A Jeep that police say struck a pedestrian in Clayton on Thursday night. (Photo: Curtis Kreklau)

Three serious pedestrian crashes — one fatal — in Surrey so far in 2018

Surrey woman sees pedestrian get hit in crosswalk immediately after predicting it would happen

Sometimes it’s awful to be right.

Christina Holland and her husband Trevor were waiting to turn left in Clayton early Thursday evening, at 190th Street and 72nd Avenue, when her grim prediction became real.

“As we were waiting I said to my husband, this crosswalk is brutal, they really need a light, one of these days someone is going to get hit, and then wham – she got (hit), it was like right as we were talking about it, it was awful.”

A Jeep hit an 18-year-old woman, right before their eyes.

“One car had already stopped and she started to cross the road and that’s when she was hit by the car coming in the opposite direction,” Holland said.

As for the coincidence, she told the Now-Leader, “It tells me it’s a very unsafe crosswalk and it was really shocking to all of a sudden happen right as we were talking about it.”

Christina Holland (Photo: Tom Zytaruk)

Holland, who lives in that neighbourhood and runs a daycare, said she later learned the victim was released from hospital and was at home resting the morning after the crash, on Jan. 11.

“She doesn’t have any broken bones, she has a few stitches and she lost a tooth,” Holland said. “She’s very lucky. I guess she was a student from China. She was in all dark clothing, with a dark red umbrella.”

Others have not been lucky.

Surrey recorded its first pedestrian fatality this year on Jan. 5, when a 79-year-old man died of his injuries one day after being struck by a Ford pickup truck, shortly before 6 p.m., at 72nd Avenue and 130th Street in Newton. It was also Surrey’s first major pedestrian-related crash of 2018.

The victim in that crash had also been in a crosswalk, at an intersection with street lights.

On Friday morning, Jan. 12, another pedestrian sustained life-threatening injuries when he was struck by a pickup truck in the 3000-block of 192nd Street, shortly before 5 a.m. The 37-year-old man was not walking in a crosswalk but rather “down the middle of the road,” Schumann said.

Meantime, Holland said her husband ran across the road to help the young pedestrian who’d been hit in Clayton.

“Some neighbours and other vehicles stopped. It’s right there in front of one house where a man had run out and got a blanket and stuff. I stayed in the car with my two young children and I called the ambulance.”

As for that particular crosswalk, Holland said, “I’d actually requested the crosswalk in the summertime. My daughter was starting school there and I just knew if we had to cross that road it was going to be necessary, but since the crosswalk’s been put in there’s been a few times where we’ve tried, or attempted to walk and stood at the crosswalk and waited for at least three to five cars before somebody would stop, before we could walk, and that’s in broad daylight. So, it’s pretty bad.”

As for Holland’s eerie prediction, Schumann remarked, “What are the chances? But I mean don’t blame the crosswalk, really. Drivers have a responsibility, as do pedestrians.”

Surrey RCMP Corporal Scotty Schumann. (Photo: Now-Leader)

In response, Holland noted that while “everybody needs to pay attention” the crosswalk is nevertheless “very poorly lit, it was very dark and it was raining, so I think it would help if there was a pedestrian-controlled stop light instead of just a painted crosswalk.”

Schumann said the driver was issued a violation ticket under the Motor Vehicle Act for failing to yield to a pedestrian.

Last year, eight pedestrians were killed and 10 were seriously injured on Surrey’s streets. All told, there were 20 traffic fatalities and 23 serious injuries in Surrey in 2017.

In comparison, 10 pedestrians were killed in Surrey in 2016 and 20 were seriously injured. That year, Surrey recorded 14 fatalities and 29 people seriously hurt in crashes.

A tally for all pedestrian crashes so far in Surrey this year, serious to the most minor, was not available at press time.

“I’m not sure we keep a running total of it because that number doesn’t serve a purpose. It would be interesting to you and your readers, but it doesn’t help our investigations,” Schumann said.

“I don’t know about the numbers, whether we’re seeing an increase or a decrease, but we always see a spike in pedestrian crashes during the winter months, and that’s attributed to the shortened amount of daylight.”

The top contributing factors to traffic fatalities are speed, distracted driving and impairment.

“That’s just in general, but I mean obviously the speed of the vehicle will contribute to whether a pedestrian dies in a crash or not. There’s so many factors it’s really hard to pinpoint it, but I would reiterate the message that the onus is on the drivers and the pedestrians to pay more attention while on the road. Pedestrians need to remember that even if they have right-of-way, they need to make sure that a car is going to yield the right-of-way to them and not just assume the vehicle is going to stop when they’re crossing.”

Drivers, conversely, should be “giving 100 per cent attention to the road in front of them, driving appropriately for conditions.”

“You can improve the likelihood of being seen by a driver if you’re wearing bright or reflective clothing. When my wife is jogging in the evening she’s wearing light-coloured clothing, a flashing light and reflective wrist bands and anklets. She’s more likely to be spotted by drivers than somebody wearing dark clothing.”

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