onto Sycamore Street from East Ponce de Leon Avenue,” Bender said. “A pedestrian was crossing over Sycamore Street within the crosswalk at the intersection. The Toyota struck the pedestrian within the crosswalk, causing the pedestrian to sustain non-life-threatening injuries. The pedestrian was transported to an area hospital for treatment. The driver of the Toyota was issued a citation for failure to yield to a pedestrian.”
Crashes involving pedestrians in Atlanta were up in 2022 compared with prior years, Serna said. A full report, with Atlanta-specific data and information about DeKalb County, will be published soon, Serna said.
Serna said people need to change their attitudes when it comes to pedestrian safety, pointing to media headlines that focus on the traffic delays created by pedestrian crashes instead of focusing on the conditions that make such crashes more likely.
“We need to shift our mindset,” Serna said. “This is not an acceptable part of public life.”
She said elected officials, including Decatur’s, need to work to create safer streets.
“I need to see a sense of urgency to deliver projects that makes streets measurably safer, and unfortunately we don’t always see that,” Serna said.
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