Pedestrian crashes make up large part of fatalities: ‘We are in a day in age of distracted driving’

Pedestrians make their way across Main Street in Downtown Dayton Wednesday morning Jan. 19, 2022. 
JIM NOELKER/STAFF

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Pedestrians make their way across Main Street in Downtown Dayton Wednesday morning Jan. 19, 2022. JIM NOELKER/STAFF

A quarter of Dayton’s fatal crashes in 2021 involved a pedestrian and officials say that distracted driving and people not properly using crosswalks are some of the reasons why.

There were seven fatal vehicle vs. pedestrian crashes in 2021, many of which were preventable, Dayton Police Sgt. Gordon Cairns said.

“Looking at last year and some of our accidents, obviously the big one is using the crosswalks and making sure you are using them appropriately,” he said. “Making sure you have the correct walk signal or walk light and even if you have that still looking for traffic. We are in a day in age of distracted driving. People are on cellphones and they might not be looking up and they run a red light and now they are struck.”

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Overall, there were 26 people killed in crashes in Dayton in 2021. There were eight fatal pedestrian crashes in Dayton in 2020.

Cairns said cases last year included pedestrians who were in a hurry and not paying attention before being struck by a vehicle. He said even if a pedestrian is crossing the street legally, it’s in their best interest to always stay alert because they are the ones who will most likely be injured if a collision between them and a vehicle takes place.

He also said hit and runs took place and police are still investigating a crash that was discovered on Free Pike in December but believed to have taken place months before. The victim, Richard Hunt, 53, was found lying in the woodline on Dec. 7 at about 4:30 p.m.

“The Montgomery County Coroner’s Office advised that the injuries sustained by the victim are consistent with a pedestrian strike vehicle collision,” a crash report says.

The report says it is unknown which direction the vehicle or Hunt were traveling, but the driver did not stay at the scene of the crash as is required by law. Cairns said DPD is asking for the public’s help to identify the driver and anyone with information about suspicious damage to a vehicle is asked to contact police.

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Why motorists drive away from accidents vary, Cairns said, but at the minimum, when there is a crash a motorist needs to stay on the scene, check out the damage caused and exchange information if necessary.

“A lot of times we have to speculate, they don’t have a license or they’re scared or they may have been drinking and they’re scared of the consequences of drinking,” the sergeant said. “Sometimes people don’t know what they struck.”

He said there have been cases when a motorist drives off from a fatal crash when it doesn’t appear to be their fault. Cairns said that is illegal and could lead to felony charges against the driver.

Along with what appeared to be accidental crashes in 2021, Cairns said there is a case where one fatal crash appears to be intentional. He said people need to remember that using a vehicle as a weapon is a serious crime and can lead to aggravated felony charges.


Number of fatal crashes in Dayton over the last five years

2017 6

2018 5

2019 0

2020 8

2021 7

Dayton Police Department

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