Pedestrians and police worry Avondale intersection could turn deadly
By Stacy Jacobsonsjacobson@abcnews4.com
CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- As day turns to night in Avondale and the evening glow of the bars sets in, pedestrian safety seems to get run off the road.
ABC News 4 spent an hour at the intersection of Magnolia Road and Savannah Highway on a Friday night. We saw people running under a green light, despite the orange pedestrian sign telling them to stop.
We even caught one person running across Savannah Highway by Gerald's and then walking past an officer's car.
"I can't speak on behalf of what he's doing," Sgt. George Bradley said of the officer in the car where the pedestrian walked by.
"With a lot of people, it is very tightly-knit and compressed. A lot of parking issues and [issues with] crossing the street," said Bradley, the administrative sergeant for the Charleston Police team that patrols West Ashley.
Officers have increased their presence in Avondale in the last eight months, Bradley said. That presence includes patrolling as well as parking on the side of Savannah Highway with blue "halo" lights illuminated. In the last five years, five pedestrians have run in to cars and had serious injuries, police said.
"The biggest obstacle we have there, they're all late-night collisions involving pedestrians probably coming out from the establishments that are in that area," Sgt. Matt Wojslawowicz said.
But Avondale resident Brandon Norman knows all too well, the pain the intersection can bring.
"This weekend will make a year. I was leaving The Roost and got hit right in front of Triangle. I had a punctured lung, broke hip, cracked vertebrae in my back, fractured lower orbital, two skull fractures and bleeding on the brain."
Police said he was at fault since he ran in front of a car that had a green light. He spent three weeks in a coma and four months in the hospital, and didn't remember anything from the night or the two weeks after.
Since the incident, he's pushed for change.
"The intersection hasn't been updated as far as the amount of businesses in there and the pedestrian traffic that's there," he said.
Charleston Police agreed.
"Five collisions in five years is five too many. So we are aware of the intersection and we are looking at a multi-faceted approach to make that intersection safer," Wojslawowicz said.
Police wanted to educate the public, including drivers and pedestrians, they said. But Norman had not seen enough action. He feared if something wasn't done, someone would die.
Charleston city officials said they had a plan to redesign the Avondale intersection. However, the Department of Transportation took the lead on the project. The DOT did not respond to numerous requests by ABC News 4 to see those plans.
During the last six years, Charleston Police said they issued 128 pedestrian citations city wide.