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Pedestrian Death Spurs Investigations

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WAMC photo by Dave Lucas
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The investigation into the traffic mishap that resulted in the death of an Albany pre-K student Thursday morning is unfurling slowly.

Since the young boy was struck and killed by a garbage truck while crossing a street last week, it appears pedestrians are a bit more attentive to approaching traffic when crossing busy Central Avenue, especially at the Quail Street intersection where the 4-year-old, who was crossing with his mother around 8:30 a.m. Thursday, was hit.

Tenth ward Common Council Member Leah Golby says the panel meets on Thursday but there is nothing on the agenda related to the tragedy.     "One thing that I have found as a pedestrian is that crossing at intersections is terribly dangerous because of the dangers of drivers turning and not looking for or not noticing that there's a pedestrian in the crosswalk. And of course, what happened last week was a tremendous tragedy, and example of how that can go really wrong and take a life. But this is something that happens everyday. And drivers, especially when they're turning, and my understanding, I've been doing a little bit of reading over the past few days, specifically on  left turns, and left turns for whatever reason, there are visibility issues, the driver tends to be focusing more on avoiding oncoming traffic for their left turn when they're in cities where pedestrians are expected, drivers often forget to make sure there are no pedestrians in the intersection before making that left turn. Just yesterday, that happened to me, crossing Central Avenue at Lexington to catch a bus. I had the light, I was crossing, there was a car waiting to make a lft turn, the car decided to make a left turn while I was in the intersection. Luckily, the driver noticed me and stopped."

Golby has been a crusader for pedestrian safety in the capital city, where efforts to carve out bike lines have been slow and scores of pedestrians have been hit in recent years.

The driver of the truck that hit the child was identified by the Times Union as Jim Kelly, who works for ICS Waste and Recycling.

In a written statement, the company said the child jumped over a snow bank and into the road without warning. Police say that’s not what the video of the incident showed. They say surveillance video showed the collision occurred in the crosswalk with the child holding his mother's hand. The pair had the green light, as did the truck, which was turning left.

ICS's statement didn't sit well with Albany County D.A. David Soares, who told CBS6:  "..that someone would generate a statement with a legal conclusion is just outrageous, when law enforcement is at the scene conducting perhaps the most intense investigation that's happened in this community in quite some time... this idea, that a child jumped out of a snowbank, is preposterous. And anyone who is publicizing such a notion, they should be looking to provide any evidence to our office that'd be contrary to the evidence that we've already secured."

In a written statement Tuesday, Soares’ office said the investigation was still in its infancy and didn’t have an update.

Third ward council member Ron Bailey says he's waiting for police investigation results before commenting. Albany Police spokesman Steve Smith said Tuesday morning there were no updates at this time.

Quail and Central has been designated as one of Albany's most dangerous intersections and was selected for installation of a red light camera under the city’s pilot program.

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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