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Pedestrian hit, seriously injured at downtown intersection

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81-year-old accident victim is in good spirits, family says

By The Staff

Helen Smith, 81, of Lebanon is recuperating at the University of Louisville Hospital after being struck by a lumber truck in downtown Lebanon Tuesday afternoon, June 29.

The accident occurred at the intersection of Main Street and Spalding Avenue (near the Lebanon Post Office) at approximately 1 p.m.

According to the accident report, Dusty Shofner, 48, of Mount Sherman, was driving a 2002 General Motors truck belonging to Don's Lumber & Hardware of Vine Grove south on North Spalding Avenue and had stopped at the red light just before the crosswalk. While the light was still red he checked both ways for oncoming traffic and began to start making a right turn. While easing out on the clutch he told police he immediately felt something hit the front of his truck and he stopped. Smith was crossing the street walking toward the Lebanon Post Office when she was struck. Shofner told police he never saw Smith in the crosswalk.

Marion County EMS and Marion County Sheriff deputies responded to the scene where Smith was found conscious and alert, but had numerous injuries to her upper body. She was transported to Spring View Hospital's helipad and flown to University of Louisville Hospital where she continues to be treated for her injures. But, according to family members, she is in great spirits and doing well.

Shofner was also treated at the scene and transported to Spring View Hospital where he was treated and released.

Child struck by vehicle...

On Wednesday at approximately 1:45 p.m., a child was struck by a vehicle on Hood Avenue.

According to the police report, Cassandra Spalding, 39, of 226 North Forest Street in Lebanon was driving a 2007 Suzuki Forenza east on Hood Avenue. When approaching Forest Street, a young juvenile ran out in front of her vehicle. Spalding told police she attempted to stop but was unable to before she hit 3-year-old Brendon Howell of 369 Kennedy Lane in Lebanon. According to the report, Howell's mother stated that she was parked on the north side of Hood Avenue and she let her son out of he back of the vehicle and then went to the other side of the vehicle to get her other child out. During that time, her son ran across the street. When officers arrived, no one was on scene. The child was taken, by private vehicle, to Spring View Hospital where he was treated and released.

Pedestrian motor vehicle crash statistics...

Accidents involving pedestrians are, by no means, an epidemic locally, but last week's incidents should definitely make pedestrians and drivers more cautious, especially when approaching and crossing crosswalks. In fact, last week was a grim reminder of an accident that occurred in January of 2004, when Ryan Windham, 63, of Raywick died after being hit by a truck at the intersection of Proctor Knott Avenue and Main Street. Windham was struck while walking through the crosswalk, heading south on Proctor Knott Avenue.

The most important thing for drivers to remember is that pedestrians have the right-of-way in a crosswalk, Mark Brown, of the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet's public affairs office, said.

"Drivers need to pay careful attention when they are approaching a crosswalk," he said.

And although intersections represent a very small percentage of U.S. roads, more than one in five pedestrian deaths are the result of a collision with a vehicle at an intersection, according to the Federal Highway Administration.

The most recent statistics available from the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet show that, from 2005 through 2007, there were more than 4,000 collisions involving a bicycle or pedestrian in the state, which resulted in more than 3,500 injuries and 174 fatalities.

In the United States in 2008, 4,378 pedestrians were killed and 69,000 were injured in traffic crashes, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. On average, a pedestrian is killed in a traffic crash every 120 minutes and injured in a traffic crash every eight minutes.

Pedestrian deaths are highest for the elderly. Pedestrians, ages 65 and older, accounted for 18 percent of all pedestrian fatalities and an estimated 10 percent of all pedestrians injured in 2008.

And while the statistics are alarming, pedestrian motor vehicle crash deaths have declined dramatically since 1975. However, they still account for 12 percent of crash deaths, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. One reason for the decline, however, is increased illumination and improved signal timing at intersections.

Lebanon Police Chief Joe Bell said he believes improved signal timing could help make conditions safer for pedestrians in downtown Lebanon and plans to investigate that further.

The transportation cabinet's guidelines call for pedestrian signals at crosswalks, which are in place at the crosswalks in Lebanon. But, in some instances, the cabinet's traffic engineers will look to see if there are steps they can take to improve safety. Brown said engineers could study the crosswalks at the intersections of Main Street and Spalding Avenue and Proctor Knott Avenue and Main Street to see if anything else can be done to improve safety.

"Safety is our No. 1 concern," Brown said. "Our engineers will take a look to see if there is anything else that is feasible for us to do to improve safety at those locations.

Engineers take into account several things when analyzing intersections for further safety measures including past accident history, traffic count, how heavily pedestrians use that intersection, etc., Brown said.

"Our engineers continually look for improvements we can make to further safety not only for motorists but for pedestrians as well," Brown said.

IMPORTANT SAFETY REMINDERS

• Drivers are required to yield the right-of-way to pedestrians crossing the streets in marked or unmarked crosswalks in most situations. Pedestrians need to be especially careful at intersections where the failure to yield right-of-way often occurs when drivers are turning onto another street and a pedestrian is in their path.

• When possible, cross the street at a designated crosswalk. Always stop and look left, right and left again before crossing. If a parked vehicle is blocking the view of the street, stop at the edge line of the vehicle and look around it before entering the street.

• Increase visibility at night by carrying a flashlight when walking and by wearing retro-reflective clothing that helps to highlight body movement.

• It is much safer to walk on a sidewalk, but if you must walk in the street, walk facing traffic.

* Source: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration