Tuesday, August 28, 2012
Minivan Hits Female Staples Runner
A minivan struck a 15-year-old female member of the Staples High School Cross-Country Track team today, causing what police said were non-life-threatening injuries.
The accident occurred at 3:58 p.m. at Long Lots Road near Peabody Lane, said Sgt. Richard Frazier who happened to be nearby at Hyde Lane talking to a school crossing guard.
The girl, who was not identified, was transported by Westport EMS to Norwalk Hospital accompanied by her coach, he said. There were no other injuries and the driver did stop at the scene, Frazier said.
The group of six girls and their coach were running eastbound on the shoulder of the westbound lanes as required, he said.
The incident is still under investigation but police said alcohol and speed were not contributing factors to the accident.
“Additional school staff responded to the scene to assist,” Frazier said. “Bystanders and witnesses were at the scene helping the Police Department with the investigation.”
Police reminded drivers that this is a busy time with an increased presence of pedestrians, bicyclists and students waiting at bus stops or walking and running on Westport roads.
“Please drive safely and be aware of others using the roadway,” Frazier said.
Comments: Comment Policy
I have long wanted to call the staples coaches to complain about the poor running etiquette of the kids and the danger that they pose to themselves and drivers. They are usually 3-4 across the road - often running with traffic (instead of facing traffic). When I stop and point out to them that they are not running safely they are usually quite rude to me - often a YEAH YEAH YEAH response. I am quite surprised that this has not happened before this.
Coaches - maybe more supervision is needed? Light is going to be leaving us earlier and earlier and the risk increases then.
How about running on any of the $5M school tracks, that collect dust? It must be because they are far too level, boring, safe, close, not viewed by others, uncool, off-limits…private. But surely far safer than any road. Running/training/exercise is about fitness, focus and progress, not personal vanity. I myself opt for the treadmill. In private. Have seen far too many close calls around this town. Jogger, walker and cyclist. In groups or packs especially. Its just a matter of time…
I hope a speedy and healthy recovery for the injured girl.
Wow, Damon, how many facts can you get wrong in one comment? The sport is called cross-country, not track, for a reason. When was the last time you saw a hill on a track? Second, the only real track in *all* of Westport (as opposed to tar/concrete with a few lines on it) is the Staples track, which hasn’t been redone in more than a decade. And when it is, it will only be resurfaced to get rid of the bubbles and rips currently in it. I gather you think bikers should also switch their 20 mile rides to a stationary bike for safety? Or perhaps vanity? To criticize others for enjoying the fresh air and scenery because it might interfere with a car now and then is a classic.
The Staples Cross Country teams have been coached quite competently for decades by the legendary Laddie Lawrence, who also runs the Roadrunners summer series for the grown-ups. I can’t remember an accident involving the teams in many years, if ever. The roads in town are not just for cars and while the kids need to be mindful of traffic they have just as much right to roads as the vehicles and their drivers. Drivers have a higher responsibility to be aware of what’s on the road as they are driving potentially lethal weapons.
Accidents are accidents. When cars and runners and bikers share the road, things like this happen. The best thing we can do as drivers, runners and bikers is to be as cautious as we can. Drivers, slow down. If you come upon someone running or biking on the side of the road give them a wide berth. Bikers and runners use that side of the road that you’re required to (bikers with traffic, runners against), and stay as far to your right as the road will allow. Lastly BE VISIBLE. Wear reflective gear, lights, etc. I can’t tell you how many times I’m out running at dusk and I’m wearing a reflective vest and a light and I’ll see another runner wearing nothing at all that would alert a car to their presence. The cars cannot see you. Especially in the early morning, early evening and night time.
