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Redefining Pedestrian Unfriendly – GA Mom Convicted of Homicide for Crossing Street

1:21 PM PDT on July 14, 2011

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We don’t normally report on vehicle crashes here on the Capitol Hill blog, but this was so outrageous we couldn’t help ourselves.

A 30-year-old woman in Marietta, Georgia was convicted of vehicular homicide this week – and she wasn’t even driving a car. The woman was crossing the street with her three children when a driver, who had been drinking, hit and killed her four-year-old. The driver, Jerry Guy, was initially charged with “hit and run, first degree homicide by vehicle and cruelty to children,” Elise Hitchcock of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. “Charges were later dropped to just the hit and run charge.”

The man has previously been convicted of two hit-and-runs – on the same day, in 1997, one of them on the same road where he killed Raquel Nelson’s son.

Guy will serve six months for killing the boy, but Nelson will serve up to 36 months – just for crossing the street with her child. Yes, it's true: they were not in a crosswalk. Are there any crosswalks on that street at all?

Hitchcock at the AJC says:

The conviction does not sit well with Sally Flocks, president and CEO of PEDS, a pedestrian advocacy organization.

“Invest the money in safe crossings," Flocks said. "For the costs of the trial yesterday, they could have made a safe crossing. But they don’t want to do that.”

The Atlanta-Sandy-Springs-Marietta, Georgia metro area ranks 11th in the country for most dangerous streets for pedestrians, according to Transportation for America’s recent report on pedestrian safety and street design. The region had nearly 800 pedestrian deaths between 2000 and 2009.

Despite the fact that Atlanta-area municipalities continue to build roads, like the one where Nelson’s son was killed, with inadequate pedestrian crossings and sidewalks, and despite the fact that the federal government continues to vastly underfund pedestrian safety infrastructure on federally-funded roads and highways, the courts have pointed the finger at Nelson, blaming her for the death of her son on a road that was designed with no regard for pedestrian safety.

H/t to Anne Lutz Fernandez for bringing this story to our attention.

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