Update: California reopens after pedestrian hit north of Junction

(scroll down for updates, including new info from police added at 11:23 am)

(photo added 8:28 am)
ORIGINAL 8:14 AM REPORT: California is closed at Dakota, north of The Junction, because of an emergency response; tipster Alison says a pedestrian was hit – we are en route to find out more. 8:20 AM: Arriving on scene – the closure is from Genesee to Dakota. Clear signs of a police investigation, which appears to be centered on the west side of the street. 8:38 AM: Some info from police on the scene – a pedestrian was indeed hit and has been taken to Harborview Medical Center. Still sorting out the circumstances; the street will remain closed a while because they are waiting for collision investigators to arrive. 8:50 AM: More info from police at the scene: The victim is a woman who was crossing at the corner, though they haven’t figured out yet whether east to west or west to east. The car that was involved can be seen nearby, with visible front-end damage. We are checking with the Fire Department, whose crew took the victim to the hospital, to see if they have any idea regarding the seriousness of her injuries. 9:40 AM: The collision investigators have arrived (see photo below). Authorities still don’t have official information on how the victim is doing, though police tell us this particular investigation team usually is only called to incidents involving serious injuries (or worse). No ETA on the street reopening but we will keep checking – please share word if you are nearby and see it reopen, as you’ll probably notice it first.

10:53 AM: Thanks to Julie for first word that California has reopened at the scene. 11:23 AM: We now have the police’s official summary, as it stands, from SPD media unit Det. Mark Jamieson: Around quarter till 8, an 81-year-old woman driving a Saturn was headed south on California at Dakota when she hit a 53-year-old woman who was crossing, headed west. The victim was taken to Harborview with what police describe as “serious head and leg injuries.” Investigators interviewed the driver but have not arrested or cited her – whether any charges result from the crash will depend on further evaluation by investigators, which often takes months in cases like this. Det. Jamieson did say that after an evaluation of the driver, they do not believe alcohol or drugs were involved. 12:16 PM: The official police account is also up at SPDBlotter – same details we added an hour ago (the media unit writes SPDBlotter), with the addition of “failure to yield” as a potential factor.

54 Replies to "Update: California reopens after pedestrian hit north of Junction"

  • Westside Love January 12, 2010 (8:31 am)

    I drove by right after it happened this morning….I believe the person that was hit was riding a bicycle. Very sad. I hope she’s okay.

    • WSB January 12, 2010 (8:56 am)

      Westside – we’ll ask about the bicycle. None mentioned in our conversations with authorities so far but that could just be because we didn’t ask about one – TR
      (added 9:08) – Police on scene say no bicycle involved.

  • sillygoose January 12, 2010 (8:34 am)

    I was just there dropping off my daughter for school and saw no pedestrain or ambulance for that matter. It is the worst intersection with 6 schools right there. I was instrumental in getting the traffice light at Genesse and California installed along with HR Principal but there also needs to be turn arrows installed.

  • GenHillOne January 12, 2010 (8:45 am)

    busses are rerouting onto 44th, southbound anyway

  • WSB January 12, 2010 (8:47 am)

    “Sillygoose,” the 911 log says the call first opened at 7:44 am and the pedestrian likely was rushed off to the hospital pretty fast – certainly before we got there, since we got word of it at 8:05 and it takes us a few minutes to head north to The Junction – TR

  • Megan January 12, 2010 (8:48 am)

    I hope no one was hurt but I also hope this brings some attention to how dangerous this intersection is. I have seen so many close calls here.

  • Gina January 12, 2010 (8:56 am)

    The 7:41 55 had to stop for about 5 minutes to get approval to turn off California at Genessee–There were several cars and a school bus in the cordoned off area, and a ladder truck and regular fire truck that I could see. Quick response to the call!

  • Schmoopie January 12, 2010 (9:11 am)

    When our son attended Pathfinder, at their old location, we used to walk across California right there. Even when we used the flags, cars didn’t see us. It was scary! Sending good thoughts for the person who was hit.

  • Genesee Neighbor January 12, 2010 (9:28 am)

    I live near this intersection and it is especially dangerous in the morning with all the parents racing to drop off their kids and everyone else is racing to work. I hope the person hit is ok.

  • mike lindblom January 12, 2010 (9:28 am)

    This is one of many seattle intersections that look safer than it is. sight lines are mediocre and there’s so much activity. my kids cross at the genessee light not at dakota. and assume every car will hit you until they prove otherwise.