Jeff, the only fact that is being missed here is the fact that not all drivers can be relied on to avoid a biker or jogger, or walker for that matter. Accidents happen and one will set the tone for you or anyone as an athlete. And over the past few years I have seen my share of accidents. Not pretty. Just last week a biker, waiting at a red light lost his balance and fell over on a car waiting at the same red light. Drivers, walkers, bikers all assume risk sharing a roadway. But in the end, which one do you think wins? (see woman on razor scooter killed in NYC Monday from tractor trailer). Horrific. The property/grounds/terrain at Staples and BMS seem pretty hilly to me to get good outdoor fresh air work out, somewhat better protected from moving vehicles and the pollution associated with them. It doesn’t matter the sport, or recreation, the workout or devoted time needs to be safe. My H.S had a cross country path on campus for that exact purpose. Where’s ours? Enjoying fresh air is certainly enjoyable. No doubt. Everyone wants and needs that sense of freedom and satisfaction. But assuming others are always paying attention to you is the true “classic” part. Again, I wish the young girl well in her recovery and my best to those witnessed it.
As the mother of 2 cross country runners I am tired of drivers speeding, talking on cell phones and texting while driving. Runners, walkers and cyclists have every right to use the roadways and should not be confined to a treadmill as one poster suggested. The runners need to be given a wide berth . We do not need to deal with a situation like the one in Norwalk where a young girl killed a jogger because she was texting. I have taught my children to pay attention and follow the rules of the road… .part of the reason these runners are 3 -4 abreast is because they are trying to force drivers to slow down and take notice. Drivers need to SLOW DOWN and GET OFF THE PHONE!!!
More often than not runners and walkers seem to ignore the once ironclad rule: walk or run against the traffic. Accidents can still happen as evidenced by this group which was doing it right. However, there are so many school runners who violate the rule I question how well their coaches are instilling the message before the runners take to the road.
Damon you are completely ignorant to any aerobic sport it is embarrassing. You try getting out of your car and running on these roads. Believe me, you will drive a lot slower the next time you see a runner. You gotta respect these kids for what they’re out there doing. It’s impossible for them to run their daily 10 plus miles around Staples and Bedford. Be realistic. They’ve been running the same routes since Laddie ran for Staples. They’re always gonna be out there. Westport drivers are the biggest selfish schmucks there are. You can’t honestly believe that the 15 year old girl was the aggressor in this situation.
I hope the police check the driver’s cellphone call and text records. Drivers don’t just run into pedestrians in broad daylight and good weather for no reason.
You can’t even walk across the street, in the crosswalk, mind you, between CVS and Trader Joe’s w/o taking your life into your hands. **Yes, the person who’s been cyber stalking me, I do all my shopping in Westport, so I’d appreciate it if you’d knock it off. Meaning, I use the roadways, etc.**
As to the drivers, etc., yes, they’re rude and schmucks, John and they refuse to put down their phones b/c they’ve way more important things to discuss other than actual driving. I do hope this young girl’s ok. That being said, it is going to be getting dark, soon, so it would be prudent to begin wearing bright clothing, or as someone else suggested, reflective vests, so us drivers can see them. Once in a while, I do see runners wearing dark clothing at dusk; not so safe.
It was my friend who was killed in Norwalk by the girl texting. What she was doing just couldn’t wait.
Though I agree that the kids have the right to run on the roads some of the roads are just way too dangerous.
I lived on Bayberry just below Cross Highway for years. The road has no shoulder and cars fly down it. A few times when I had brought my car up to be serviced at Christies I have walked home down Bayberry. It was pretty scary. I basically had to be prepared to jump in the bushes since the cars were so close. The lower part of Bayberry (below Baldwin) isn’t bad but if you’re running/biking/walking between Baldwin and Cross Highway it’s really dangerous.
The rule I have always heard is that the pedestrian has the right of way. If I recall, it is also written in the state Driver’s Manual.
It is good for our young people—and older ones, too, for that matter—to seek fitness. Being out in the open running or biking is a valid route towards that goal.
Of course, “defensive running” is wise: bright and/or refractive colors, awareness (low volume or better yet no earphones at all), facing traffic unless there’s a good reason like a blind curve, not to, et al. It makes it easier for the driver to drive properly, and of course it is makes sense for the runner. It is incredible that driver hit a girl and shamefully disappeared—as if there might not even have been a need for help.
