Three Pedestrian Deaths In Recent Days

One by hit and run driver. “Accidents” underline need for more careful driving, walking, biking.

By , Wisconsin Bike Fed - Nov 13th, 2016 01:29 pm
Family members and friends were gathered outside the home of Rickyia Langham, next to a memorial that marks the location where she was killed in a hit-and-run crash.

Family members and friends were gathered outside the home of Rickyia Langham, next to a memorial that marks the location where she was killed in a hit-and-run crash.

Three tragedies on Milwaukee streets – in less than a week – delivered a stark reminder of the need  to slow down, watch out for our neighbors and make it safer for everyone on Wisconsin roadways.

The memorial for five-year-old Rickyia Langham on Leon Terrace.

The memorial for five-year-old Rickyia Langham on Leon Terrace.

On Thursday, a 17-year-old senior heading to Rufus King High School was hit and killed by a school bus while crossing W. Oklahoma Ave.

Sunday morning, a hit-and-run driver hit and killed Rickyia Langham as she crossed Leon Terrace near W. Hampton Ave. Langham was five years old, and hurrying to get ready for church with her mother.

Monday afternoon, as safety advocates and family members reeled from those tragedies, Milwaukee Police reported that a vehicle hit and killed a woman crossing the street near S. 60th St. and W. Norwich Ave. Authorities arrested a 27-year-old man who was driving the vehicle and will seek charges of operating a vehicle with a suspended license and causing death.

The crashes increased the number of people killed by motor vehicles while walking in Milwaukee this year to 12. In 2016, motor vehicles killed 18 pedestrians in the city, and 54 across the state.

Police continue to investigate all three tragedies, and have issued an alert seeking information about a 2002-2004 Porsche Cayenne believed to be the vehicle that crashed into Langham on a street with two speed bumps and a 15-mph speed limit. That traffic calming on Leon Terrace was installed to reduce speeding and cut-through traffic turning off W. Hampton Avenue, as drivers try to take a short cut to N. 60th Street, and avoid the signalized intersection.

Rickyia’s mother has said the the driver of the Porsche slowed, then sped up and hit her daughter.

Police recovered the Porsche late Monday night, arrested one person and continue to seek the person identified as the driver.

Important details that would clarify the causes of all three crashes remain unavailable to the public, but the tragedies unequivocally show that people driving motor vehicles need to remember that their actions may have lethal consequences. The responsibility to slow down and watch out for others should be prioritized ahead of speed and convenience, for the safety of everyone who drives, walks or rides a bicycle on our shared roadways.

The residents of Leon Terrace have had traffic calming installed because they have been dealing with traffic safety problems for a long time.

The residents of Leon Terrace have had traffic calming installed because they have been dealing with traffic safety problems for a long time.

With the recent fatalities in Milwaukee, 40 people have been killed this year while walking on roadways in Wisconsin. We are approaching a repeat of 2015, when 54 pedestrians were killed, representing a 22 percent jump from the previous year.

We should not accept as “accidents” the deaths of nearly 100 children, parents and neighbors over two years, especially knowing that preventing those deaths would cost almost nothing and require only a small effort. Slow down. Pay attention behind the wheel.

The facts about speed and distracted driving are clear enough to influence, and change behavior.

For example: It takes about 40 feet to stop a vehicle going 20 mph hour, and nearly twice that distance – 75 feet – with a bump up to 30 mph. Add another 10 mph, and the stopping distance grows to 120 feet and increases the risk of killing someone.

A driver who hits a person while going 40 mph will kill someone in 85 percent of the time. The fatality rate drops to 5 percent if the vehicle is traveling 20 mph.

People crossing streets can improve their safety by using crosswalks whenever possible, as corners are where people driving are trained to look for someone walking. More than half of the people killed while walking in Wisconsin in a three-year period were crossing between intersections. It is not illegal to cross mid-block, but people driving are less likely to expect someone to cross there, so take extra caution before you step into the motor vehicle travel lane if you are not in a crosswalk.

When we are behind the wheel, we should remember that the natural extension of every sidewalk from one corner to another is a crosswalk – whether it is marked or not. Drivers are required by law to yield to people entering and walking through crosswalks. When we are driving on residential streets, we need to watch out for people entering our path unexpectedly. It almost sounds patronizing to write that, but sadly, with the recent spate of fatal crashes, the warning is warranted.

Failure to yield to people in crosswalks is a significant cause of crashes and fatalities. Note, the extension of one sidewalk to another is still a crosswalk, even if there are no pavement markings.

Failure to yield to people in crosswalks is a significant cause of crashes and fatalities. Note, the extension of one sidewalk to another is still a crosswalk, even if there are no pavement markings.

Of course, people crossing streets need to allow a reasonable time for a motorist to slow or stop too. Although people can’t legally dart into the road in front of a motor vehicle even in a crosswalk, we certainly don’t want to end up driving a car and kill someone trying to cross the street, even if they should have been more careful and the crash is not our fault. The speed limit on most neighborhood side streets is 25mph, but sometimes we have to drive even slower than that if there are people out, especially kids.

Through the Share and Be Aware Program and the Safe Routes to School Program, the Wisconsin Bike Fed works to make walking safer for everyone. Safer streets for walking and biking increase our independence and make our neighborhoods more vibrant and engaging. Every year in communities across the state, our Share and Be Aware Ambassadors and Bike Walk Instructors teach thousands of kids and adults how to more safely walk, bike and drive in our classes and through our encouragement programs.

Remember, “most of us find ourselves traveling by foot at some point each day,” notes Jennifer Laack, Pedestrian/Bicycle Safety Program Manager in the Wisconsin Department of Transportation. When we are behind the wheel, it behooves us to remember, “there but for the grace of God go I.”

Categories: Public Safety

13 thoughts on “Three Pedestrian Deaths In Recent Days”

  1. Nancy Tegeder says:

    My sister, Shelly Jarvey, was the woman who was struck and killed on 60th and Norwich last Monday at 2:20pm in broad daylight. She was only 53 years old

  2. mbradleyc says:

    Some kids like to play in traffic. I nearly hit a kid on a bike in Kenosha once because he rode his bike right at me as I was turning into the street at a blind intersection and was focused the other way. He was laughing at me.

    Sometimes too, people seem to like to wait until the last moment and then they step out in front of cars to cross the street illegally.

    Somehow there is a flaw in Darwin’s theory. We never seem to be rid of stupidity.

  3. Nancy Tegeder says:

    Wow- most people that read things like this, are pro safety for all.

    The driver that hit my sister has a suspended license for driving 35+ over the speed in June. He also had no insurance and his car wasn’t registered. He claims he was sneezing and didn’t see her. These are the facts.

    Your story about a group of disrespectful kids is irrelevant to my sisters fatal accident, as well as to the other innocent people that died this week. Your comments are also very disrespectful- which it seems you intended. Good for you

  4. AG says:

    Nancy, I am so sorry for your loss. I can only imagine what you and your family is going through.

    For drivers, many do not understand that pedestrians have the right of way in crosswalks. We should have more campaigns to educate drivers (and targeted enforcement by police in certain places). We also need to make sure walkers are being safe as well… for some reason, in some parts of the city, there are people who walk out into the street outside of cross walks and expect drivers to yield the same as they would if they were in a cross walk (the drivers should, to save a life… but the pedestrian shouldn’t plan on it for their own preservation).

    Finally, a question for the bike fed, or anyone who knows. If there is an intersection where one of the streets are slightly offset so that the eastern sidewalk aligns with the western sidewalk on the other side of the intersection, is that still a cross walk?

  5. AG says:

    By the way, how old is that braking distance data? My ho-hum family sedan does 60-0 in a tested 113 ft.

  6. Barbara says:

    In the UWM area, I am regularly alarmed by a kid, dressed in black, crossing very busy Oakland Ave. in front of my car at night, while I have oncoming headlights in my eyes. Sometimes I’m not entirely sure that’s what I saw – there’s just a sort of quick blur, and I brake. People need to be aware that conditions at night are very different for drivers. I hope and pray that I always see them first.

    It will be my fault if I happen to hit the kid, of course. I watch for them carefully, especially at night. And this is very different from the situations described above, where drivers are clearly being irresponsible.

  7. Joe says:

    After living in Chicago for 6 years, I moved back to Milwaukee last year. One thing I’ve noticed is the incredible intolerance many motorists seem to have for pedestrians, even in the city proper. When walking on the south side, or downtown, I have to pay extra attention even when I have the right of way to ensure that vehicles are actually going to stop and not hit me. Many times, they slam on their brakes and react in a very frustrated manner. I have to wonder if the stronger “car culture” that exists in Milwaukee when compared to areas that are more tolerant of public transit is to blame.

    Stories like this are deeply saddening and when you observe how people drive around here it really isn’t even surprising, which is terrible.

  8. Barbara says:

    I have to agree, Joe. I was honked at for walking in a pedestrian crosswalk at UWM by a driver who didn’t even have to slow down for me. He revved it up as he passed me, too. If that had happened in L.A. where my son lives, he would have been stuck with a really hefty fine. In fact, my son taught me not even to step off the curb while waiting for a break in the traffic, because drivers in both directions will slam on their brakes and it could cause an accident.

  9. Nancy Tegeder says:

    I am a runner and walk my dogs a lot. I’m not in the city, but where we live we don’t have sidewalks and the roads are narrow with very little shoulder. I have learned we need to assume that drivers don’t see us and act accordingly. I always tell my kids this. And as drivers, I think we are always looking out for other vehicles, but not pedestrians in most areas. How my sister was hit is unknown- for some reason they did not see each other. I do believe that speed is an issue with many of these unfortunate incidents. We all need to slow down

  10. Justin says:

    The driving in MKE has become noticeably worse in the last 10 years. The lack of respect for pedestrians, cyclists, red lights, and speed limits is astounding to me. I won’t even get started with the insanity of people using the bus and bike lanes to make passes on the right! Until we start enforcing traffic laws, this will only get worse.

  11. Anne Fleury says:

    Crosswalks? Are you kidding me? Crossing KK in a clearly marked crosswalk is like playing chicken with the traffic. Never seems to be enforced until something happens. I wrote to my alderman, but have yet to receive a response. Go figure.

  12. blurondo says:

    Justin has clearly stated the case. Drivers have taken the attitude that I’m going to do what I want and you had better get out of my way. This includes running stop signs and red lights.

  13. Hereiam says:

    @Justin I agree regarding the quality of driving.

    I have also noticed bus drivers, police officers, and other official drivers who employ these same illegal driving maneuvers. It would be great if MCTS, MPD and our other gov’t agencies could strictly require its own drivers to follow the law. Perhaps they could provide a public call in line/app where infractions could be reported. Once the gov’t officials start following the law they would be in a much better position to start cleaning the streets of this careless driving.

    Pedestrian deaths are a consequence of this culture of careless driving.

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