Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

New information released on pedestrian accidents

Alex Mojcher/Collegian File Photo
Alex Mojcher/Collegian File Photo

Further details have been released about the pedestrian accidents that occurred last week as police warn students about safety while driving and walking.

In a series of two accidents last week, a total of four pedestrians were struck by vehicles while crossing the street last Monday and Tuesday evenings, respectively. Both accidents occurred on Commonwealth Avenue between Mullins Center and the Recreation Center. All pedestrians were University of Massachusetts students and both incidents occurred in the same crosswalk.

Monday’s incident involved three female students: Patricia Martin, a sociology major, Adriana Sobel, a nutrition major, and Lauren Sokolovsky, a communications major. Sobel and Sokolovsky were both treated on the scene of the accident. Martin was taken to Cooley Dickinson Hospital with a head injury but was released after treatment.

The driver in Monday’s accident was Henrique Deassuncao of Osterville. Deassuncao, who is not a UMass student, was charged with a civil motor vehicle infraction of failing to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk. Police also noted that his windshield was not clean and this diminished his ability to see the road.

Tuesday’s accident occurred shortly after 6 p.m. on the same road. The vehicle struck UMass student Benjamin Robbins, a sustainable horticulture major, with the passenger side of the car. Robbins was transported to Bay State Medical Center and released after treatment of his injuries.

Gregory Lazan of Worcester was the driver in Tuesday’s accident and was also charged with a civil motor vehicle infraction.

Following the two incidents, UMass Police Chief and Director of Public Safety John Horvath sent an email to the University community emphasizing safety both while walking and driving through campus.

“Your ability to react quickly and adapt to a given situation will increase your ability to stay safe,” Horvath said.

Horvath emphasized the use of crosswalks for pedestrians, advising them to stop at the curb and look both ways before crossing the street and always staying alert while proceeding across. The chief also advised against running or biking through crosswalks since drivers “will not expect someone to enter into the crosswalk at a faster pace than (sic) what they’re used to.”

“Our campus welcomes visitors every day, many of whom may not be accustomed to driving in such a heavily populated pedestrian community,” Horvath said. “Visitors may be unaware of the crosswalk areas and react slower to crossing pedestrians. Crosswalk safety is a shared responsibility.”

Horvath said that pedestrians should wear reflective clothing when walking at night to improve visibility and should never assume that because they see a vehicle that the driver sees them.

The chief’s main advice to drivers was to stay attentive to the road, looking for pedestrians everywhere and using extra caution when driving in difficult conditions. Horvath also warned drivers not to pass other stopped vehicles: “There is a reason other vehicles have stopped that may not be evident to you, and there is likely someone crossing.”

Horvath ended his email with a general warning to both drivers and pedestrians: be alert despite modern conveniences.

“Don’t be distracted by electronic devices that take your eyes and ears off the road,” he said. “Use of cell phones, ear buds and other electronic devices can place you at an increased risk for an accident, regardless of whether you are walking, biking or driving. Please stay alert to stay safe on campus.”

Patrick Hoff can be reached at [email protected].

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    Dr. Ed CuttingFeb 11, 2014 at 1:34 am

    Might I add that the driver may *not* be ABLE to stop — looking at that picture, I would be very surprised if there wasn’t ice under that snow What happens is that the snow melts from the weight of the car — just like the ice does under the blade of a figure skate – and then freezes. Only now it’s a very thin layer of ice — “black ice”, so called because the pavement looks like it is only wet. But it very much isn’t — unless you have studded snow tires (or chains on), you simply are not going to be able to stop.
    Worse, as black ice is formed by the weight of cars driving over snow, the sidewalk won’t be slippery — but the road might be. I’ve seen what was just a wet road with snow falling on it become a treacherous skating rink in less than five minutes — it can happen that quickly and often before drivers realize that it has happened. And even a wet road can be quite slippery — at night and in the rain, I honestly don’t expect a car to be able to stop on the crosswalks on Mass Ave — they are usually going to fast and the road was (and I presume still is) rather slippery when wet.
    Now one other thing that needs to be said here — crosswalks are good, red/yellow/green traffic lights are a whole lot better! The traffic light by Parking Services was installed not as part of the new Governor’s Drive but after a tragic pedestrian fatality in which a student was hit while she was in the crosswalk.
    The other traffic light on that road predates the Mullins Center — it was never intended to facilitate pedestrian crossing because there were no pedestrians there. Now there is both a Rec Center and an Honors College — and lots of pedestrians there — and they are getting hit. Maybe it’s time to think about a new traffic light system before — heaven forbid – another student winds up dead.