The Herald Bulletin

November 14, 2013

Officials: Unlit streetlight not main cause of fatal pedestrian-car crash

Crosswalks, sidewalks unlikely to be installed on busy state road

By Jack Molitor
The Herald Bulletin

ANDERSON, Ind. — At about 8:30 p.m. on Nov. 5, Ronald Dean Carter headed back to work at Wal-Mart near the 5000 block of Scatterfield Road. He had just taken a late lunch.

It was an unusual night for the 25-year-old Carter, who typically didn’t leave the store for his breaks. He decided to cross the busy state road on foot. It turned out to be a fatal mistake.

Carter was killed almost instantly from injuries he suffered after he was struck by a four-door compact car. According to police reports, he was heading east and made it across the southbound lane. Then he was hit by a Chevrolet Cruze traveling north in the far right lane. Police said the impact possibly threw Carter about 90 feet.

Two good Samaritans tried to give Carter CPR before rescue crews arrived. But by the time Carter was placed in an ambulance, he had no pulse.

As more details surface in the investigation, the more it appears that Carter’s actions, more than anything, contributed to the accident, investigators say. According to Anderson Police detective Joel Sandefur, Carter was partially blind.

He might have also been on a cellphone while crossing the street. A street lamp on the east side of the road was not functional, though officials believe that only partially contributed to the accident. Carter crossed the street several yards north of the bustling Charles Street intersection.

Nancy S. Rogers, 66, of Anderson, was driving the Cruze that hit Carter. Rogers told officers she was traveling about 40 mph and had just left an intersection near that block. The posted speed limit in the area is 45 mph. Police don’t believe she was driving irresponsibly.

Still, city and state officials have met since the accident to discuss any modifications that might need to be made to make the area safer.

Devoney Gordon, a close friend of Carter’s, called for the city to install a crosswalk in the area for pedestrians.

Anderson Chief of Police Larry Crenshaw said he met with the Indiana Department of Transportation shortly after the accident. INDOT has jurisdiction over the state road, and even if it was a good idea, according to Crenshaw, there’s unlikely to be a crosswalk or sidewalks added anytime soon.

“There’s a process that needs to take place for them for that to happen. The flow of traffic and a few other things need to be studied,” Crenshaw said. “We’ve seen how that might be an issue in some parts of town, but it’s hard to get a grasp on how much pedestrian traffic there is in that area.”

The south end of Scatterfield, which has burgeoned in recent decades, is known as a light commercial-industrial area, and the road sees a lot of vehicular traffic. Crenshaw said he wouldn’t advise anyone to cross the road on foot.

“The public has to understand, if you do cross, always cross at an intersections,” he said. “There are other precautions you can take, as well. We always recommend wearing something fluorescent or reflective if you’re crossing.”

The Anderson Board of Public Works is responsible for maintenance on city infrastructure street lights. Department head Pete Heuer called Carter’s death a tragic accident and said his department was looking into the situation, but said he couldn’t comment further.

Crenshaw said it’s a general responsibility of police officers to be on the lookout for anything dilapidated in the city environment, including problems on roads like nonfunctional street lights. He said his officers regularly report issues or trouble spots they see in the city.

Crenshaw said he also encouraged motorists to increase their focus, especially when driving at night. He called driving a habit-forming process, and said drivers often become overconfident about their abilities.

“To say a street light was out, and that’s the main culprit, I don’t think that’s fair,” he said. “Was the light being out contributory? Maybe it was. Why he decided to cross the street then, we’ll never know. But there are other issues, and we can’t control that. All we can do is try to make our streets and intersections as safe as we can.”

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