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  Thursday July 31st, 2014    

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Winona had 64 pedestrian accidents in 10 years (03/03/2014)
By Chris Rogers


     Dots in the map mark pedestrian accidents since 2004. There were fatal accidents at Third and Main streets, Second and Main streets, and Liberty Street and Broadway. The City Council has requested a study of pedestrian safety on Broadway. So far, they have not gotten it.
Sergeant Thad Pool jumped out of his squad car and rushed toward the victim "She was lying east of the crosswalk, face down in a large puddle of blood coming from her head," Pool wrote in his report. "She was unconscious and had labored breathing."

Pool checked her pulse. It was faint. "Can you hear me?" he asked, holding his breath for the response. The woman groaned.

That was Broadway and Johnson Street in 2004. In the years since then, there have been at least 64 pedestrian accidents on Winona streets, according to police records requested by the Winona Post. Three of those accidents were fatal. Victims suffered injuries in 45 of them.

There were a few accidents caused by kids chasing a ball into the street or by bar patrons stepping into the road, but there were 39 accidents in which pedestrians were struck in the crosswalk, not including accidents in which pedestrians crossed against a light or were crossing a street at an intersection without a crosswalk.

In a few of those cases, snowy roads prevented drivers from braking in time. Other times, drivers said that the glare of the sun prevented them from seeing the victim. There were many instances in which drivers were making a turn and hit a pedestrian crossing the street they turned on to. Some of the drivers just did not see the person walking in front of them. Citations were rare.

Since 2004, there have been 116 accidents involving bicyclists and cars. There were several cases of bicyclists running into cars, running stoplights, or otherwise being clearly at fault. Many cases were less clear.

A surprising number of the accidents involved cyclists who were riding on the sidewalk being struck in the crosswalk. In some of the reports, cyclists entered the crosswalk without stopping. All told, 43 cyclists were hit in the crosswalk after riding on the sidewalk. Cars hit cyclists riding on the road (or vice versa) a total of 25 times. In numerous reports, it was unclear whether cyclists had been riding on the sidewalk or not.

In downtown Winona it is illegal to ride a bicycle on the sidewalk.

Seven cyclists riding on the sidewalk were hit by cars backing out of driveways. More were hit on the street by cars backing up. Five cyclists were "doored," that is, they ran into the doors of parked cars that were suddenly opened.

There was at least one fatal bicycle accident during that time: much-loved retired teacher Judy Whetstone died after being hit while riding her bike on Sarnia Street in 2011.

There may be more accidents that were not included in the records obtained by the Winona Post. Whetstone's accident, a notable fatality at Liberty Street and Broadway from 2012, and another accident at Liberty Street and Broadway, were accidentally excluded from the accident reports compiled by the Winona Police Department, city officials explained.

After a 74-year-old woman was seriously injured one of those accidents, a hit-and-run at Broadway and Liberty Street, Winona City Council members called for a study on pedestrian safety on Broadway and proposals for action the council could take to improve safety along the thoroughfare.

So far no proposals have been forthcoming.

The driver who left a woman in a pool of blood in 2004 sped off without stopping. She survived, and thanks to Sergeant Pool and others, the driver was later apprehended and charged. It does not always end that way. 

 

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