New information released on pedestrian accidents

By Patrick Hoff

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]