Please, if you have any doubts as to the correctness of runners on the road: What if the victim had been walking?
Perhaps it would increase safety to have our Police Department increase speed patrols along the roads our students use.
I hope the girl recovers fully and soon.
I am a runner (as well as my children that run cross country) and can point to countless occasions when reckless drivers have either driven me off the road or nearly hit me Despite this I am shocked at the comments posted above (Marcy) that suggest runners are at fault for running three abreast. Pedestrians always have the right of way - so either give the runners/walkers a wide birth or you will be facing criminal penalties . The roads are there for everybody to enjoy . Given the growing propensity of drivers to hit pedestrians we may need to look at increasing criminal penalties for collisions with helpless pedestrians – God forbid a runner should force a Westport driver to slow down on his/her way to Starbucks for a latte .
Michelle - since you are a runner you might be interested in the Road Runners Etiquette for Runners -
“In the interest of promoting an enjoyable running and racing experience for everyone, the Road Runners Club of America encourages good runners’ etiquette. Whether running in a group or running alone, always follow the RRCA Safety Guidelines.
Whatever the pace, wherever the race, manners matter.
Rules of the road and trails
Run against traffic if running on the road. If running on the sidewalk or multi-use trails, travel on the right and pass on the left.
Never run more than two abreast if you are running in a group. Don’t be a road or trail hog.
Don’t run down the middle of the road or trail.
If you are running an out-and-back route, don’t just make a sudden u-turn at your turn around point. Stop, step to the right to allow oncoming traffic the opportunity to pass. Ensure the road or trail is clear of oncoming traffic (runners, cyclists, in-line skaters, etc.) then make your u-turn. Making a sudden u-turn without looking over your shoulder is a good way to get hit.
Alert pedestrians when you are passing them – don’t assume they are aware of their surroundings. A simple “on your left” warning will suffice.
Be alert on blind curves.
Stop at stop signs and ensure oncoming traffic yields to you before proceeding across a road. Don’t assume cars will stop if you are entering a cross walk.
Respect private property along your route. Don’t relieve yourself in the neighbor’s bushes.
Don’t litter. If you can’t find a trash can, carry your trash home.”
Observing the teen runners from the school and many others - these rules are NOT being followed. This is especially true on Bayberry lane - between easton road and cross highway and on Cross Highway between Bayberry Lane and North Avenue.
As a resident of Wesport from 1993 - 2007, with three children who were athletes and graduates of Staples, and who lived off of Cross Highway between North Avenue and Bayberry Lane, I support Marcy Puklin. Although not all runners run three and four abreast while not facing traffic, it was more the norm than not when I was a resident. I remember countless times saying to myself, why have parents not taught their kids to walk/run facing traffic, and single-file if necessary on a busy street. Yes, pedestrians have the right of way, but how about some common sense and safety precautions? I also wish the injured student a speedy recovery and hope that this is the last accident of its kind.
Unfortunately, Marcy, I do not have enough room to quote the CT State Driver’s Manual…how many violations are happening every minute by drivers? I guess you hold runners to a higher standard?
A young girl has been hit by a careless driver .... end of story ... stop trying to justify careless drivers. Your justifications are no comfort to the families of people who are hurt by these drivers.
I wish the girl a speedy recovery and hope that the general public will wake up and drive more carefully.
*So, I don’t get stalked, again, I was a Westport resident from 1980 until the last few years. Am currently residing a stone’s throw from the Birch Rd. Ext.* Please excuse the disclaimer, but it’s necessary.
The arguing takes the eye off the ball, if you will, which is the main reason this young girl was hit in the first place, imo. What other reason could there be? Who knows what the exact distraction was. The reason my friend, Ken is dead is b/c of texting. That’s a fact.
The point here is, we as drivers need to give our full attention to the road while we are driving. In that split second where we decide to do something else, it can be a matter of life and death. If someone feels it necessary to send me a nasty message via FB b/c of what I just said, please do.
In the interim, I hope this young lady not only recovers from her injuries and rejoins her team, but has no fear of running on the roads.
