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Busy Richland crosswalk where boys were hit to get new warning lights — next spring

Richland mom expresses safety concerns after brothers hit

Richland's Tomalin Bailie expresses safety concerns for pedestrians and bicyclists as investigators document the scene on Jadwin Avenue where two brothers were hit by a car and seriously injured the previous night while in a crosswalk.
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Richland's Tomalin Bailie expresses safety concerns for pedestrians and bicyclists as investigators document the scene on Jadwin Avenue where two brothers were hit by a car and seriously injured the previous night while in a crosswalk.

A busy Richland intersection where two brothers were hit by a car in a crosswalk Tuesday evening already had been targeted by the city for new safety lights.

However, those lights won’t be installed until the spring.

The boys, ages 9 and 12, live in an apartment complex nearby, said Tomalin Bailie, a mother of one of the boy’s friends.

Walking home from a basketball game shortly before 5 p.m., they paused at the crosswalk across Jadwin Avenue at Wilson Street and saw two trucks stop on the four-lane road, then started to cross, Officer Eric Edwards said.

A man driving a gray Mustang heading south on the busy street didn’t notice the trucks stopped until it was too late. He slammed on his brakes as the boys stepped out from behind one of the trucks leaving a skid mark on the road and into the intersection.

The driver stopped and several witnesses rushed to help the boys.

Bailie was in her nearby house and heard some commotion. She ran to the intersection and held one of the boy’s hands until they could be taken to a local hospital.

“I am sure they were in a crosswalk,” she said. “They’re not troublemakers in any kind of way. ... I know those kids were far from the crosswalk when I got there.”

Both were taken to a hospital with broken bones, and one suffered a serious head injury. One was flown to Spokane and is in the Intensive Care Unit.

The driver is cooperating with police and there is no sign he was drunk, or on drugs, Edwards said.

Counselors were sent to Chief Joseph Middle School and Jefferson Elementary where the boys were students to help their friends with questions or concerns, said Ty Beaver, the school district’s communications director.

Police closed Jadwin Avenue between Chief Joseph Middle School and Van Giesen Street for about an hour Wednesday morning while they investigated and took measurements in the daylight.

It’s an intersection that’s had problems before — Bailie said it’s where many students cross to nearby schools — and the city just received a grant to put in safety lights.

The four-lane road carries about 10,000 vehicles a day, which makes it busy, though only a quarter as busy the south end of George Washington Way or Columbia Center Boulevard.

The district and city are working together on the $81,000 project, which also includes more crossing lights and flashing school zone speed limit signs at White Bluffs Elementary School.

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Richland investigation
Richland police closed Wilson Street Wednesday morning as they continue to investigate a crash that seriously injured two boys who were crossing the street at Jadwin Avenue. Bob Brawdy Tri-City Herald

Bailie said that the crossing at the Federal Building has warning lights, and other Richland crosswalks have orange flags that people can carry as they cross the street to catch the attention of drivers.

She asked people driving through the area to slow down and be careful.

Richland and the school district received money from the Washington Traffic Safety Commission about a month ago to add two sets of flashing crosswalk lights at Chief Joseph Middle School, said John Deskins, a traffic engineer with the city.

They just started shopping for the lights, and planned to put them up during spring break.

The intersection as well as crosswalk on the north entrance to the middle school caught the city’s attention during a safety review.

“There wasn’t a spike in crashes that I know of,” Deskins said. “It did stand out because it’s a four-lane road and has two crosswalks. It seemed like an important location to add some lights.”

If the city can get the lights up faster, they will, Deskins said. However, there is a long lead time to reserve equipment, and finding a contractor and working around school schedules likely will push installation back into the spring.

While Bailie is happy about the lights, she is disappointed that they won’t be going in until spring break.

With the time change, Deskins and Edwards asked drivers and pedestrians to be careful on the roads.

Cameron Probert: 509-582-1402; Twitter: @cameroncprobert

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