An 86-year-old resident of Babcock Place Apartments was struck and killed by a car Wednesday night in an intersection that apartment residents say is dangerous for pedestrians. City commissioners rejected a crosswalk at the intersection late last year.
Theresa M. Knight, 1700 Mass., was attempting to cross Massachusetts Street just south of 17th Street when she was struck by a car and killed about 7:20 p.m. Wednesday.
According to police reports Knight stepped into the street from the southeast corner of the intersection and was struck by a 1986 Plymouth Reliant driven by Beth A. Dillon, 48, 1602 E. 18th, who was driving north on Massachusetts.
Dillon was in the right lane when she saw Knight, police reported. Dillon reportedly swerved left and braked, but could not avoid Knight. The right side of the car struck Knight and the impact threw her onto the hood and into the windshield.
Knight was taken by the Douglas County Ambulance Service to Lawrence Memorial Hospital and later was taken by helicopter to Kansas University Medical Center, Kansas City, Kan.
ACCORDING TO police reports, a medical center spokesman contacted the police Wednesday evening to inform officers that Knight had died from head injuries she suffered in the accident. She died at 11:13 p.m., a KUMC spokesman said today. Funeral arrangements for Mrs. Knight are pending with Warren-McElwain Mortuary.
Police reported that Dillon was not injured in the accident and she was not cited for any violations in connection with the accident. When police reports have been completed, copies will be forwarded to the district attorney's office to review whether charges should be filed.
Ruth Morris, president of the Babcock Tenants Assn., said the fatality could have been avoided if the city had heeded her warnings about the potential for an accident at the intersection.
Morris said that when she went outside after the accident, Knight was lying at about the point where Babcock residents wanted a pedestrian crosswalk.
Commissioners denied a request for a painted crosswalk at the intersection on Nov. 5. They also briefly discussed installing a stop light or pedestrian-activated signal at the intersection but took no action on either idea.
MORRIS HAS written letters to the city and presented a petition signed by many Babcock residents calling for some kind of traffic control at the intersection.
"This is what I was trying to fight against," Morris said of Knight's death. "This is what we're trying to get through to the city. We need something here to protect these people."
Morris said that the problem with the intersection is that cars zip by too fast for anyone to cross. The alternatives are walking to the traffic signals at either 14th Street or 19th Street.
Morris said that Knight was a frequent walker and usually went out for dinner each evening.
"She was a walker," Morris said. "She wasn't like a lot of people here. She walked everywhere.
"If a person who walks that good can't make it across the street, what kind of chance do the rest of us have?" Morris said.
Commissioner Bob Schulte this morning defended the commission's decision to deny the crosswalk request.
"IN MY POINT of view, I don't think that the request that came before us would have helped the situation," Schulte said.
The commissioners based their decision in part on a report from the city public works department that recommended denying the request for the crosswalk.
The report said there weren't enough significant gaps in the flow of traffic for a pedestrian to cross safely.
"Putting a crosswalk in would have lured people into the intersection believing it was safe to cross," Schulte said. "I think we made the proper decision."
Schulte said that he would ask for a new report from the city on traffic control options for the intersection.
City Manager Mike Wildgen said this morning that the city already was scheduled to receive some outside help with problems at three city intersections, including 17th and Massachusetts.
As part of a Kansas Department of Transportation program, engineers from Johnson, Brickell, Mulcahy and Associates, a Kansas City, Mo., engineering firm, will examine next month the intersections of 17th and Massachusetts, 15th and Monterey Way, and 15th and Engel Road.
"I don't think we've overlooked anything, but an outside look always helps," Wildgen said.
Wildgen cautioned against allowing the emotional aftermath of the accident to dictate a hasty solution to the problem.
"I don't know what the circumstances are," Wildgen said. "We'll try to analyze that and see if the accident is related to the problems with the intersection."
The Oread Neighborhood Assn. requested last year that funds from the city's non-motorized transportation budget be used for a pedestrian-activated signal at the intersection.
The Traffic Safety Commission, which reviews all fund requests and makes recommendations to the city commission, did not support ONA's request, said Terese Gorman, city engineer.