This must end. Child hit ‘like a dog’ by two people who both kept driving in Rainier Valley

Click for the KOMO report.

Click for the KOMO report.

A seven-year-old girl is in serious condition in the Harborview ICU after she was struck by two different cars on MLK at S Genesee Street last night.

“They hit her like a dog. Just ran over her, not stopping, no nothing. They sped up, not stopping at all — neither one of them,” one witness told KOMO News.

King 5 reports this morning that she has been upgraded from critical condition to serious condition, but she remains in the ICU. She was unresponsive when Medics arrived and rushed her to the hospital.

We wish her a full and speedy recovery, and we send our best wishes to her family and friends through this difficult and uncertain time.

Police are looking for information to help track down either of the people responsible. The first vehicle is a red or maroon Chevy Tahoe, the driver of which hit her and knocked her down onto the road. The second vehicle is a gold Acura Legend, whose driver ran her over while she was in the road. UPDATE: SPD now reports that they have ruled out the Acura and are only looking for the Tahoe.

Neither person stopped, and both are wanted for hit-and-run. Anyone with information needs to call 911. Or better yet, the people responsible need to do the right thing and turn themselves in.

Neighbors are outraged, sad, shocked and all the other emotions that should come with knowing that a child in your neighborhood was run down by two separate people who did not care enough to stop. The collision is just about a half mile down MLK from where 15-year-old Trevon Crease-Holden was struck and very seriously injured in 2013 while walking his little brother home from the community center. The person driving in that case also fled the scene.

Hit and run is a criminal insult on top of the tragic and devastating collision that sent this girl to the ICU. A Seattle Times map shows that since 2007 there have been at least six serious collisions involving people walking or biking within a block of Tuesday’s collision. Expand that range to ten blocks and the number grows to at least 32, one of which killed someone.

MLK is not as dangerous as Rainier Ave, but that’s because Rainier is the most dangerous city-owned street in Seattle (Lake City Way and Aurora are state highways). Just weeks ago, neighbors organized a protest after a person lost control of a car and plowed through a hair salon into the restaurant next door at Rainier and Ferdinand, injuring many people.

Both MLK and Rainier are far more dangerous than they need to be, but the city has historically been slower to roll out safe streets projects in Rainier Valley than in wealthier neighborhoods. People in Rainier Valley even get fewer seconds to cross the street than people in Ballard, a 2013 study of traffic signal timing by the UW School of Public Health and Seattle Neighborhood Greenways found.

MLK does not need to be as wide and fast as it is today. Traffic volumes do not support four lanes plus turn pockets on top of the light rail lines running through the center of the street. It is a road engineering fact that people driving on an over-designed street with too many travel lanes that are too wide will speed and be less likely to avoid collisions and more likely to cause serious injury or death.

Rainier and MLK are designed like rural highways intended to serve people getting through the neighborhood at the expense of the people living there, walking there and biking there. They represent outdated and obsolete road engineering thinking that does not work in a city, and the result is that people are killed and maimed at an alarming rate. This includes people inside cars, the people supposedly helped by the dangerous street design.

It does not need to be this way. People have been consistently asking for a complete streets redesign of Rainier Ave for at least 15 years, and recommendation for such goes as far back as 1976, the Urbanist reports. Can you imagine how many people would still be alive today had the city responded to death on Rainier Ave in the 70s the way it did to death on N 45th Street in Wallingford?

That street carries the same number of vehicles per day as Rainier (south of MLK), yet N 45th saw zero deaths between 2001 and 2009 while four people died on a comparable length of Rainier through Columbia City and Hillman City. In it’s entirety, 19 people died on Rainier Ave within the Seattle city limits in just those 8 years.

But, of course, the demographics of Wallingford and Rainier Valley are very different. So Rainier and MLK keep killing and injuring people to this day, even though we know how to fix the problem. We’ve known how to fix it for a generation.

I repeat: It doesn’t need to be this way. MLK and parts of Rainier are slated for safety improvements in the newly-updated Bike Master Plan, and both are noted as high priorities in the Pedestrian Master Plan. We could all but cure traffic violence in Rainier Valley if we invested in complete streets projects there. So what are we waiting for? How many more children need to be sent to the ICU before we finally say stop?

Here’s KOMO’s report on Tuesday’s tragedy:

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40 Responses to This must end. Child hit ‘like a dog’ by two people who both kept driving in Rainier Valley

  1. Allan says:

    This is one case where more surveilance in our lives is better. There should be video cameras on all main thoroughfares so that hit and run drivers can be tracked down. There should also be a healthy reward system for turning in these people. Finally, Seattle speed limits are too high for such a congested city, and they should be enforced which they are not. This is very sad and completely preventable with the right strategy.

    • meanie says:

      Cameras don’t matter to people who don’t care, and know that there are no penalties for these types of crimes. Even if they get someone to admit to it, because otherwise its nearly impossible to tie someone to a driving infraction after the fact, the maximum fine is 10k and 5 years, but they get to keep their license!

