Second crash involving homeless pedestrian prompts councilmember to advocate for crosswalk near shelter

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UPDATE 1/06/2020: The Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) and the City of South Salt Lake announced Monday a number of safety improvements for pedestrians would be made along 3300 South near the new Men’s Resource Center.

The improvements include:

  • New electronic message signs installed this week to advise drivers to use caution and be alert for pedestrians
  • Additional signs, signals, and lighting in the area of 3300 South and 1000 West
  • Safety-related outreach among vulnerable populations in the area
  • A new pedestrian-activated signal to stop traffic for foot traffic to cross
  • Additional lighting at nearby intersections and along the road
  • Relocation of the nearby UTA transit stop
  • New portable signs to alert drivers of their current speed
  • Ongoing coordination with South Salt Lake law enforcement and public works

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SOUTH SALT LAKE (ABC4 News) – Nearly two months after the Men’s Homeless Resource Center opened in South Salt Lake, there have been two critical auto-pedestrian crashes involving a homeless person within a mile and half of the shelter. Councilmember Corey Thomas said it’s a sobering reminder that more needs to be done to improve pedestrian safety in the area.

“With the shelter now open, there’s going to be an increase in foot traffic,” said Thomas. “It gets really dark early in the winter. I don’t think drivers realize people are out, walking around because it’s so cold. But we do have a lot of foot traffic out in this weather and drivers need to be aware of that and not be on their phone.”

Back on November 26, South Salt Lake police said a man, who appeared to be a transient on his way to the homeless shelter, was hit and killed by a car while trying to cross in the middle of the block. The crash occurred at 3300 South 900 West, less than half a mile from the shelter.

Wednesday night, investigators said a homeless man in a wheelchair was hit by a pickup truck and critically injured around 10:20 p.m. near 3330 South 300 West. Exclusive surveillance video provided to ABC4 News shows that the 43-year-old man was going northbound on 300 West before he was hit. It is unclear if he was in the shoulder or the road.

“From my other camera view, you could see how far he actually slid and the guy in the wheelchair, he flew clear out past our mailboxes on the other side of the entrance to the Walton park here,” said Phil Tate, owner of nearby business Sticks and Stones Cabinets and Granite.

Executive Officer Gary Keller with South Salt Lake Police said the investigation is still on-going and at this time, they don’t know why the man was in the road. He said the man hit was not a patron of the shelter.

“We run into this problem with people crossing mid-block, in the middle of the block and with that, people/drivers don’t expect somebody to come out into traffic at those locations,” he said. “I can’t speak enough about when you’re driving, you really have to watch the sides of the road, especially in that industrial area. People, for whatever reason, may not be using the sidewalk and you just have to be aware of your surroundings when you’re driving.”

Tate believes the man may have been in the road because of the weather conditions.

“The sidewalk stops at the end of our business and then it’s just asphalt. Right there on that asphalt, there’s quite a large puddle that usually forms every time it rains or snow,” said Tate. “I don’t know if this might have caused him to get away from the sidewalk and into the roadway. It’s hard to see on the video footage.”

Thomas has been advocating for pedestrian safety for the past two years in her position as a city councilmember and successfully obtained funding for improvements to the crosswalk at 3000 South State Street. She said that’s just the beginning of her efforts.

“Every time I hear someone getting injured or killed in a crosswalk or as a pedestrian, it devastates me,” she said. “I believe we need to get the crosswalk put in over by the homeless shelter on 10th West. I have spoken with UDOT and we’ve discussed that process. In the past, the council has unanimously approved to fund and help improve crosswalks that the city owns.”

Exec. Officer Keller said the man, who has not been identified, is still in critical condition. At this time, it is not known whether the driver will face charges.

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