17 March 2008

Look Both Ways, Then Never Leave the House

Update: It looks like they've made the identity of the victim public. It's such a hard thing to have had to witness, even after the fact. It only serves to remind us of our own mortality.

Someone commented on one of the articles, saying she witnessed the accident - that Isaac walked right into the back wheels of the truck while he was trying to cross at the crosswalk, possibly listening to an ipod - assuming that he and the truck wouldn't occupy the same space at the same time. This is consistent with a lot of the speculation and, sadly, the evidence I (and many others) witnessed. I have been caught off guard before when the rear wheels of a truck clip the curb and I have to jump back to avoid being hit. I also am among good company here in Camberville when, even while being a vigilant pedestrian, I stand [just barely] in the street, impatiently waiting for any opportunity to walk (whether it's at a lighted crosswalk or at an unlit one). It is tremendously scary when things like this happen. They're accidents. Simple. But how many times have we been lucky not to be victims of those accidents ourselves?

My heart goes out to the family and friends.
If you live in the Boston area (or any other metropolitan area, I'd imagine), you've probably done your share of jaywalking. Whether or not you're always careful, you've probably had a few near run-ins with some vehicles, and hopefully, you've always been okay.

The corner of Russell and Highland has always been this intersection for me, where the buses come barreling around the corner at (what feels like) 55 mph, regardless of the status of the light. There is no sign that disallows right turns on red, but whenever I'm watching this intersection I'm lucky if I see cars even pause before speeding around the corner, where the crosswalk is inconveniently and unsafely located. I want to go up to cars that actually stop and look, so that I can give the driver a high five. And on the same token, I want to smack pedestrians that just walk into the street when the light is green.

On the corner of Mass Ave and River street the volume of pedestrian traffic mixed in with the morning rush has made for some harrowing moments for me, too. The potentially deadly mix of man and vehicle was halted this morning, though, after tragedy struck. A 28 year old Harvard student was in the crosswalk when a Shaw's delivery truck turned right onto Mass Ave, and hit him, dragging him 25 feet (right in front of the subway entrance). The driver says he didn't see the guy. At 6:45 in the morning, it's very likely that the pedestrian had the right of way, and the truck simply made a (perfectly legal) right turn on a green light (the green traffic light and the walk signal both happen at the same time, despite a high volume of right turns. Stupid much, Cambridge?). Many people are blaming the morning sun. Could either one of them have paid more attention to the situation? Probably, but I doubt that any of us think like that when we're just trying to get to work - walking the same route we walk every morning. You shouldn't have to fear for your life when you have a walk signal. The driver should have been more cautious - always.

If your commute takes you to the Central Square T stop, it's likely that you saw this accident, or the grisly aftermath in some form or another. Unfortunately, Monday is the only day that my commute takes me to Central Square. I stopped to look at what I thought would be an exploded manhole cover (frequently happens in the area, unfortunately), or, when I saw the semi-truck, someone crashed into a pole. I never dreamed that I would be staring at the remains of a fatal pedestrian accident, thinking about how terrifying it is to watch cars blaze through red lights, or pedestrians walk blithely into traffic.

My mom always used to say, regarding right-of-way, that it's better to be wrong than to be dead right. I do honestly think about this frequently while crossing, but how many times have I bolted across the street to beat a blinking orange hand, trusting the traffic lights to keep me safe? It's enough to make a person doubly cautious, and even that won't do it sometimes. There's no traffic light that's going to protect you from the laws of physics, or someone else's carelessness.

Unfortunately, the Harvard student didn't make it. If you're the praying type, you should keep his family in your prayers. If like me, you're not, then just keep them in your thoughts. And be careful out there. I imagine sometimes what I would do if J were ever hurt, and it knocks the wind right out of me. And that's just pretend.

(edited to add: I got into an interesting discussion on someone else's livejournal, and he pointed out that the truck was going at a low speed, and the pedestrian got caught under the back tires (true, I also noticed this when I saw the scene). He made note that this could have been any kind of accident where someone was or was not paying attention - someone wearing headphones, someone tripping, a truck clipping the curb...so I'm not trying to make the point that anyone is to *blame*, but a person can never be too careful!)


dearsweetbriar said...

Ugh. After publishing, I went over to the b0st0n.livejournal and saw some troll posting about this guy being an idiot for "[believing] more int he (sic) rule of law than the laws of physics."

I didn't mean it that way. This guy and his asshole-ness makes me physically ill. The biggest thing I have a hard time tolerating is people who are intolerable dickheads.

I only post this here in case someone comes over here looking to see about the accident, and happened to make a connection between me and the insensitive dillhole on livejournal.

Sway Knits said...

When I was a student there, a girl in my class got hit by a car as she crossed the street in front of the Charles Hotel. It was raining and the car dragged her for 50 feet before the driver stopped. She died that night and I agree with you...Cambridge's traffic lights (or nonexistence of traffic lights) is fucked.

I'll keep the student and his family in my thoughts.