On the last day of September, Maria Banda and her husband Agustin were hit crossing the intersection of 28th Northeast and Northeast 125th Street in the Lake City neighborhood in the north end of Seattle.
There is no marked crosswalk or pedestrian signals to help people get to the Lake City branch of the Seattle City Library or the Lake City Community Center.
The couple was crossing the street to get to the community center when they were hit. The vehicle’s driver sped off, and has not been identified.
People in this community have long complained about the lack of and condition of the sidewalks, the dangerous crossings and fast traffic. This was at least the second traffic-related death in the area in the past six months.
A week after the recent hit-and-run pedestrian death, the Seattle Department of Transportation said that they plan on redesigning this intersection in 2020.
“We are saddened to learn of this tragic incident. Prioritizing safety for all of our residents is why we are fast-tracking a new pedestrian signal and crosswalk at the intersection of 28th Ave NE and NE 125th Street,”
– Ethan Bergerson, SDOT spokesman
When the law requires pedestrian safety enhancements
It is fair to say that the City cannot simultaneosly redesign and repair every intersection and crosswalk in Seattle. However, the pedestrian death on NE 125th Street reminded me of a similar incident involving my client Nick.
Several years ago, Nick was crossing a busy Seattle street that did not have a marked crosswalk or pedestrian signals – just like the street where the Bandas were hit.
Nick was hit by a car. He had very serious, life-altering injuries.
But unlike in the Banda’s situation, the driver who struck Nick remained at the scene. We were ultimately able to obtain his insurance policy limits to help Nick with some of his medical bills.
Then, we filed a claim against the City of Seattle. Because even before Nick was hit by a car, the volume of pedestrians required the City to put in pedestrian safety enhancements – and they had not done it.
It was a hard-fought case and the City would argue that they could not make every unmarked crosswalk safe. We were able to obtain a successful settlement for Nick, by establishing the unmarked crosswalk had met the criteria requiring that the City install pedestrian safety enhancements.
I can’t say if the Banda’s situation is similar, or if pedestrian safety enhancements should be required at the intersection by the Lake City Branch of the Seattle Public Library.
That would need to be determined by a careful review, experts and consideration of what the City was aware of in terms of pedestrian volumes prior to the incident.
But it does look like NE Seattle intersection where the Bandas were struck is a recommended route on The Seattle Walking Map from SDOT. A map “designed to help Seattle residents and visitors choose a walking route that best suits their interests and fitness level.”
For the sake of Seattle residents walking to and from the library and Lake City Community Center, I hope SDOT and the City of Seattle figure it out and fix it before another pedestrian death at that intersection—especially since they are recommending it as a walking route.
– Attorney Kevin Coluccio, Seattle Washington
A few years ago, we decided to change the way we talk about predictable, preventable “car accidents”.