13th pedestrian killed this year; police consider ticketing jaywalkers

Richmond County Deputy Coroner Johnny McDonald examines the body of Rapha Felts, of North Carolina, who was struck and killed as he attempted to cross Washington Road near Interstate 20 on Tuesday night.

Another pedestrian – the 13th this year – died Tuesday night after being hit by a car, this time on Washington Road near Boy Scout Road, authorities said.

Rapha Felts, 47, of North Carolina, was at Crazy Turks Pizza at 2910 Wash­ington Road. His friends told authorities they were paying the bill when Felts left, Richmond County sheriff’s Sgt. Danny Whitehead said.

The group was staying at the West Bank Hotel next door, and his friends said they did not know why Felts left and tried to cross the busy six-lane road.

Before he was very far off the sidewalk, Felts was struck by a 1989 Chevrolet pickup driven by Michael Fisk, 43, of Martinez. Fisk had tried to avoid Felts, Whitehead said, leaving skid marks in the eastbound lane that were documented by the sheriff’s office’s Serious Traffic Accident Res­ponse team. Fisk was not injured and will not be charged, police said.

The accident, which happened about 8:30 p.m., closed all eastbound lanes of Washington Road for a few hours.

This year’s death toll among pedestrians is the highest in a decade in Richmond County. Even before Tues­day’s accident, the sheriff’s office had begun considering ticketing jaywalkers in an effort to reduce these deaths.

This year’s total is up from eight in 2011 and one in 2009.

On Monday, Kyron J. Doleman, 5, died trying to cross Peach Orchard Road. His 13-year-old sister, Tyrah Dole­man, was also hit and was in good condition Tuesday at Medical College of Geor­gia Hospital, a spokeswoman said.

A lack of pedestrian responsibility is a big part of the number of fatalities, said Lt. Randy Prickett, the supervisor of the traffic division for the sheriff’s office.

“People don’t want to walk to the crosswalk or wait for the green light,” Prickett said. “Some are just not paying attention.”

The sheriff’s office is thinking about targeting pedestrians who are not following traffic laws. On multilane streets and roads, where cars can get up to 50 or 60 mph, police would start stopping jaywalkers.

“We don’t want to get that petty,” Prickett said. “But if it saves one life, it’s worth it.”

The traffic division would need every road patrol deputy to be on board, including beat cars, to enforce it, but officials at the top are considering that direction, he said.

At the beginning, Prickett said, authorities would just talk to jaywalkers and try to avoid giving out tickets. With repeat offenders, they hope a few tickets would serve as a warning to others.

Traffic fatalities overall are also up for the third year in a row. They increased from 19 in 2010 to 34 in 2011. With two weeks left this year, the number is already at 41.

Statewide numbers show a different trend. Fatal accidents are down for the third year in a row. Pedestrian fatalities in Georgia are up slightly, but down from 2010.

“We are going to be more proactive in the new year,” Prickett said. “We are going to stop speeders and ticket for other violations.”

He said there would be some changes starting Jan.1 on the road patrol, but the sheriff’s office was not releasing details yet.

 

RICHMOND COUNTY
YEARTRAFFIC FATALITIESPEDESTRIAN DEATHS
2010195
2011348
20124113

Source: Richmond County Sheriff's Office

GEORGIA
YEARTRAFFIC FATALITIESPEDESTRIAN DEATHS
20101,250168
20111,236124
20121,135129

Source: Georgia State Patrol

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