      Assuming its a first offence, and they were texting ( not malicious under state law ) or just in a hurry, the judge would probably understand and feel bad for the accident and give them probation.

      We need real penalties for hitting *any* person with a car. You should lose your license for a year if you hit a human being, period. You can ask a judge for it back. The vulnerable user law needs to be more than a sad joke as well.

      • Van says:

        Agreed! Let’s hope the criminals get more than a $175 fine. Its bad enough she was hit once, much less twice. However, this once again shows that few are motivated to fix these problems unless someone dies. Never mind the close calls before, or the ones who were able to walk away, unless there’s a family and community shattered there is, in so many minds, no problem. I’d say its sad the problem in the area has gone on so long, but at this point that’s an horrible understatement. The problem is older than its latest. two victims.

      • kpt says:

        This isn’t just hitting someone. This is a hit-and-run. Leaving the scene of an accident. That’s a felony. If and when they catch them, there will be bigger consequences than the typical “accident”.

    • Josh says:

      Crosswalk enforcement cameras are existing technology. They record plates and issue tickets just as enforceable as red light cameras or school zone speed cameras. What’s our excuse for not using them?

      http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/new-dc-traffic-cameras-to-monitor-stop-signs-pedestrian-crosswalks/2012/08/29/9e9d21de-f1ee-11e1-a612-3cfc842a6d89_story.html

  2. Kirk says:

    If SDOT’s main goal is safety and SPD’s priority is protecting pedestrians, as they both have stated, then I think it is fair to say that both are failing miserably.

    • Skylar says:

      Agreed. With SPD ignoring basically all traffic infractions, and apparently all burgalries in north Seattle, Murray’s upcoming police levy might be the first levy ever I vote against.

      • biliruben says:

        I’m sure patrol officers have a difficult job at times, but it’s unfathomable to me that we have over 1100 officers making $100,000 a year last year. Fire them, and hire 2200 at $50,000, and then we can start enforcing failure to yield. Right?

        I don’t think it takes too much skill to pull someone over and give them a ticket.

      • Josh says:

        Where do you plan to find 2,200 competent law enforcement officers willing to work at Seattle’s high cost of living for significantly less than the national average police salary?

        And if you underpay them that much, what’s going to keep them honest?

      • Skylar says:

        Firing all of SPD is a bit excessive (I’ll assume that was hyperbole), but it’s a galling to be asked for $12 million when they let so many ticketable infractions pass by, and when enforcing many of those infractions would have the added benefit of improving safety. If every sworn officer at SPD made one extra traffic stop a day that resulted in a $124 ticket, they could raise $12 million in a year, and have some left over.

      • Cheif says:

        I fail to see how still giving someone 50k a year to be a cop is remotely underpaying them. The problem is that the 100k they get now is a massive overpayment, by a long shot. There is no conceivable reason to pay a cop that much money. They aren’t worth it.

      • Josh says:

        The way the labor market works, you can offer less money, but people don’t have to take the job.

        $50,000 is less than you’d pay for an experienced beat cop in Bellingham or Yakima, and you’re looking for someone to live and work in Seattle, one of the more expensive labor markets in the country.

        If you try to impose that low of a salary schedule in a place as expensive and centrally-located as Seattle, you end up with a constant stream of new recruits, fresh out of college, who get the city to pick up the tab for their Academy training, then leave for higher-paid jobs in the suburbs as soon as they have a year or two of experience.

      • Anandakos says:

        biliruben, Skylar,

        How about an amalgam of your suggestions? Reduce officers’ salaries (not to $50K but maybe to $80K) and give them a portion of every ticket they write. Human beings are strongly incentivized by money.

      • Joseph Singer says:

        Yeah, let’s incentivize officers giving out tickets to make money for themselves. This can only end well right?

  3. Ellie says:

    Aside from the roadway design issues, the speed limit along MLK (I believe the entire stretch south of 23rd until past Rainier Beach) is 35MPH rather than the standard arterial limit of 30MPH.

    • Charles B says:

      Lowering the speed limit for MLK would be a good idea, except we would need an exemption for the light rail, otherwise it will be so slow no one would ride it anymore.

      Either that or we need to start collecting money now to elevate it asap.

      At a minimum we need significant investment in pedestrian safety in this area, immediately.

      • Ellie says:

        I agree on an exception for lightrail–I ride it plenty as well (with my bike) and its efficiency is the main appeal.

        I don’t see a safety issue there–the light rail intersections are extremely well automated to protect the safety of pedestrians (and vehicle operator). You have to disobey a signal to get hit by a train.

        Besides, a train going 30MPH is going to probably hurt worse than a car going 35MPH.

      • Anandakos says:

        Charles,

        On Interstate Avenue in North Portland MAX is allowed to run at 45 while the arterial speed limit for cars is 30. There is absolutely no reason why the trains can’t go faster than the cars.

