Pedestrians express concerns about safety on road where fatal crash happened

Posted at 7:28 PM, Jul 13, 2017
and last updated 2018-07-24 21:30:55-04

Pedestrians are expressing concerns about safety after an elderly woman died while trying to cross a state-maintained road.

Waco Police said 88-year-old Luddie Hubert crossed three northbound lanes of traffic and was standing in the center lane of Valley Mills Drive. A vehicle stopped in the fast lane traffic and was allowing that pedestrian cross in front of them.

“When she got just passed them, a vehicle that was coming in the center lane had no way of seeing the woman. The woman, unfortunately, stepped in front of a moving vehicle and was struck. It wasn't the truck driver's fault that hit her. There's nothing he could do. She was right there,” Waco Police Spokesman Sgt. Swanton said.

He added there have been crashes like this before on highways where there are seven lanes of traffic.

"We've had crashes where pedestrians have been trying to cross the road. It doesn't happen too frequently but one is too many,” Swanton said.

He added the best place for crossing would be in a pedestrian zone or at an intersection keeping safety in mind.

Waco Walks Founder Ashley Thornton who walks on Valley Mills Drive at least once a week said crossing that road can be scary, even at an intersection with stop lights or walk signals.

"Technically the safety is there but the problem is nobody driving on that road expects to see someone walking there. They're not looking out for you,” Thornton said.

Jesse Pearson who has worked for three years at the intersection of Valley Mills Drive and Sanger Avenue. In that area, there is a button pedestrians can push to cross the busy road. However, there is no walking signal to let pedestrians know when it is safe to cross.

"It makes me feel nervous. I have to wait for all the traffic and wait in the middle and then run across because the lights change quickly. One minute is red next minute is green,” Pearson said.

He said he would hope there would be more signals in the area, making it safer for pedestrians.

Thornton said that area would not be the first one in Waco to make it more walkable. However, she said there are people who need to be able to cross Valley Mills.

“For that reason, I would love to figure out the safety there but really the main safety element is drivers’ mindset and I think it would be very difficult to change the mindset of people driving up and Valley Mills to be more aware of pedestrians because it just doesn’t look and feel a pedestrian place,” Thornton said.

There is a signalized crossing on Lake Air Drive but there is only a button to cross Lake Air Drive. A signalized crossing that gives both options is located at Wooded Acres Drive, but it is not operational yet. A cloth is covering the walking signals in that area, that appear to be new.

City of Waco spokesman Larry Holze said when the investigation is complete in that area, the traffic department will look and what can be done in the area to prevent future tragedies.

According to Texas Department of Transportation Spokesman Ken Roberts, any improvements to the area would come from a joint city and state project.

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