Westport teen suffers from running accident

Olivia Foster, Staff Writer

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In only a matter of minutes, a Staples student became the victim of a serious miscommunication between the state and the town of Westport on the matter of road and transit safety. Kaeleigh Pollard ’18, was running down Bridge Street, a route she normally takes, on Aug. 28, when a car hit her. She just recently returned to school on Oct. 13.

Pollard was crossing Bridge Street, across from the old Saugatuck Elementary School, in an effort to avoid crossing the four way intersection at Greens Farms Road and South Compo. However, the dangerous intersection she wished to avoid turned out not to be the real issue.

Bridge Street used to have a crosswalk in the middle of it but the State of Connecticut recently took it away. Yet Westport never took away the curb cut marks in the sidewalk, nor did they pave over the faint white crosswalk lines that are still prominent.

“I had my phone on my arm and I was quietly listening to music. I remember looking both ways, but I don’t remember seeing the car coming and then I blacked out. My mom’s friend was running and was first on the scene. When I woke back up, I called my mom and remember thinking she is going to be so nervous,” Pollard said of the accident. She is still recovering and has recently started going to tutoring at Staples so she can begin to catch up on the work she has missed, which she says, “has been really stressful.”

Pollard even said that when her mom called the Westport police station after the accident and asked about whether or not there was actually a crosswalk on Bridge Street, they were not given a clear answer.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 4,735 pedestrians were killed in crashes with motor vehicles in 2013, and Westport can make up for a few of those adverse numbers.

Pollard isn’t the only one who has had to pay the price of the lack of road safety in Westport. In response to an article that Jennifer Johnson, Westport’s transit director, wrote about Kaeleigh, numerous townspeople quoted their own running catastrophes due to the lack of street safety.

“My husband has been hit multiple times by drivers. He has ended up on the hood of a car more than once. To make matters worse, drivers don’t always stop. My son, a sophomore on the cross country team, was hit last year while practicing with a group. The driver left,” said Westport resident, Michele Harding.

While the article’s responses show the need for more attentive drivers in Westport, Johnson believes that it relies more on the safety of the roads in which pedestrians are walking and running on. In the article, she states that, “We have failed to make Westport safe for pedestrians. We force people to stand in the road to wait for a bus, lead people down sidewalks that abruptly end, and force families to walk in roads that are designed and maintained solely for cars.”

Pollard is still suffering from traumatic injuries such as a concussion and neck problems as well as the anxiety that comes with an incident like this. “I had a lot of anxiety right after the accident because I couldn’t remember anything that happened and everyone around me knew so much.”

On the bright side, Pollard has just started a tutoring program at Staples for an hour every morning.

Pollard had to pay the price of this miscommunication between the state and the town, which has shed new lights on the safety issues of roads and sidewalks in Westport.

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