Woman kills 4-year-old walking in Issaquah crosswalk

Image of the intersection from Google Street View.

Image of the intersection from Google Street View.

A 67-year-old woman struck four-year-old Haochen Xu while he crossed in an Issaquah crosswalk with his mother Friday. Sadly, he died the next day in the hospital.

Our deepest condolences to his family.

A roadside memorial has been set up at the crosswalk, according to Issaquah Reporter.

Issaquah Police and the Washington State Patrol are still investigating. The woman driving remained at the scene and was not found to have signs of impairment.

“For some reason, the driver just failed to see them,” Issaquah Police Commander Stan Conrad told the Issaquah Press. The boy’s mother was just steps behind him, pushing his bicycle.

But neighbors have been asking for safety changes on this street for years, and now they’re demanding changes. An online petition clearly lays out the problem and some possible solutions (see text below, then go sign it). No action is not one of the options. Hundreds have already signed.

Two years ago, a man with two service dogs was nearly hit in the same crosswalk. He was not injured, but the dogs were killed, according to a different Issaquah Press story. After that, neighbors urged the city to lower the 40 mph speed limit and make other safety improvements. The city added more flashing lights to the crosswalk sign, but decided against lowering the speed limit.

It wasn’t enough. Here’s the text of the petition:

On June 26, 2015, a 4-year-old boy was struck and fatally injured by a vehicle while in the NW Oak Crest Drive/ Newport Way NW crosswalk. This incident was due in no small part to the inadequate safety measures for that intersection.

Newport Way NW has a 40 mph speed limit, which is very high for a road bordered by multiple residential sections. Residents of surrounding neighborhoods have noted that cars also tend to exceed this speed limit with some frequency, especially during peak driving times.

Driving eastbound on Newport Way, the crosswalk for the NW Oak Crest Drive intersection is preceded by a blind curve less than 100 yards from the intersection, which makes it very difficult for pedestrians, bicyclists, and cars leaving NW Oak Crest Drive onto Newport Way or coming westbound on Newport Way NW and turning left into NW Oak Crest Drive, to see approaching eastbound vehicles. It also makes it difficult for drivers approaching the intersection on Newport Way NW to see those individuals and vehicles before it is too late to slow down.

While the crosswalk does have a flashing pedestrian sign that can be activated by pedestrians and bicyclists, a. it is very hard to see that it is lit up in the daylight hours, b. it is very hard to see when coming around the blind curve, and c. it is far enough to the side of the road that many drivers unfamiliar with the road do not notice it.

The sidewalk/ walking path in this area is used frequently by bicyclists, joggers, runners, and families. As the traffic flow has increased on Newport Way NW, the safety of those using this path has been compromised. In order to prevent any further injuries, accidents, or fatalities, the City of Issaquah needs to improve the safety of the NW Oak Crest Drive and Newport Way NW intersection.

Petition:
We, the undersigned, call on the City of Issaquah to improve the safety of the Oak Crest Drive and Newport Way NW intersection. We propose that one or more of the following measures be taken:

1. Lower the speed limit of Newport Way NW between SE 54 Street and Hwy 900

2. Place speed bumps on either side of the NW Oak Crest Drive- Newport Way NW intersection

3. Install a traffic signal at the intersection of NW Oak Crest Drive and Newport Way NW

4. Place a stop sign on Newport Way NW at the Oak Crest Drive intersection

If the City of Issaquah has other viable options that would do an equally good or better job protecting this crosswalk, of course those options should also be considered instead of or in addition to the proposed ideas.

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31 Responses to Woman kills 4-year-old walking in Issaquah crosswalk

  1. Gary Yngve says:

    Lower the speed limit today! Enough is enough! Drivers have a basic duty of care not to drive into something in front of them or beyond what they can see. The speed limit is a maximum, and if drivers cannot drive at a safe speed according to conditions, then lower the speed limit and enforce it.

    • asdf2 says:

      Absolutely agreed. 40 mph is way too high for a neighborhood arterial. I would expect most streets like Newport Way to have a 30 mph limit, or 35 at the most.

      • Josh says:

        Real-world experience shows that lowering the speed limit, by itself, does almost nothing to average traffic speeds, and may actually increase collisions by setting up additional conflicts between the minority of drivers who obey the lowered speed limit and the majority who continue to drive based on their perception of a safe speed on the street. (That’s the reasoning behind using the 85th percentile as the starting point for calculating posted speed limits.)

        That’s not to say you can’t just lower the speed limit, but if you just lower the limit and don’t make physical changes, you’ll need substantial continuing enforcement.

        To really make the street safe, you need to change the infrastructure so that drivers feel uncomfortable exceeding a safe speed — speed tables, bulb-outs, transverse warning rumble strips before the blind curve to warn of the crosswalk, raised crosswalk, etc.

  2. asdf2 says:

    Newport Way through this stretch is also a popular bike route between Issaquah and Bellevue – yet another reason in favor of some sort of traffic calming on this street.

