LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Just one day after Louisville Metro received a $307,000 federal pedestrian safety grant a woman died trying to cross Second Street.
For hours on the morning of June 12, flashing lights drew the attention of onlookers to the foot of the Clark Memorial Bridge where police tape and officers blocked off what had become a crime scene.
"A cement truck that was traveling west on Main Street and attempted to make a right turn on to the bridge and apparently struck what appears to be a white female who was in the crosswalk trying to cross," said Dwight Mitchell, Louisville Metro Police Department spokesman.
The victim, identified as Ryann Tewell, 24, never made it across the street on her way to work at Humana. Instead, she was hit by a concrete truck operated by Louisville-based Advance Ready Mix. She died at the scene from her injuries. According to police, the truck driver was unaware of the accident.
"He didn't realize that he had struck her," said Mitchell. "He was flagged down by some other witnesses that saw it going on and did stop him."
The accident closed traffic on the bridge for hours as LMPD's traffic unit investigated the deadly collision.
"It looks like a very unfortunate accident at this point but the investigation continues," said Mitchell who said it was too soon to tell if charges would be pressed against the truck driver.
While the accident shocked many in the area, it turns out deadly pedestrian accidents are more common throughout the Metro than many people might think. In fact, fatal pedestrian accidents are so common they have earned Louisville Metro a federal grant to address the growing problem.
When Metro Engineering Project Coordinator Dirk Gowin learned of the deadly wreck, he was saddened but not surprised.
"In the past ten years, Louisville Metro has had 164 fatalities," said Gowin. "The average for those fatalities: 44 years old."
Gowin said the city averages about 16 deadly pedestrian accidents annually. However, that number has been on the rise.
"2008 was the highest year we ever had for fatalities and I think we had 23 in that year," said Gowin. "The last two years, we have bumped our numbers and it is very disappointing. We're trying to bring more and more focus to it."
Thanks to a grant recently awarded by the Department of Transportation's National Highway Safety Administration, city officials can now do just that by increasing pedestrian safety through education and enforcement.
"This is going to provide us with $307,000 that we are going to use over a three year period," said Gowin, who believed educating the target age group from 25 to 54 was key.
"It's called a pedestrian decoy sting. We'll have officers in plain clothes that will enter a crosswalk," said Gowin. "If the motorist fails to yield, then they will get on the radio and have an officer around the corner to remind them of their obligation to yield."
"Bardstown Road, of course, has a lot of traffic, a lot of parked vehicles, a lot of establishments that serve alcohol and a lot of those crashes are occurring at night," said Gowin. "Dixie Highway has a lot of dark roads and a lot of folks that wear dark clothing and higher speeds. Preston [Highway] is much like Dixie in that regard."
With main corridors like Bardstown Road, Dixie and Preston Highways identified as some of the most dangerous for pedestrians in the city, Gowin said staying safe is the responsibility of both motorists and pedestrians who can both cause accidents by being distracted.
"We have a large issue with jaywalking here as well," said Gowin. "We've got to be wiser in making our decisions."
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