  • Ryan January 12, 2010 (9:37 am)

    It took a few minutes to get the person in the ambulance and I could see them working on the person in the ambulance for a few minutes before it left for the hospital. I hope the fact that the ambulance took a while to leave is a good sign. I didn’t get a good look at the victim. It was still dark when this happened. The car that hit the person has a completely smashed windshield and some serious denting on the hood.

  • GenHillOne January 12, 2010 (9:41 am)

    Wet, dark weather does not make this crosswalk any better either.

    Thanks for the updates on the victim’s description. It helped us to “account” for our neighbors that we know cross around this time, but truly hope she is okay.

  • Vanessa January 12, 2010 (9:44 am)

    I drove by at 7:40~then called 911. Older woman lying completely still in the median with her belongings strewn around her, no bicycle though.

  • Carrie Ann January 12, 2010 (10:25 am)

    I live right there (42nd, between Dakota and Andover) and drove past this scene when coming back from dropping my daughter off at school this morning. They’d already transported the woman to the hospital, so I wasn’t sure if it was something involving a car, pedestrian, or if perhaps the bank had been robbed.
    I agree that this intersection is a scary one to try and cross. I’ve done so with my kids, many times, and am always a little on edge. We wait until cars are stopped in both directions, hold onto a couple flags (when they’re available on the side we’re crossing from), and still do our best to hurry across.
    Sending good thoughts to the woman (and the driver, since we don’t know the details at this time, and I can only imagine what they might be going through) Really hoping she pulls through this OK.

  • Sara January 12, 2010 (10:26 am)

    So very sad. I truly hope the victim is ok and recovers quickly. Thank you for all the updates WSB (and everyone’s comments!)

  • newnative January 12, 2010 (10:27 am)

    I walked by about 9:50am and saw a cop doing a “neuro” check on an elderly lady. Don’t know who she was and how she was related to the accident. She was giggly and alert.

  • austin January 12, 2010 (10:38 am)

    Scary, as a constant pedestrian and this is part of my regular walk, this one hits close to home literally and figuratively. Best wishes for the injured. Take a little time citizens!

  • Julie January 12, 2010 (10:45 am)

    Taking down the “do not cross” tape now.

    • WSB January 12, 2010 (10:47 am)

      thanks, Julie!

  • Julie January 12, 2010 (10:47 am)

    Street is now open.

  • Frogger January 12, 2010 (12:33 pm)

    I am usually at this intersection for the bus at the time this happened and see a lot of people crossing to get to school and work. I also see a lot of drivers speed through the cross walk, ignoring pedestrians trying to cross; drivers who drive up to the very edge of the crosswalk when someone is crossing; and drivers who make really risky decisions in entering or crossing traffic on California. Most of these drivers are not elderly, but harried commuters and parents. Not to imply pedestrians can’t make poor decisions, but cars typically do much more damage. Everyone, pedestrians and drivers, need to be paying attention to each other.

  • Wes Addle January 12, 2010 (12:35 pm)

    I really hope that the “giggly” elderly lady newnative’s referring to wasn’t the driver. Seems slightly inappropriate.

  • WSB January 12, 2010 (1:43 pm)

    No idea if that was the person involved. Co-publisher Patrick, who was at the scene for WSB and phoning updates to me back here at the desk, saw police talking with someone who appeared more shaken up. But one thing to keep in mind, re “giggles” or any other way of interpreting a reaction or condition – If you are in shock after a serious incident, you can behave in any number of seemingly inappropriate ways. Hitting someone and having them bounce off your windshield would certainly hold the potential of putting you into shock = TR

  • Nobody January 12, 2010 (1:43 pm)

    Austin, I’m glad to take a little time. Help me out and look both ways before you cross and I bet we both make it on time and safely.

  • Diane January 12, 2010 (2:02 pm)

    ditto wsb re “giggles” as sign of shock
    or, my first thought at seeing “giggles”, could be sign of medical issues that caused driver to hit ped

  • bongo January 12, 2010 (2:18 pm)

    Should probably be a traffic light at this spot… it is way too dangerous with the amount of traffic that goes down that street and all the people looking right when trying to turn left (south) off Dakota onto California — or vice versa on the West side of California trying to turn right onto California from Dakota. Drivers are looking for oncoming cars driving down California before turning off Dakota and it doesn’t leave a lot of attention to folks who happen to try to cross the street right at the moment someone decides it is safe to turn. I live down the street and used to drive this way but stopped because of the traffic issue and the pedestrian hazards — I’ve come close to turning into the crosswalk when someone was walking across so it scared me… I go another way to get to California if I know it is close to school starting or ending or if there is clearly school activity or church activites going on. There really needs to be a better solution than just a crosswalk — either take the crosswalk away and make folks cross someplace else, or put a light or stop sign or something in to make sure folks are safe. I feel badly for the driver and the person who got hit of course.