  3. Peri Hartman says:

    Lowing the speed limit isn’t enough. Speed limit signs do not stop speeders and this situation appears dangerous enough to warrant more. For example, narrower lanes or a less smooth surface would be more effective, I think.

    Take a look at Mercer street between Aurora & I5. In the old configuration, the lanes were narrow, the railroad tracks caused speed bumps, and the road surface was rutted and crummy. Almost no one exceeded 30mph. Today with wide straight lanes and long lights, I often see people going as fast as 50mph and 35-45 is the norm. It’s obvious what the effect of road condition has on speed and the little effect a speed limit sign has.

  4. AW says:

    There is no mention of the driver’s name nor if any charges are filed against her. It seems to me that if you blow through a crosswalk without looking and kill someone then it is reckless driving. Safety improvements are important but enforcing laws are also important too. So sad.

    • Tom Fucoloro says:

      Investigations are ongoing. They didn’t immediately say they don’t expect to file charges, which sadly is a step in the right direction. I’ll try to learn more about the state of the investigation and what kind of charges are being considered.

    • Kevin in QA says:

      As we know from reading this blog, homicide by car is not a cognizable crime at law apparently. Watch her get a $124 traffic ticket for unsafe driving.

      • Peri Hartman says:

        Actually, just last week a driver in South Park, I think, was cited for homicide with $100,000 bail for hitting someone. However, he was drunk at the time.

      • Kevin in QA says:

        And that distinction is why this incident is much more likely to look like what the Caleb Shoop murderer got (a $175 ticket).

      • Page temple says:

        $42 in Kirkland.

  5. HY says:

    “For some reason, the driver just failed to see them,” Issaquah Police Commander Stan Conrad

    Yea and Conrad shoplifters “just forgot to pay, whoops”; Burglars “whoops wrong house, looking for a friends house to walk his dog”; Murderers “didn’t mean to kill”

    NO ONE fails to see an adult and 2 kids in a sidewalk! Unless she is bloody blind. It matters not she stopped this needs to be a homicide. It is time we hold drivers responsible for their crimes!

    • SGG says:

      “For some reason, the driver just failed to see them”

      I’ll never understand why this is acceptable. When you get behind the wheel, it is your main job to “see them” and everything else.

    • AW says:

      This is exactly my point. If laws were so strict and enforced so that if a driver hurt or killed someone then they would absolutely face consequences then the drivers would take much, much more care when on the road.

    • Josh says:

      The street is posted at 40 mph, so in today’s culture we’d expect average traffic speeds to be around 45 mph, or 66 feet per second.

      There’s a blind curve less than 300 feet from the crosswalk. If it were a full 300 feet away, that’s 4.5 seconds between when the crosswalk is first visible and when the driver hits the crosswalk, or whoever is in it. An average adult will use up 1.5 seconds of that time simply recognizing the conflict and moving their foot from the gas to the brake (braking reaction time).

      If the driver is attentive when coming around that corner, stopping sight distance at even 40 mph is over 300 feet on level ground. At 45 mph, it’s closer to 400 feet.

      In other words, if there’s a blind corner 300 feet away from a crosswalk, and the speed limit is 40 mph, the road is designed to prevent drivers from stopping for an occupied crosswalk.

      • Meredith says:

        In this case I believe the Vunerable User Law could apply, the problem is getting local law enforcement and prosecuters to you know, actually use it.

  6. Bob Hall says:

    Ugh, so horrible.

    Great time for anyone who has time to take a listen to this podcast:
    http://www.strongtowns.org/journal/2015/6/12/podcast-show-240-gross-negligence

    This addresses a lot of the prescriptions recommended in these comments: public service announcements, lower speed limits, higher penalties won’t solve this problem. It’s the design of the road, and most of the blame should go to the traffic engineers and city planners.

  7. M.J. says:

    Issaquah is often touted as a great place to live. Access to the outdoors. Good schools. Nice houses. Cute downtown. Just don’t try to cross the street with your kids. So heart-breaking and wrong.

  8. MH says:

    Add this to the list of measures:

    – Install a speed radar device with
    a) a reader board that blinks when measured speed in 2mph greater than posted limit (similar to what is now on NE 61st Ave which I ride every day, past Caleb’s ghost bicycle)
    b) make the speed radar device capable of recording images of car & driver, time of day, speed, etc.

    The alternative is rather than the city installing this, a neighborhood watch organization does it.

    Records could be reviewed for repeat offenders/peak speeding time of day, and police could then take appropriate action.

  9. Doug Bostrom says:

    Speed limit enforcement is a system. Note what happens if you choose to take a speeding ticket to traffic court (SOP in USA) in Australia:

    http://www.rms.nsw.gov.au/roads/safety-rules/offences-penalties/speeding-offences.html

    Confirmed in court at 4MPH over speed limit=AU$2,200.00 fine. Are we feeling lucky today? :-)

  10. BGJ says:

    Many places in Seattle have a crosswalk with an operating red/green light activated by crossing pedestrians. Specifically there are two on Queen Anne Ave. between Mercer and the top of the hill (Galer Ave.). This might be a good solution for this location.