        Nothing that is except SDOT’s desire to allow the cars to free-load on Link’s signal preemption.

  4. Joseph Singer says:

    I understand that you are upset but referencing her being hit but making the comparison “They hit her like a dog. Just ran over her, not stopping, no nothing. They sped up, not stopping at all — neither one of them,” gives the impression that it’s OK to hit a dog and go on about your business. It is not OK to hit anyone or anything and go on about your business as if nothing happened.

    • Richard says:

      Well, perhaps you should argue that point with the eyewitness? Given the extreme distress they were probably feeling, I’m thinking they weren’t striving for the most politically correct PR statement at the time.

      • Richard says:

        That came across more adversarially than intended – just meant to say it was an unfortunate off-the-cuff remark. I agree that we should strive to eliminate the cultural acceptance of the reference, but I don’t think this is a good context to address that particular issue.

  5. Tad says:

    Isn’t it pathetic that we can’t expect people to act responsibly? We have to take physical measures to prevent them from driving like gibbons?

    Really, law enforcement could solve much of this problem. But careless driving is the social norm. Cops don’t care. Cops do it themselves.

    And Joseph, I agree. It’s an unfortunate phrase “like a dog” when referring to running over someone. It is also applied to shooting someone.

    • Kirk says:

      Cops don’t care. I pulled up last night behind a car that had stopped fully over the stop line and was blocking the crosswalk, forcing pedestrians to now cross in the traffic lane. An SPD cruiser pulled up behind the car, and next to me. I took the opportunity to point out the car to the officer. He said “so what”. He did nothing. Cops don’t care. Cops don’t do their job.

      • Van says:

        Oh but they’ll spend plenty of time telling cyclists to not pull up into the crosswalk and have oodles of time to tell people to wear helmets, but strangely not enough officers to investigate burglaries.
        I guess I’m used to my old town, where a cop was a cop, didn’t matter if it wasn’t their department, and I don’t think its right to malign the police in general, but I’ve been discouraged by every interaction I’ve had with the police down here, from reporting crime to getting directions. I wonder just how hard the police are looking for these “attempted” murderers?

  6. Cheif says:

    When is enough enough? When is a necessary evil too evil? It’s past time: We need 20 mph speed limits inside city limits enforced by automated ticketing cameras on every arterial.

  7. David Feldman says:

    Every hit and run should trigger a collective punishment of all drivers–one calendar year of non-prosecution of automobile thieves. Car theft should be legalized by neglect for one year after every vulnerable road user hit and run.

    • Cheif says:

      Not sure if legalization of theft is the answer but the police clearly have better things to be doing than tracking down people’s stolen stuff while there are people out there driving like this every single day. Of course it would be nice if traffic cops would actually do their job and enforce the laws in the first place..

    • jay says:

      The old “fight fire with fire”, while that may work in some cases for fighting wild fires, I’m not sure fighting crime with crime is such a good idea.

      Instead, how about for every hit and run incident install 10, 20, 100? new speed/red light/crosswalk cameras, and on the tickets put a reminder of why the cameras was installed. (yes, yes, Dori, I know the cameras are a crime too)

      meanie says: “Cameras don’t matter to people who don’t care”, however, in http://www.seattlebikeblog.com/2014/09/03/seattles-safe-routes-to-school-efforts-now-reach-nearly-all-schools/ Tom wrote: “City data shows that very few people who get caught speeding once ever get a second ticket, suggesting that the cameras are effective at changing people’s driving behavior.” Sure, the change may be to just avid school zones and speed through parallel residential streets, but the tickets apparently do get some notice.

    • Joseph Singer says:

      And you really want people to take your post seriously?

  8. Clark in Vancouver says:

    So, uh… not to get on another topic but if all cyclists are to blame for any individual’s wrongdoing, is it then fair that all motorists share in the guilt of these two motorists?

    (And I hope this is not taken to make light of this event. This is a serious question.)

    • Cheif says:

      Of course it is. Every time someone gets behind the wheel of an automobile they are complicit. Car culture is the problem, and anyone who perpetuates that culture by continuing to rely on an auto as their main form of transportation plays a part.

  9. Doug Bostrom says:

    Broken window syndrome? Ignoring speed limits, goosing through signals turning red are on a continuum leading to children being run over and left for dead.

    Given cost/benefits and rippling societal harm caused by motorized mayhem, SPD could be realigned as an organization principally devoted to traffic enforcement and probably make a pretty good showing on results.

    It would be good if there was a law enforcement agency exclusively devoted to enforcement of motor vehicle regulations. To the extent vehicle operators volunteer to fund such a thing by breaking laws and being fined, such an agency could be made self-funding.

    • Allan says:

      I like that idea, if SPD was divided into two departments, traffic enforcement and crime control, that could be much more effective.

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