  • Julie January 12, 2010 (2:34 pm)

    I was walking southbound on the west side of California and heard the impact, looked up to see the victim spin over the car and through the air before she landed on the pavement in the center lane just south of the crosswalk. Several people stopped to help including the bicyclist, whose bicycle had nothing to do with the accident. I called 911 immediately, and another woman with great composure knelt by the woman, checking her condition, so we could relay the information to the dispatcher. She was unconscious at first, but by the time the medics arrived (very quick, although it always feels like an eternity) she was moaning and complaining loudly about her leg. The woman who checked the victim’s condition was fabulous in her response. Didn’t get her name but many kudos to her.

    When I attempted to cross California later today just north of the Post Office with the traffic light and crosswalk, a car nearly plowed through its red light before I flagged it down.

    Please, drivers and pedestrians alike, be mindful! This was a horrible thing to witness.

  • I. Ponder January 12, 2010 (3:07 pm)

    After reading the first-hand report, I am just plain angry. While it’s possible this was a true accident, most of the time it’s driver negligence. Not paying attention, talking on phone, yelling at kids in backseat, or even text-messaging.

    Drivers rarely stop for pedestrians in crosswalks, and almost never for pedestrians crossing at corners (who still have the right of way).

    Unless a pedestrian runs out in front of your car, it’s the driver’s fault.

    • WSB January 12, 2010 (4:28 pm)

      I-Ponder – A side note from what you write. This is why in newswriting you learn to avoid the word “accident,” until and unless you have a ruling that something was truly accidental. And there are some circumstances that can never be judged as such – for example, drunk/drugged driving. It can be argued that anything resulting from that can NEVER be termed an accident – since the person chose to drink/drug and drive. Anyway, it’s why you’ll see “crash” or “collision” here, and if you ever see “accident” in a story without authorities having ruled something “accidental,” please call us (or whomever wrote it!) on it … TR

  • Manolita January 12, 2010 (3:13 pm)

    I see a lot of people behind the wheel that seem a little too old to be driving around…

  • austin January 12, 2010 (3:25 pm)

    I find it odd that an anonymous person feels the need to address me personally in these comments. Do I personally get in the way of your automobile by way of my negligence? If so, how do you know it was me specifically, and why choose to remain anonymous yourself? I prefer that if drivers have a problem with the way I conduct myself as a pedestrian they pull over and discuss it with me in person.

  • KBear January 12, 2010 (3:36 pm)

    Austin, if you’re referring to the comment from “Nobody”, I didn’t read that as a personal criticism of you. It sounded to me like they just wanted to point out that pedestrians and drivers all need to be more careful.

  • beba January 12, 2010 (4:22 pm)

    I agree with “bongo” that there should be a traffic light at this spot… it is way too dangerous!!!! Especially for kids walking to and from school!!! My kids and I had a few close calls crossing California Ave. We are not encouraging our kids to walk to school. Ignoring this issue will cause somebody to be killed.

  • Diane January 12, 2010 (5:01 pm)

    and even in many cases where authorities rule it “accidental”, I beg to differ (i.e., many children have been run over in their own driveways, or left in cars by parents/caregivers who just forgot, or did not look; media/police often call these accidents; NOT; these are more examples of easily preventable injuries/death)

  • creepmeout January 12, 2010 (5:23 pm)

    A lot of young people ought not be behind a wheel either…age has little to do with the number of accidents out there.It would seem many of us are not careful enough or these things would rarely happen instead of being so common.

    I hope the woman that was hit is going to be alright and that the person that hit her is also.

  • I. Ponder January 12, 2010 (5:26 pm)

    Hi TR:

    I appreciate what you wrote, as it reflects well on your journalistic professionalism. On the other hand, I believe “car accident” is part of our vocabulary, and the default is that it’s something unavoidable. In my opinion anyway.