    • Josh says:

      A signal would not be a safe solution without some prior warning before the blind corner. Traveling at the posted speed limit, a driver has barely enough time to stop from the corner to the crosswalk if it is occupied — the speed limit is simply too high to be safe given the sight distances of the street.

  11. Erik says:

    As others have stated a crosswalk across a road with high speeds is something scary to walk out into. If you enter you’re at the mercy of drivers, who are often not paying attention or operating their vehicle at a safe speed, you’re hosed. If you wait until drivers actually stop for you to cross you wait. Either way it’s a set up for more deaths.

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  13. Mary says:

    Josh and others

    Thank you for your comments maybe City will listen to you. Please take the time to read thru the rest of this message and learn from this tragedy –Follow in your neighborhoods to make certain safety of our children is always first!!! One more minute on your commute drive, bike and walk safely watching the road and not texting or on your cell.

    Please note we have asked for lower speed limits but only got some of the warning devices some of you have mentioned which do not work for Newport Way which is narrow in many places, has many blind curves at development entrance, road is also sloped wrong for rain and ice.

    To make matters worse development south on S900 and South Hobart Road is still happening and with the 40 mph speed limit and Issaquah Police under staff and no time to really monitor (accidents and crime is there top priority) Newport Way NW is getting much of that traffic on our RESIDENTIAL CURVY street. If one tries to drive even the speed limit many people will pass on double yellow lines.

    Went turning into our complexes many have been re-ended or the cars speed around on the shoulders. On the northside they go over the small safety berm the City put in several year ago so that this section of road could become part MOUNTAINS to SOUND Trailing sytsem.

    There are yellow blinding lights cars just go faster thru them, there is a yellow 40 mph flashing light cars routinely go 48 -55 mph without breaking or slowing down there even though on a blind curve with School bus stop all alone the way. Our street is not the only one like this along this 2.3 but at 9 others similar intertance with two more on blind curve adding 1000 or more cars entering and who know how many more people. By City standard we now have learned such systems only raise % of accident up not reduce %.

    Oh and did I mention about 12 more school bus routes that stop some which cross students?

    The 85% rule study for speed limits that many are referring to is based on safe “highway” driving, “highway” road conditions and “highway” road design. Newport Way more than 60 years back may have been a highway thru Issaquah but the City of Issaquah has zone this area and a residential minor arterial. They have change the conditions and allowed development to happen without spending the dollars to redesign and reconstruct Newport Way accordingly from a rural highway a safe residential street. The City has known for over 30 years now by it placing the redesign of the road project in its Transportation Improvement Project list but that is it — no funding of work .

    The City keeps bumping the resigned study and construction down the list with no funding identified out to 2020 even as they continue to allow more development projects to go in without at least partially funding the much needed study and design to bring road up to them standard for residential road.

    Thank you all who have signed the petition and get more names — let this tragedy not happen to another family !!!!!

  14. Mary says:

    PS Josh this time it was not the blind curve. The drive was coming from Issaquah and hit the boy in the marked cross walk. As was true for the hit and run of 2 dog killed and own hurt two heat ago.

    NEWPORT WAY NW is a residental street not highway Bellevue has lower there similar stretch of Newport to 25 along time ago and Issaquah has NO other residential street at 40 mph !!!!

    See komo and fox news website
    http://q13fox.com/2015/07/02/neighbors-take-action-over-crosswalk-following-childs-death/

    http://www.komonews.com/news/local/Child-hospitalized-after-being-struck-by-car-in-Issaquah-310135711.html
    http://www.issaquahpress.com/index.php?s=hit+in+cross+walk
    http://www.issaquahpress.com/2012/03/20/driver-hits-kills-pets-in-crosswalk/

  15. Harrison Davignon says:

    We need to make crosswalks safer. To bad when people are crossing, we can’t have a metal wall that rises up on either side of the cross walk to prevent cars from entering the crosswalk. Drivers need to face the fact that not everyone has a car and pay attention to pedestrians.

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  17. Mart says:

    Hope those concerned about Newport Way and other safety concerns in getting around and thru Issaquah please note two up coming meeting.

    Issaquah general open house on 27Jul at Tibbits Manor check
    http://www.ci.issaquah.wa.us/CivicAlerts.aspx?AID=1580

    30Jul Citizen concerned and wanting safety changes made along Newport Way
    Meeting 7:45 PM KClS.org Service Center Newport Way Issaquah

    the petition is still open to make public comment if you can not come

    http://www.gopetition.com/petitions/traffic-safety-measures-for-oak-crest-newport-intersection/signatures.html

    Safe roads for all

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