Crosswalks called into question after man hits two students

Hannah Sparling and Hannah Sparling

On March 3, freshman Evan Dietsch and sophomore Lindsay Blosser were hit by a car as they were crossing Mercer Road. Dietsch, Blosser and Dietsch’s roommate were crossing in front of the Ice Arena near Ridge Street. They used the crosswalk and activated the flashing yellow lights the city installed last year. As they started walking across the street, a brown 2001 Buick traveling toward them at 35 MPH didn’t yield. Dietsch pushed Blosser out the way; the car clipped her foot. Dietsch wasn’t as lucky. Blosser said she remembers hearing a thud as Dietsch was hit by the car. She turned around in time to see him fly about 30 feet through the air, land on his head and then roll a few times in the street. Blosser did not get hit fully, but when the car hit her foot it bruised all her tendons and left a big gash in the back of her ankle. She didn’t even notice her injuries until she got to the hospital. ‘I honestly didn’t know I got hit until I got to the hospital because I was more worried about him,’ she said. ‘My boyfriend was lying lifeless in the middle of the road.’ Dietsch doesn’t remember much about the accident. All he knows is what other people told him because he was unconscious for about 10 minutes after he was hit. ‘I don’t remember anything,’ he said. ‘I don’t remember if I jumped. I don’t remember where I hit the car, but apparently there was a dent on the hood.’ Dietsch may not remember the accident, but he knows it was real because of the injuries it left behind. He lost most of the teeth in the front of his mouth, and received a broken jaw, a fractured nose and a minor concussion. He also has a big scrape on his right side and a chunk missing from his right foot where his shoe came off after he was hit. ‘I was spitting out teeth and blood when I woke up,’ he said. The driver was a 67-year-old man. He was charged with failure to yield and fined $120. Dietsch and Blosser said they think something other than just the flashing yellow lights should be put in at the crosswalks on Mercer Road, such as stop signs or actual stoplights. They both said they have friends who have almost been hit at the same location because it is four lanes across and people tend to drive too fast and not pay attention. University Police Lt. David Weekley agreed that the area around the crosswalks is dangerous. ‘I know everyone gets a false sense of security with those lights flashing,’ he said. ‘It would really be helpful if Ridge Street and Mercer was a four way stop.’ Weekley said it has gotten better since the road was repaved, but the area could still be improved upon and made safer. ‘You can always make everything a little better,’ he said. Bowling Green Police Lt. Tony Hetrick said it would take more than one accident like Dietsch and Blosser’s to change the traffic signals on Mercer Road. He said there would have to be more research and several studies done before that could happen. ‘I don’t believe one incident like that would trigger a change in the traffic engineering,’ he said. Hetrick said theoretically the flashing yellow lights should be enough warning to make drivers stop. ‘If a pedestrian is in the crosswalk, the driver is, by law, required to stop,’ he said. Dietsch said drivers may be required by law to stop, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they will, and it is better to be extra cautious than to be thrown 30 feet by a moving vehicle. ‘Don’t assume they’ll stop, don’t assume they’ll see,’ he said. ‘Don’t turn on the lights and just start walking because it’s not always going to work out in the end.’