A Newburyport, Massachusetts man is facing three motor vehicle citations as a result of a pedestrian-vehicle accident on campus that injured a University of Massachusetts student on Oct. 20, according to UMass Police Department.
Charles Willingham, 18, is charged with speeding, negligent operation of a motor vehicle and failure to stop for a pedestrian in a crosswalk.
At approximately 5:48 p.m. on Friday, October 20, Willingham was traveling westbound on Eastman Lane near Sylvan Residential Area when he struck Silas M. Watkins, 20, of Wellfleet, Massachusetts. Watkins was crossing Eastman in a designated crosswalk at the time of the incident, as relayed by Deputy Director of the UMass Office of News and Media Relations Mary Dettloff.
Watkins is now in stable condition at Baystate Medical Center in Springfield.
“Watkins was transported from the scene with severe injuries, including head trauma, by Amherst Fire Department. Willingham and a passenger in his vehicle were uninjured,” Ed Blaguszewski, director of the University’s Office of News and Media Relations, said in an email on Saturday.
Initially, UMPD responded to the accident. Massachusetts State Police were then called to the scene due to the severity of injuries sustained by Watkins.
According to Blaguszewski, UMPD said solar glare from the setting sun was a factor. This was confirmed by Dettloff on Tuesday.
“UMass Police report that solar glare may have been a factor in the accident and warn both drivers and pedestrians on campus that it will continue to be a safety concern between 4 and 6 p.m. in coming days,” Dettloff said. “Drivers and pedestrians should use extra care while driving and crossing streets.”
Blaguszewski said police had sent out a prior notice warning drivers of solar glare. The flyer noted that, especially in the late afternoon, solar glare is a driving hazard.
Glenn Houlihan can be reached at [email protected]