    I believe many/most drivers assume they have the right of way under all conditions. Most do not stop for pedestrians in crosswalks even though they must know it’s law by now. Just the dark side of human nature I suppose.

  • Julie January 12, 2010 (6:09 pm)

    I’ve tried to banish “car accident” from my vocabulary in favor of “collision”, because, except in the case of, say, a meteor strike, earthquake, lightning strike, heart attack, etc., they could always, at least theoretically, be prevented–and all of us who use the roadway in any capacity are responsible for preventing accidents.

  • Civik January 12, 2010 (6:12 pm)

    Well you could always term it an “Incident” until more information is known.

    Something I do notice while driving is many pedestrians not taking advantage of the bright orange flags while wearing darker clothing on these dreary days. Unless you see no cars coming, always assume they cannot see you. I know I do!

  • westseattleperson January 12, 2010 (7:40 pm)

    My sympathy to both the victim and driver. However, Wanted to comment that I can’t tell you how many times I see pedestrians not paying attention to cars/surroundings when they are crossing the street. I see people walked with their heads down or talking on the cell phone. Some folks seem to also wear really dark clothing, which makes them that much harder to see. Even though legally pedistrians in the crosswalk are in the right, that won’t guarantee they won’t get hit (being in the right in this case won’t save your life). Please tell your family and friends to pay attention when crossing the street, including paying attention to cars behind them (a car might be turning into the intersection behind the pedestrian in the crosswalk). Also, if you are out walking, consider getting a reflective coat – when it is rainy and dark it is really difficult for even a cautious driver to see people. An acquaintance of ours was hit by a car while walking two month’s ago and is still hospitalized and may not recover. Not paying attention crossing the street just once can cost you your life.

  • bongo January 12, 2010 (8:32 pm)

    There are many states where the pedestrian is not in the right of way, even in a cross walk — and I believe that if you are wise, you will realize that even if you have the right of way — you will always lose to a car or truck. So, even if you are crossing in a cross walk, you should never never NEVER rely on the car/truck to stop — you need to always be defensive and realize that the person driving can kill you if they are not paying attention, don’t see you, are talking on their cell phone, are just distracted… accident perhaps, I doubt that the driver intentionally ran over the other woman pedestrian — so even if it was negligence, it was still an accident of sorts. Vert sad but I am not surprised because this intersection/cross walk is not safe — anyone who lives near or drives this way regularly knows it is dangerous. Please, if you are visiting other states in the US, make sure you know the laws — in most of Texas for sure you will get run over if you think you are safe in a cross walk.

  • jedifarfy January 12, 2010 (11:05 pm)

    Yesterday was the 10th anniversary of my friend dying after being hit by a car. Based on first hand accounts, I have hope that this victim will pull through.

  • austin January 13, 2010 (9:21 am)

    Drivers blaming people’s clothing for their inattentiveness is pathetic. If you can’t see a human sized object in the road unless it’s bright and flashing at you, you shouldn’t be behind the wheel.

  • westside1 January 13, 2010 (9:38 am)

    Pedestrians have the RIGHT OF WAY and that’s it. I don’t care how late you are getting your latte or whatever. It’s the LAW, not a matter of “if you feel like stopping!”

    An eariler entry was right, there are many schools within those few blocks. That means there are posted speed limit signs of 20 MPH when children are present. Please obey them!

  • spike January 13, 2010 (11:06 am)

    Any word on how she is doing?

    • WSB January 13, 2010 (11:18 am)

      Spike – unless someone who knows her comments here, we won’t have access to that information; without a name, media generally can’t get condition info from the hospital, and even with a name, privacy laws allow the patient/family to keep that info from being released. We’ll ask Harborview anyway, just in case they do have something to say publicly … tr

  • tutu January 13, 2010 (12:15 pm)

