A helicopter clattering over the neighborhood Wednesday morning foretold news of a tragedy - the death of a young child and a mother's serious injury when both were struck by a car at Park and Second.
Details were few yesterday, but it reminded me of a near-miss a couple of days ago at Park and Seventh. A driver was so intent on beating the oncoming traffic when the light changed that he gunned the engine for a left turn onto Park. Meanwhile, a young woman had started across the street and I was right behind her. She narrowly missed getting hit by the speeding car. I stopped in my tracks and let loose an expletive, which is getting to be a frequent reaction when trying to negotiate that intersection. It already has a reputation as one of the most dangerous in Union County and it has special cameras for that reason.
We must wait on results of an investigation to learn what happened at Park and Second, but I can tell you why pedestrians in general are endangered. Many drivers are so impatient that they can't stand to wait to turn left safely. Sometimes two or three drivers turn left after the light changes, because they feel entitled to do so. Mere human pedestrians are no match for 4,000 pounds of metal (or even plastic) hurtling at high speed around a turn. I have waited through many a traffic light change just to avoid being in the crosswalk when drivers get up to such stunts.
Unfortunately, what the older generation calls "common courtesy" has become less common or nonexistent when it comes to driver-pedestrian interactions. It's bad enough at traffic lights, but worse at unmarked corners. Even though the city created four-way stops at several intersections, now they will be augmented with flashing lights to remind drivers to be considerate of others. Someone suggested that the city just try for actual traffic lights at some intersections, but if Park and Seventh is any example, drivers may run the lights anyway.
Our condolences to the family on the loss of the child and we hope the mother pulls through. Sometimes these things cannot be explained, and the outcome is simply sorrow all around. Still, this accident is a sad reminder for pedestrians to be cautious - and for drivers to be alert and considerate at all times.