Parents raise concerns about traffic safety after son hit while crossing busy intersection
Theresa Leville Fong got a call from her son just after the school day ended Monday, Dec. 7.
A ninth grader at Woodbury High School, Eddie Fong told his mother he'd be walking home from school that day, less than a one-mile trip on foot.
Eddie arrived home a little later than his mother expected, with fresh cuts and bruises on his face. His glasses were broken and he was writhing in pain.
He told his mother he had been hit by a car while crossing Lake Road near a crosswalk at Wyndham Way.
According to a police report filed shortly thereafter, Eddie said he thought the traffic pattern was clear and he ran across the intersection when he heard a horn sound. A westbound vehicle struck him in the intersection. A woman inside the vehicle stopped to see if he was okay. Eddie said he told the woman he was fine. The woman told him to be more careful next time and then drove off, he told police.
Because his glasses flew off his face during the impact, he couldn't make out a description of the driver or the vehicle, the police report states
A trip to the emergency room determined Eddie had suffered a broken collar bone.
His mother was left with a conflicted sense of relief and frustration following the incident.
"I don't think this person who hit my son knew how hurt he was," Leville Fong said, acknowledging her son has one functioning kidney that was unharmed in the impact. "Thankfully it wasn't worse. It could have been."
State law requires that any driver involved in an injury accident with a pedestrian must notify police, said Lee Vague, director of the Woodbury Public Safety Department.
"It doesn't sound as if (the woman involved in the accident) fulfilled her obligation to contact the police," Vague said.
The east side of the intersection at Wyndham Way and Lake Road features one marked crosswalk running from north to south. The crosswalk is a few hundred yards south of the Woodbury High School campus, where many students who live in the neighborhoods just south of Lake Road walk home each day.
Because of its proximity to the school, the intersection has been a topic of discussion over the years for parents, school officials and a Woodbury Public Safety citizen's traffic committee, said Vague, who acknowledged the presence of ninth graders at Woodbury High School for the first time this fall (after District 833 switched to the middle school grade configuration) has increased pedestrian traffic around the school during peak automobile traffic periods.
"Any time when you have kids crossing a busy road it's a cause for concern," Vague said.
Woodbury police patrol officers monitor the intersection from time to time, he added. That stretch of Lake Road has a 35 mph posted speed limit.
The single crosswalk on the east side of the Lake-Wyndham intersection does not have a stop sign or lighted traffic signals. It features a yellow sign directing vehicles to yield to pedestrians as they enter the intersection.
On a recent Thursday afternoon, an intermittent stream of students could be seen walking and sometimes running across Lake to beat approaching traffic from both directions.
On that particular day nearly every student crossing Lake Road did so on the west side of the intersection, about 40 feet west of the crosswalk. Sometimes the traffic would yield. Other times the vehicles would drive on through and students would stop in the middle of the road.
Woodbury High School principal Linda Plante said she made an announcement to students after learning of the Dec. 7 alleged "hit and run" accident. She said her message focused on reminding students walking to and from school to be mindful of traffic.
Plante said school officials did not anticipate the addition of ninth graders would increase traffic and pedestrian volumes around the school to levels it has this fall.
"We have a number of kids who can't drive who are walking to and from school," Plante said. "And we have a number of parents picking them up at school. It's just added up to kind of a mess."
Plante said school officials are discussing those issues with the district's traffic safety official.
The Fong family contacted the city to address their concerns about the safety of the intersection. City engineer Aaron Nelson replied in a letter stating the city will continue to monitor the area for traffic and vehicle safety.
The city has plans to add a new crosswalk along with other scheduled improvements to that stretch of Lake Road as a part of a rehabilitation that will begin next year, Nelson wrote in the letter.