    I am in no way blaming this pedestrian for getting hit yesterday, I have no idea what the circumstances were, so please do not take my warning here as blaming. That being said…cars and trucks will almost always cause great bodily injury or death if they hit you no matter if you are in the RIGHT or not (westside1 and austin), sure, you are RIGHT that people SHOULD stop for pedestrians, but RIGHT doesn’t mean squat in what actually happens out on the roads — so do not count on people to respect you in a crosswalk because if they do not see you or choose to speed or get distracted or whatever, you will not care if you were RIGHT because you will be in hospital. Please advise your children and friends/family to not ever count on vehicles stopping. And btw, there have been many times that I have almost hit a person stepping off a curb in dark clothing with a hood pulled over their heads at night — sure, I could see them, but just in the nick of time — I drive carefully, but if a person steps out in front of you in dark clothing… well they are being not safe and taking a huge risk. And just yesterday a jogger w/some ear buds in, ran out in the intersection in front of me as I approached the intersection– I had a stop sign and stopped, but she had no idea if I was paying attention or was drunk or whatever.. she was counting on a thousand plus pound vehicle with a flawed human (yes we are all) to stop and spare her life. Look both ways and make sure you have time to cross regardless of a stop sign, cross walk, or marked intersection — you will not win if the person fails to respect the law or does not see you in time. I feel so badly for everyone involved in this because I almost am 100% certain that the lady who was in the car, will never get over this and perhaps she was negligent and perhaps it was an accident, but it still is a tragedy. Hoping the woman taken to the hospital is a survivor and recovers.

  • Rats in a cage January 13, 2010 (12:35 pm)

    There have been many crosswalk incidents and deaths between Admiral and Westwood in the past couple of years. What say ye is the reason? Development/Density? Driver error? Coincidence?

    Just curious because knowing why this happens will help make this more preventable. Atleast I hope so. Thougts and prayers to this most recent tragic incident and all the others who have been maimed and killed these past few years on Admiral, 35th, and Barton to name a few.

  • MJK January 13, 2010 (12:48 pm)

    The victim is now out of intensive care.

  • Steph in WS January 13, 2010 (12:48 pm)

    I agree with westseattleperson. I don’t know how many times I am going the speed limit and a person is not looking when they dart out on to the street. Good thing I am quick-footed. The inattention goes both ways.

  • NiceSeattle January 13, 2010 (1:02 pm)

    Yesterday was the anniversary of my friend’s permanent brain injury. Chances are the the victim will never be the same, brain injuries change you forever.

    Automatic license revocation is the place to BEGIN.

  • rulefollower January 13, 2010 (1:59 pm)

    To Westside1 while Pedestrians are the typical loser in an incident like this there are rules that pedestrians must follow as well that I frequently see broken. Such as it is against the law to start across a crosswalk after the hand starts flashing and you can be ticketed for it. The reason for this is to allow right and left hand turners to clear the intersection on the green light. I frequently see pedestrians running across the street right before the light changes, as my neighbor learned when she was struck doing this that she was at fault. Not to diminish the tragedy but as a pedestrian who lives near an intersection where someone was killed I made sure I knew what my rights were and was surprised to find that there are pedestrian laws as well.

  • westseattleperson January 13, 2010 (9:49 pm)

    Maybe off-topic, but comments remind me also that one of the other issues with driving in West Seattle is that there seems to be more than a few bicyclist riders (I have no idea what percentage) who are what I consider reckless. They run stop signs (a few years ago I came close to one who ran one and it really scared me), at a red light, they bicycle ahead of the stopped cars to get to the front of the cars and then jack rabbit as soon as the light turns green, etc. I’ve never seen police ticket these folks in (West Seattle) with a ticket infraction, which might work to deter future reckless cycling. Why is that? I thought that the police dept. relied on revenue so I don’t why this is. Does anybody know why? Has anybody seen a cyclist get ticketed in West Seattle? By the way, for those of you who do cycle obeying the traffic rules – thank you!

  • Friend January 13, 2010 (9:57 pm)

    I spoke to her earlier this evening. She said she can’t move her arms or legs and is in tremendous pain. She had surgery in the afternoon on her legs, but I didn’t get into details as she needed to rest. This couldn’t have happened to a nicer person. Very very sad!

  • A Neighbor January 17, 2010 (8:26 am)

    I am relieved to hear that she survived! Thank you so much for the update. I was at the scene immediately after it happened – though did not see it occur. I am always amazed at the kindness and compassion of individuals, it is one the thing that I love most about West Seattlelites: The women who made the phone call to 911, the several people who stopped and helped – a woman found a blanket to put on her until the ambulance got there, the fire/ medics and police department who responded so quickly, professionally, and took care of her with such great care! They had her in route to the hospital within minutes! So many lives where are changed in one moment – my prayers and empathy go out to the victim, to woman and the young girl in the car, to those who professionals who give of themselves daily to protect and help us, and to all those who took time out of their day to care for another individual.

Sorry, comment time is over.