Two Middle School Students in Hospital After Crosswalk Collision

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Two Pleasant Hill Middle School students, both girls, were sent to the hospital with serious injuries today when a woman driving a Chrysler PT Cruiser struck both of them in a striped crosswalk. The crash threw one of the girls onto the hood of the vehicle, cracking its windshield. Despite sustaining serious injuries, they were expected to survive.

The girls, both aged 13, had been walking on an East Bay Municipal Utility District trail on their way to school when they reached the marked crosswalk between Eccleston and Manor Avenues around 8 a.m. The driver, who remained at the scene, told police she didn’t stop for the girls because her vision was impaired by the sun’s glare, according to Pleasant Hill Police Cpl. Matt Kristic. He said she did not appear to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol, but the victims undoubtedly had the right-of-way at the crossing. The speed limit on Oak Park Boulevard where the girls were struck is 25 miles per hour.

The collision comes amid a growing national conversation about providing safe routes for children to walk to school, barely a week before International Walk to School Day.

Students and teachers were shaken up by the violent collision. From CBS5’s report:

Staff members from Pleasant Hill Middle School, which is about a block from where the accident happened, responded to the scene and helped police contact the girls’ parents.

Crisis counselors were at the school to help students and teachers cope with what happened and the school’s principal was planning to send out an automated phone or email message to let parents of all students at the school know what happened, Dick Nicoll, interim superintendent of the Mount Diablo Unified School District, said.

  • Tony

    Glare should be no excuse. Drivers should flip down their visor or put on their sunglasses. I was almost hit crossing the street recently by someone turning left. The driver blamed the sun too.

  • ZA

    Terrible for those girls. I hope they recover in full health, mind & body, and keep on walking or wheeling as soon as they can.

    Regarding glare: that’s when I *slow down.*

    Request: comparative statistics. Numbers of collisions that sustain injuries in school-age children: ped-car vs. car-car. I expect the probability of collision is higher for cars (raw, by passenger-mile, per capita), but possibly better injury rates?

  • Trolley Dodger

    When you can’t see in front of your vehicle the speed limit is ZERO mph.

  • mrmagic

    This is an awful location that needs considerable improvements. I’m interested to see how the Cities of Pleasant Hill and Walnut Creek respond (since Oak Park is the boundary line and technically in Pleasant Hill) as well as EBMUD. At this crosswalk, a pedestrian activated signal should be installed like other locations along this same path network. There are high volumes of vehicles traveling above the speed limit.

    Additionally, just east of where this accident took place (you can see it in the streetview), there is a major sidewalk gap. This is a major deficiency given that there is a bus stop, multi-use path, shopping area, library and two schools within half a mile. Since this is within the City of Pleasant Hill jurisdiction, it needs to take ownership and fill this sidewalk gap.

  • Fran Taylor

    Incredibly, SFPD has typically accepted this “sun was in my eyes” excuse, prompting one to wonder how valid it would be if the sun-blinded driver had plowed into a cop car. In a creative variation some years back, police in South San Francisco excused a driver who had mowed down a pedestrian in a crosswalk during a rainstorm at night, saying glare from the streetlights had reflected off the wet pavement. Pedestrians, stay home at all times!

  • This story isn’t on SFGate, which is good because the commenters would undoubtedly blame it on the peds.

  • pete

    I live in this neighborhood and drive that road daily, and walk that crosswalk frequently. The driver had the sun in her eyes. Yup. Happens every clear morning going east, and every clear evening going west. Happens daily on Geary and Sunnyvale and Oak Park and Gregory too. That’s clearly part of the cause of this accident, but certainly no excuse. The kids had the right of way, yes, BUT THE KIDS ALSO contributed to this accident. From that crosswalk, with the sun in the drivers eyes, not theirs, they had a far better view of the car than it had of them. They may not have seen the car (didn’t look), or may have assumed it saw them or would stop. But these kids did indeed step into a crosswalk that was clearly being approached by a moving car.

    As a parent of young kids I have stood at this crosswalk explaining the danger of drivers who couldnt see into the sun. While in the car, I have shown them the poor visibility you get driving into the sun. They get it. I have shown them what the white lights mean on the back of cars. I have taught them to look at the driver as well as the car. If the driver is not looking at you, he cannot see you. If the driver IS looking at you, that only means he MAY see you.

    I am in no way suggesting that this in not the fault of the driver, and I wish these kids a full and swift recovery, BUT, C’MON PEOPLE YOU HAVE TO TEACH YOUR KIDS TO SAFELY CROSS THE STREET.

    REMEMBER –Stoplights, crosswalks and sidewalks DO NOT STOP CARS whose drivers dont see them.

  • The key is who the infrastructure is designed for. If cars are most important, than this situation exists. If pedestrians are most important, there would be a continual red light at this spot that only turns green 10 seconds after a car arrives, giving all pedestrians time to clear the road. And, of course, there are options in between these two extremes. We don’t have to do things the way we do them. We specifically, intentionally choose who gets the danger and who gets the inconvenience.

  • Nevermind, pedestrian guilt can be found right here on Streetsblog, as well!

  • pete

    Yes, Stuart, the pedestrians did step into the crosswalk, in front of the moving car. Guilty? No sir. I believe that the court will find fault with the driver who was likely driving too fast for the prevailing condition. (sun, and perhaps not a dry windshield. Peds had the right of way in the crosswalk. I drove by the same crosswalk in the same direction about 5 mins before the accident)

    There are some things that the city, state, better infrastructure, etc can do to help make things safer, sure, but the way to assure you don’t get run over in a crosswalk is to use your own eyes, ears and brain.

    As a frequent pedestrian, and the father of 2 young pedestrians, I must consider this from the pedestrian perspective. Could the pedestrians in this case (or other cases), INDEPENDENT of what the driver did, have prevented this accident? ABSOLUTELY.

    That’s the way I think, and that is the lesson I have taught my kids for years and will continue to teach them.



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