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(Steve Griffin | The Salt Lake Tribune) A crosswalk was installed at the intersection of Wall Avenue and Binford Avenue last year in Ogden, as shown on Wednesday, Aug. 6, 2014. Several pedestrians have been hit on Wall Avenue while trying to cross the five-lane road between 26th and 27th streets.
After five deaths, simple change is saving lives on Utah roadway
First Published Aug 11 2014 01:01 am • Last Updated Aug 17 2014 06:02 pm

Ogden » Lately, it’s been nearly the same every day. From inside St. Anne’s Center, executive director Jennifer Canter hears the screech of brakes.

Sometimes she hears the crunch of bumpers colliding.

At a glance

Auto-pedestrian accidents on Wall Avenue

Since 2009, seven pedestrians have been hit while crossing Wall Avenue between 26th and 28th Streets.

» Dec. 16, 2010: Frank Gallegos was struck and killed while crossing in the intersection of Wall Avenue and 28th Street. The driver fled after the accident, according to media reports, but came forward to police several days later.

» May 12, 2011: A woman was “bumped” by a vehicle while crossing Wall Avenue near 26th Street, according to a police report. She reported that she had a bruised leg, and asked to be taken to a hospital.

» Jan. 21, 2012: A pedestrian was taken to the hospital with a broken leg after being struck by a car on Wall Avenue.

» Dec. 24, 2012: David Saures was struck and killed while crossing Wall Avenue in the 2600 block. The driver who struck Saures drove off, and was never located.

» Feb. 25, 2013: Daniel Thobe was struck and killed crossing Wall Avenue near 26th Street.

» June 2013: Crosswalk is erected on Wall Avenue near Binford Avenue.

» Nov. 21, 2013: Tiffany Phipps was walking in the Binford Avenue crosswalk with a man when were both struck. She later died. The driver told police that “he did not see the pedestrians until it was too late,” according to police reports.

» Dec. 18, 2013: A man walking mid-block on Wall Avenue near 28th Street was struck and killed. The driver told police that “she never saw him until she hit him,” according to a police report.

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She automatically knows: Someone’s in the crosswalk. A driver suddenly stopped. Often, the driver behind doesn’t.

The damage to the cars is unfortunate, Canter said, but she’s grateful that it’s not another pedestrian hit by a car.

In recent years, several people — many of them clients of the homeless shelter — have been struck and killed by motorists while walking across Wall Avenue, one of Ogden’s main thoroughfares.

A crosswalk installed last year has helped, but even after the lines were painted on the asphalt, two more people died while crossing the state-owned road.

It’s a problem that has shaken the homeless population in Ogden.

"It’s been devastating to some of our clients [when a pedestrian is hit]," she said. "We’ve had to have grief counselors."

Canter said it’s difficult for pedestrians to cross through five lanes of traffic, with cars traveling between 40 mph and 50 mph, to reach the shelter, at 137 W. Binford Ave. Pedestrians have to walk nearly three blocks north or south to reach the nearest stoplight intersection.

"They are all coming here because they sleep here," Canter said. "They eat here. There’s no safe access [to the facility without crossing Wall Avenue.]"

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Since 2009, Ogden police have responded to seven auto-pedestrian accidents in a two-block stretch of Wall Avenue. Five people died in those accidents.

According to police reports obtained by The Salt Lake Tribune through a records request, most accidents occurred in the winter months between 6 and 7 p.m.

Police officers noted in reports filed in three of the fatal accidents that the pedestrians were walking across the road in the middle of a street block — not near an intersection and not in a crosswalk.

"Generally, it is the pedestrian that is at fault when they are crossing the roadway at locations other than marked crosswalks or unmarked crosswalks at intersections," Ogden police Lt. Kevin Cottrell said. "When pedestrians are hit within the crosswalk, it is generally the driver of the automobile at fault."

"It wasn’t enough" » After David Saures was killed while walking across Wall Avenue near 26th Street on Christmas Eve in 2012, the Utah Department of Transportation conducted a traffic study. According to that study, UDOT’s criteria for installing a crosswalk requires that 20 pedestrians cross the street per hour. When UDOT employees observed the area, they found that 51 pedestrians crossed Wall Avenue between 5 and 6 p.m. and 66 people crossed between 7 and 8 a.m.

After UDOT concluded that one was needed, a crosswalk was painted and yellow pedestrian crossing signs were erected in the summer of 2013 at the Binford and Wall avenues intersection.

"The crosswalk certainly was helpful," Canter said. "But it wasn’t enough."

Since the crosswalk was installed, two people have died while crossing Wall Avenue between 26th and 28th Streets — Tiffany Phipps, 32, who was walking in the crosswalk when she was struck in November, and a man whose name was redacted from police reports, killed in December 2013 after crossing midblock near 27th Street.

After Phipps’ death, Canter said UDOT quickly added overhead lights that illuminated the street and flashing lights on the pedestrian crossing signs.

"The crosswalk, frankly, didn’t do anything," Canter said. "It was the lights. Once the lights were installed, we haven’t had anyone hit in the crosswalk."

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