Police look to improve pedestrian safety after fatal wrecks

Police look to improve pedestrian safety after fatal wrecks (Image 1)

Clarksville police are creating a pedestrian safety release to let the public know about specific pedestrian laws and helpful ways to prevent being struck by a car.

Overnight Sunday, Tyler Wilsdorf, 23, was struck and killed on Interstate-24 as he attempted to flag for help after the car he was riding in got stuck in the median.

A driver struck Wilsdorf, who the Tennessee Highway Patrol said likely did not know he was standing in the roadway.

Across Middle Tennessee, there have been at least four recent fatalities involving vehicles and pedestrians, including Wilsdorf.

On January 8, Fayez Rizkalla, 72, of La Vergne, was struck and killed on Murfreesboro Pike.

According to police, Rizkalla was in the northbound lanes when a driver hit him.  The driver was not charged, and there was no indication that alcohol or drugs played a part in the accident.

On January 24 in Murfreesboro, MTSU student David “Ritt” Chitwood, 28, was hit and killed by a dump truck at Greenland Drive and Middle Tennessee Boulevard.

Chitwood, who used a wheelchair, died at Saint Thomas Rutherford Hospital.

On January 31, two teens were hit by a car on Towne Village Road. Logan Watkins, 18, died from his injured.  The second teen sustained minor injuries.

Metro police told News 2 that, on average, there were 64 wrecks involving pedestrians each month in 2012.

In 2013, the average dropped to 51 per a month, not all of which involved injuries.

Two major contributing factors to the collisions are the pedestrian either using alcohol or drugs or not using crosswalks in roadways.

At the busy intersection of 21st Avenue South and Scarritt Place, students at Vanderbilt University must navigate heavy traffic to cross the road.

Isaac Reeser learned the hard way in New York a few years ago, so he always obeys the walk and do not walk signals.

“I was hit by a taxi cab,” he said. “He just bumped me because I was jay walking. It was my fault.”

Reeser was not seriously injured during the incident, but he learned his lesson.

“This intersection, people kind of fly by here in the morning,” Reeser said. “I try to make sure only to walk when the walk sign is blinking.”

Helena Dagadu said sometimes students get into a rush and take their chances crossing the road, even when the “Do Not Walk” signal is flashing.

“As a student, you are usually in a hurry, so you may be tempted to cross even when the crosswalk doesn't have the walk sign,” she said. “But you have to look for cars, and you look both ways.”

Clarksville police said their release should be complete in the next few days.

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