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Pedestrian-motorist incidents adding up in region

| Friday, Dec. 6, 2013, 8:54 a.m.
A car blurs through a cross walk at the intersection of Dennistion Street and Forbes Avenue Friday December 6, 2013 in Squirrel Hill.
James Knox | Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
A car blurs through a cross walk at the intersection of Dennistion Street and Forbes Avenue Friday December 6, 2013 in Squirrel Hill.
Vehicles blur through a cross walk at the intersection of Dennistion Street and Forbes Avenue Friday December 6, 2013 in Squirrel Hill in this long exposure.
James Knox | Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
Vehicles blur through a cross walk at the intersection of Dennistion Street and Forbes Avenue Friday December 6, 2013 in Squirrel Hill in this long exposure.
Cole Dougherty, 19 and Saranya Govindataju, 19, both of Oakland walk through the snow into the University of Pittsburgh library in Oakland, Friday.
Andrew Russell | Tribune-Review
Cole Dougherty, 19 and Saranya Govindataju, 19, both of Oakland walk through the snow into the University of Pittsburgh library in Oakland, Friday.
Spotlights illuminate the snow flurries around the Mary Schenley Memorial Fountain, in Oakland, Friday.
Andrew Russell | Tribune-Review
Spotlights illuminate the snow flurries around the Mary Schenley Memorial Fountain, in Oakland, Friday.

Police warned drivers and pedestrians to be careful and obey the law in response to several incidents in which vehicles hit pedestrians on Thursday night and Friday morning.

Darkness, pedestrians dressed in dark clothing and drivers not yielding at crosswalks can add up to tragedy, police said.

“It's very dangerous. A lot of traffic, a lot of distractions, both pedestrians and drivers,” said David Jackson, 64, of Duquesne, as he waited for a Downtown bus on Friday evening.

“I don't feel safe,” agreed Geraldine Kornegay, 50, another Duquesne resident waiting for a Downtown bus. “Everybody is in too big a hurry. Some people hurry through the red light. They don't want to allow the walkers to cross the street.”

In the incidents reported:

• One woman was struck Thursday night at the intersection of Ninth Street and Liberty Avenue, Downtown.

• Two pedestrians were injured about 7 p.m. Thursday on Third Avenue in New Brighton, Beaver County, when a motorist crashed into a stopped vehicle, pushing it into those on foot, police said.

• A woman was hit at 6:30 a.m. Friday at Panther Hollow and Greenfield roads in Schenley Park.

• A motorist fled after hitting a pedestrian at 6:45 a.m. Friday in the 200 block of Freeport Road in Aspinwall.

In that incident, the pedestrian was struck with so much force that her shoes were knocked off her feet, an Aspinwall police officer said.

Freeport resident Jane Pastol, 30, was crossing Freeport Road on her way to work when she was hit by a car whose driver then stopped briefly before leaving the scene, Officer Shawn McMinn said. Police are searching for the driver.

“The vehicle likely does have windshield damage from the impact,” said McMinn, who said hospital workers found glass in Pastol's hair.

Pittsburgh police Zone 4 Cmdr. Kathy Degler said in a statement that officers responded to five calls for pedestrians hit by vehicles while pedestrians were legally crossing streets in the past three weeks. In three cases, pedestrians were in crosswalks. Most occurred at dusk or night.

“A motorist's lack of paying attention, distraction and/or visibility can oftentimes be costly and dangerous, especially in low light or inclement weather conditions,” Degler said.

Rain, sleet, freezing rain and snow late Friday made some roads and sidewalks slick. There were no reports of pedestrians hit by sliding vehicles.

Denise Bransom, a grandmother from Highland Park, said a driver's speed and distracted pedestrians and motorists make crossing the street dangerous.

“Drivers are in too big a hurry to get to the next red light. It's awful,” Bransom said. “Drivers are distracted with their toys and stuff; people cross the street with their headphones on, they don't know where they are at.”

Statewide and nationally, crash-related pedestrian deaths and injuries mostly declined in recent decades, but they've been increasing in recent years.

Of the 4,422 crashes involving pedestrians in Pennsylvania in 2008, 142 pedestrians died and 4,389 were injured, according to PennDOT data.

Of the 4,538 pedestrian-related crashes statewide in 2012, some of which involved multiple pedestrians, 168 pedestrians died and 4,548 were injured.

Night crashes are more likely to be fatal for pedestrians, PennDOT said.

“It's really a host of issues,” said Jonathan Adkins, deputy executive director of the Governors Highway Safety Administration in Washington.

One contributing factor to pedestrian-related crashes may be the national push for more people to walk, especially in light of America's battles with obesity, but the infrastructure has to allow for safe walking, he said.

Bad weather might have factored into the crash in Aspinwall, but Pastol was crossing while not in a designated crosswalk, McMinn said.

“It is a bad crossing area,” he said.

Pastol, who was taken to UPMC Presbyterian in Oakland, suffered a fractured finger and tibia and abrasions to her head, a knee and an ankle, he said.

Tory N. Parrish and Michael Hasch are Trib Total Media staff writers. Reach Parrish at 412-380-5662 or tparrish@tribweb.com. Reach Hasch at 412-320-7820 or mhasch@tribweb.com.

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