Tatsuo Nakata tribute, & traffic-light campaign, Monday morning

Early this Monday morning (November 28), you are invited to join the Admiral Neighborhood Association for an event at 47th/Admiral, the intersection where an inattentive driver hit and killed Tatsuo Nakata five years ago this month. We mentioned the plan in our coverage of ANA’s most recent meeting, and just confirmed with association president Katy Walum that the event is on. She says, “We are inviting all interested community members (young and old) to meet up at Alki Mail and Dispatch at 7am for a peaceful celebration of the memory of Tatsuo Nakata, and demonstration to our City’s leaders that we still have an all-too dangerous intersection in our neighborhood. We will have signs for folks to hold, light sticks and necklaces for the kids, and Don at Alki Mail has graciously offered to provide coffee and cocoa.” Read on for the official news release/announcement they are distributing:

The Admiral Neighborhood Association is organizing a tribute at 7:00 a.m. on Monday, November 28th, at 47th Avenue SW and SW Admiral Way to commemorate the fifth anniversary of the passing of West Seattle traffic victim, Tatsuo Nakata.

Matthew “Tatsuo” Nakata, a Seattle City Council staffer, was struck and killed by an errant driver on Tuesday, November 14, 2006 when Nakata attempted to walk through the marked crosswalk at the intersection of 47th Avenue SW. Mr. Nakata had the right of way.

Because of this tragedy, the Admiral Neighborhood Association and West Seattle neighbors installed and now maintain pedestrian crossing flags in the area where the accident occurred. The Seattle Department of Transportation also completed its previously-planned installation of curb “bulb-outs,” refurbished overhead pedestrian crossing sign, and signs directing drivers where to stop for pedestrians.

The crosswalk connects to a popular route for neighborhood elementary, middle and high schools. Additionally, a medical recuperation center, business center/coffee-shop, and a prominent multi-route METRO bus stop are connected by the crosswalk.

The gathering will also serve to bring critical awareness and support for a traffic light in that area.

The Admiral Neighborhood Association is currently undertaking lobbying efforts to the Seattle City Council and Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn for one of two annual traffic light installations the city performs on needy intersections in Seattle.

The driver who hit and killed Mr. Nakata, Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz, got a deferred sentence. He no longer lives or works in West Seattle.

13 Replies to "Tatsuo Nakata tribute, & traffic-light campaign, Monday morning"

  • DY November 26, 2011 (3:32 pm)

    There definitely needs to be a traffic light at this intersection soon before someone else is injured, or worse. This is my neighborhood, I drive this route daily, and I have personally witnessed numerous close-calls, one just the other night at dusk. Traffic lights do not cost THAT much money and this is one of the most dangerous intersections in the city…

  • JN November 26, 2011 (6:05 pm)

    I second the need for a traffic light here. People speed through this intersection constantly, and almost never yield for pedestrians.

  • Mike November 26, 2011 (9:26 pm)

    There is something about the layout and driver perspective on this intersection which makes it very dangerous. I have driven thru it thousands of times over the years, and it still surprises me. This kind of perceptual issue doesn’t show up on the traffic engineers’ drafting tables downtown. The only informed experts are the folks who actually live in the area and transit the intersection. Keep up the demands.

  • let them swim November 27, 2011 (8:02 am)

    I don’t get it!
    There’s a traffic light almost in the same spot on the east side of Admiral way.
    Sure, there’s a scenic overlook of the city there.
    or is that it?
    Does the city care more about tourist safety than Seattlites?
    Someone in the traffic division better get a clue.

  • RG November 27, 2011 (9:15 am)

    I was just thinking about Mr. Nakata and the accident the other day. I was close by after police secured the scene that day. As someone who drives and walks that stretch of Admiral often I feel that there needs to be a traffic light. The flags are very helpful but I don’t think they are enough to stop traffic in both directions safely. Even with the flags drivers going up the hill can’t see people trying to cross the street when there are delivery trucks parked outside of Alki Mail blocking the view of the pedestrians.

  • DF November 27, 2011 (10:18 am)

    I know this intersection well and hope something is done about it to keep pedestrians safe. ALSO MAY I SUGGEST THAT YOU PLEASE STOP TEXTING WHILE YOU DRIVE! Have a great day.

  • Rockyraccoon November 27, 2011 (1:01 pm)

    How about this–get rid of the crosswalk and find a safer place to cross the street. All these painted lines and flags and flashing lights just encourage people to walk into traffic without using their brains. The city can’t afford to maintain existing infrastructure, much less spend tens of thousands of dollars on another stoplight so you don’t have to walk a block out of your way.

  • JN November 27, 2011 (2:17 pm)

    Or maybe motorists could slow down and let pedestrians use their right to cross the dang street without fearing for their lives every time? You can’t restrict people from simply walking. Whenever you see a pedestrian crossing, you yield. It doesn’t help to be in the “right” when you killed someone.

  • DF November 27, 2011 (4:28 pm)

    Good point Rocky also might suggest what I heard awhile back on KUOW from a state trooper interviewed sharing how people need to starting driving their vehicle rather than simply aiming it. Something very important to consider.

  • cjl November 27, 2011 (5:59 pm)

    I cross this street four times a day walking my dog, I have almost been hit so many times I can’t even begin to count. Even with the flag in hand, I still have near misses. I usually don’t cross until someone stops, but I have seen cars behind the one stopped, swerve around the car and almost hit me. It’s just crazy, I don’t understand why a light hasn’t been installed.

  • SAJ November 28, 2011 (12:52 am)

    Is there an update to the original article that reported this tragedy? I’m curious as to whether the Rabbi’s choice to surrender his driver’s license still stands today? Is he driving today? I live in this neighborhood and have/know kids who walk this road. I would like to know that this Rabbi has chosen to permanently give up his privilege to drive so when my kids are walking this route he’s one less distracted driver I would have to worry about.

    • WSB November 28, 2011 (3:07 am)

      SAJ: Rabbi Schwartz is currently leading a religious community in Israel, where he and his family moved more than a year ago – TR

  • Anomie 2 November 28, 2011 (9:37 am)

    That accident was a tragedy, but speed is not the only ingredient in safety. Sometimes the engineering or lack of is at issue. My suggestion is they need to build an overpass and eliminate that crosswalk–it’s in a bad spot. They ought to do the same on a couple of other spots on Admiral. That corner can have a host of visual issues and glare at certain times of the day when the sun shines brightly. The downhill slope of the road right before the crosswalk makes it perilous for drivers who have to brake suddenly because of over cautious drivers in front of them who stop well ahead of the crosswalk regardless if someone has indicated they wish to cross. The streets that feed into Admiral there come at odd angles. Lighting is often bad as well in West Seattle. We want to be green but the streetlights are too far apart, emit poor lighting, and are sometimes obscured by our beloved trees. Genesee is just one example of a poorly lit street at dusk, and it’s hard to see pedestrians when they are dressed in dark colors. Of course, drivers need to accept responsibility, be accountable, and drive safely, but sometimes the way they design the roads around here is half the problem. Again, that accident was tragic, and whether it was caused by poor driving, inattention, hurry, or morning blinding sunlight glare, we need to drive with utmost caution and consideration to fellow pedestrians, bikers, and drivers.

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