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LU Student Hit Crossing High Street

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The Farmville Herald

FARMVILLE – A Longwood University student crossing High Street at Randolph Street was struck by a car Wednesday afternoon and transported to Centra Southside Community Hospital “with non-life threatening injuries,” according to a statement issued by the Farmville Police Department.

The 69-year old driver was charged with “failing to stop for a pedestrian,” according to the press release authorized by Chief Doug Mooney.

The press release states that “according to witnesses an eastbound vehicle had stopped to allow a pedestrian to cross High Street in a marked crosswalk in front of Longwood University. The pedestrian, a 21-year old Longwood University student, crossed the eastbound lanes and entered the westbound lane when struck by a westbound vehicle.”

The accident raised the issue of pedestrian safety and crosswalk law, with police noting that state law requires drivers to yield to pedestrians in a crosswalk or other regular pedestrian crossing or at an intersection.

In an interview Wednesday afternoon, Chief Mooney told The Herald that the Longwood student struck on High Street “was clearly in the crosswalk.

“And the lady didn't see her,” he said.

“Motorists need to be cautious for pedestrians crossing the roadway, especially while school's back in session,” the police chief said.

“There's a lot of people who cross High Street,” he continued, “and Main Street too.”

Farmville Town Manager Gerald Spates told The Herald that “once a pedestrian steps in the crosswalk you're supposed to yield. There's a lot of pedestrian traffic around Longwood, so I think it's critical that people pay attention and be careful.”

There is a shared responsibility, however, between motorists and pedestrians, Chief Mooney, noted.

“State Code also puts pedestrians on notice that they have a duty to not disregard oncoming vehicles. They can't just step out and expect people to slam on their brakes,” he said. “They have to wait for cars to yield and that's kind of the smart thing to do.”

Pedestrians, he continued, “can't step out when the motorist doesn't have time to stop.

“So it's kind of a gray area there,” he said of the dual responsibility, “where you have to use some judgment. If I step out on a road, even if I'm going to be correct, if I get hit by a car do I really win?

“Sometimes they don't take that into account,” Chief Mooney said. “They're just on their (cell) phone and don't even look, they just walk, thinking, 'Okay, well they've got to stop.' So it's tough…”

But, again, Chief Mooney said of Wednesday's accident on High Street that “this girl was clearly in the crosswalk…”

And section 46.2-924 of the Code of Virginia-drivers to stop for pedestrians-clearly states: “The driver of any vehicle on a highway shall yield the right-of-way to any pedestrian crossing such highway at any clearly marked crosswalk, whether at mid-block or at the end of any block…”