John, for what its worth, I do and have enjoyed a bike ride many times along the town roads, and have seen all that everyone sees. Certain risk and danger. (driver, jogger, etc.) No one is immune. And when I do bike, my alertness/awareness is at high. I do respect the kids for what they have to do to train and get in shape. I just wish our town had a better plan for them that takes them out of harms way. Were cell-phones and texting around when Laddie was running? As a CDL driver, in one of the toughest States, I do not consider myself in the gross generalization that you put all Westport drivers in, but have and always do use the utmost caution and courtesy when driving, anywhere, not just Westport. And have been honked at several times, in many towns for being too courteous, when granting bike packs, or runners extra time or space to move along safely. And at times, I’ve seen faults on their part too, that need to be adjusted. Common sense stuff. Living on main road heading towards train, yeah I see it all. Believe me. Driving is not a tunnel visioned sport, but is to some people. (whether a car or bike). And I never did or would ever assume the girl was the aggressor. Sorry to break your stride there. I am always concerned for the pedestrian when I read of these incidents. And stated sympathy for all involved, twice, in my prior entries. (I was hit in a parking lot when I was 17 and never forgot it.) Bottom line, when on the roadway, risk is assumed, situation become dangerous at times and everyone on the road or parking lot, must be aware and smart of their speed, visibility, space and courtesy to others in their zone.
I think everyone is on the same page here, which is that runners and bikers should be able to return home safely each time they go out running or riding.
It might help some drivers to think that the runner or biker beside them on the road might be somebody they know.
As a form of defense, runners and bicyclists would be wise to stack the odds in their favor in every way possible.
It’s really too bad we can’t safely assume that whenever someone sits a wheel that person will always be both courteous and alert.
While we all must share the road, it is important for speeders to slow down and it is also important to those on foot or bicycle to remember that they take the risk in running, jogging, etc. on high traffic roads. Even though it is said pedestrians have the right away, many times I see walkers, runners, bike riders going two - three wide on the road, which is not safe and abuse of using the road in that manner. When in groups, they should and must use it single file; common sense. There is no need to go two-three wide just to talk with each other. I would think there are less traveled roads to bike, run, etc. than the more heavily traveled roads. The risk is more to the persons not driving and they should take precautions and use the roads wisely and be more considerate of traffic.
I have driven, walked and biked the roads of Westport for 18 years and find the vast majority of people using the roads to be reasonable. For the unreasonable, I offer this suggestion – please stop considering bicyclists, runners and pedestrians as annoyances or obstacles to maintaining your speed.
I agree with the sentiment that the key is the driver’s attitude. Consider for a moment that most of the roads in Westport were here decades before the car was invented. I’m sure the wagon drivers, horseback riders, bicyclists and pedestrians were squabbling back then.
Attitudes can and do change. In the 70’s I bicycled across the Netherlands and England. In Holland my chin would drop when a large truck would come to halt so I could proceed on a bike path. I saw young mothers riding with 2 or 3 young kids side by side on town roads (not plastered to edge of the road). Cars simply waited until it was safe to pass and went around them.
This summer my wife and I were in Portland, OR for two weeks. Again I was astounded the respect drivers give to bicyclists. Drivers commonly wait and wave you through intersections on side streets. There are bike paths, bike lanes and roads where traffic is slowed by speed humps (or in some cases dead ended as means to control traffic speed).
The attitude shift I would like to see is that drivers consider pedestrians, runners and bicyclists as people that are:
- trying to stay healthy (to lower Medicare and insurance costs)
- reducing their carbon footprint (leaving more gas for you and keeping the air fresher and the climate cooler)
- providing you with even less traffic than if we were all in cars
And if all that fails, consider how much time you will lose in court or how many sleepless nights you will have if you hit someone.
I pray that this young woman is able to regain full mobility and does not lose a foot from this. I’m thankful that something far worse didn’t occur. I’d love to see an update on the young woman’s health. How is the driver handling this? Surely the event must be traumatic for him/her as well. Why haven’t we heard more?
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