Claremont Insider: Yesterday's Indian Hill Accident - UPDATED

Friday, May 15, 2009

Yesterday's Indian Hill Accident - UPDATED

Accident Victims Kin to Senior City Staffer

UPDATED, 2:45pm - Courier reporter Tony Krickl reports that the victims in yesterday's automobile/pedestrian accident in Indian Hill were identified as Barbara and Noah Witt, the wife and son of Claremont Community Development Director Tony Witt. Krickl reports that Mrs. Witt was treated and released last night.

Krickl continues, "
Five-year-old Noah was transported to another hospital where he is being treated in a pediatrics intensive care unit. He's listed in stable condition after suffering some chest and head trauma".

We join the Claremont community in offering our prayers and best wishes to young Noah Witt and to the entire Witt family.

June 11, 2008 Courier photo of Noah Witt, left, and older brother Josh by Gabriel Fenoy

* * * * *

UPDATED, 7:30am - We've gone back and added in the discussion from January over the crosswalk at 10th and Indian Hill.

A reader wrote in to ask about the commotion at Indian Hill Blvd. and 10th St. yesterday afternoon. Turns out there was a very bad accident at the intersection around 3pm. The Claremont Courier's Tony Krickl writes on his blog that a boy and his mother were crossing Indian Hill and were struck by a car.

According the Krickl, the woman was in stable condition, but the boy had to be airlifted to Loma Linda Medical Center. The Courier will undoubtedly have more on Saturday. Krickl may also update his blog post. One of the post's comments from last night said in part:
Tony, I was coming home from dinner tonight and stopped and spoke with one of the Claremont police officers at the scene around 7:30. He indicated that he too had heard the boy was in good condition, considering....

The accident appears to have occurred at the northwest corner of Memorial Park in the Claremont Village. There's a flashing crosswalk there with yellow, in-ground LEDs. There have been some complaints about the crosswalk, and on 1/22/09, the matter came before the City's Traffic and Transportation Commission with the recommendation that the blinking ground-level lights be replaced with a pedestrian-activated overhead flashing beacon:

Click to enlarge

According to the minutes for that 1/22/09 Traffic and Transportation Commission meeting, staff wanted to change the crosswalk because there has been litigation in other cities over the LED system. The complaints we've heard have been pretty much the same: some drivers just don't see the lights. This may be what has been at the center of the litigation.

At the 1/22/09 meeting, the commission voted 6-1 to continue the matter because of lack of notice. Apparently, under California Environmental Quality Act rules the issue requires an initial study, which hasn't been done yet.

The minutes for that January meeting outline the discussion that took place:
3. Indian Hill Boulevard at Tenth Street Pedestrian Signal and Lights Update

Senior Civil Engineer Loretta Mustafa presented her report and provided background information on the matter. She gave a brief update on the in pavement crosswalk lights. She stated that since it has been installed there were a lot of concerns with the lights. Staff recommends to remove the in pavement lights and install overhead beacons. She stated that drivers are not used to seeing lights in the ground they are more used to seeing at eye level or up above. Other cities are removing these devices because of litigation issues regarding maintenance. We would like to continue this item to the next Traffic and Transportation Commission meeting to allow to notice 300-foot radius but will receive public comment tonight.

Commissioner Salas commented that it was a great system and was self explanatory. His only concern is the trees overgrowing. He also recommended that parents at Sycamore be notified along with the 300-foot radius.

Commissioner Brunasso thought it was a good idea that signage be placed further up the street to let them know a crosswalk is up ahead.

Chair Poy opened the public comment.

J. Monroe believes a car is a guest in this community, far too many people have not come to this realization. There is nothing to ameliorate the speeds of vehicles from Foothill to Eighth Street. Getting to cross the street to get to the park requires pedestrians to go to 8th Street.

Ray Fowler, representing Protect Our Neighborhoods, believes if Judy Wright is behind it must be a good idea. He believes that flashing lights may be detrimental to the environment and have an adverse effect to a historical neighborhood district. There is nothing more detrimental than a blinking light in the night. He indicated that he was not sure if this would be exempt from CEQA requirements.

Carolyn Monroe stated that she has lived on Indian Hill for 31 years and has seen a lot of traffic. She advocates more Police Department patrolling because they can cite a lot of speeders.

No one else wished to speak. Chair Poy closed the public comment.

Commissioner Salas moved that the Traffic and Transportation Commission continue the item for lack of proper notification seconded by Commissioner Brunasso and carried on the following vote.

AYES - Commissioners Rinde, McLoughlin, Salas, Poy, Gonzalez, Brunasso
NOES - None
ABSTAINED - Commissioner Cole

The crosswalk matter has been listed as an upcoming agenda item for the Traffic and Transporation Commission ever since 1/22/09. No word of if staff had started the CEQA initial study prior to yesterday's accident.

Here's the latest agenda for the 4/23/09 meeting. The crosswalk is item B at the end of document.