Parents, Students Fed Up With Unsafe Crosswalk Outside New Palestine High School
NEW PALESTINE, Ind. -- Concern for the safety of students walking to school in New Palestine is apparent yet again for parents and students alike in the southern Hancock County town.
Monday morning, a student riding his bike to New Palestine High School was hit by a pick-up truck while crossing U.S. 52 crosswalk directly in front of the school. It's a crosswalk that has no stop signs, yield signs, or flashing lights.
"It's kind of scary using that crosswalk," said Matthew Crawford, a 17-year-old student at New Pal who also works at a pizza joint just across the street from the high school. "People tend to just speed right on by and you just kind of have to make a break for it."
John Bundy was at the wheel of the pick-up truck that hit the 14-year-old boy Monday morning. The Sheriff's Department says speed or alcohol were not factors in the crash. Bundy actually stayed at the scene of the accident to talk with officers.
The boy who was hit was taken to the hospital with critical injuries.
"People were freaking out," Crawford said to WISH-TV. "This was someone's friend. This was someone's family member that got hit"
Crawford said with no light or indicators for students to know it's safe to cross the street, finding an opportunity to cross in a break in the traffic on the busy state highway can take a while.
"Sometimes you’re stuck there, waiting for 20, 25 minutes after school just to get across the crosswalk," he said. "It is on the drivers to yield for pedestrians, but don’t count on that."
A spokesperson for the Southern Hancock County Community School Corporation cited previous conversations about increasing student safety on U.S. 52.
“The school district has had and is continuing to have, conversations with the Indiana Department of Transportation and local law enforcement agencies to find the best solution on U.S. 52 that works to keep our students, parents, and community safe,” Wes Anderson, the director of school and community relations, said Monday in an emailed statement. “We hope these conversations can lead to action by INDOT which will reduce speed and increase driver awareness on U.S. 52 near New Palestine High School’s main entrance. Our goal is to work with INDOT and our local law enforcement agencies to solve this problem in the best interest of student safety.”
INDOT did not disclose any immediate plans to add lights or signals to the crosswalk but said an “improvement plan” is scheduled for construction in 2020 at an intersection “just down the street from the high school.”