HOVA accident prompts campus safety concerns, traffic awareness

Officials from the Hall on Virginia Avenue and the Community Living and Learning Center are taking a closer look at student traffic safety after a HOVA resident was hit by a car on Rock Creek Parkway last week.

Freshman Eric Liberman was traveling along the shoulder of the parkway at about 10 p.m. Sept. 7 when he was clipped by a car’s side mirror, according to University Police. The driver did not stop, Liberman said.

Liberman and his roommate were returning from Georgetown when the accident occurred. He said there was no warning of the approaching car.

“The next thing I knew, I was on the ground,” he said. “I was really dazed and confused.”

Liberman was taken to HOVA, where a paramedic evaluated him. He suffered minor bruises and signed a waiver refusing medical treatment, according to University Police.

There is no ongoing investigation because the victim did not file a report and lacked sufficient information on the vehicle, UPD Director Dolores Stafford said.

The Tuesday night accident raised safety concerns for students living near traffic-congested streets, said Vania Smith, community director for HOVA.

“Until that incident, students didn’t realize how important safety is,” Smith said. “It’s twofold. Drivers need to be aware, as do students.”

Virginia Avenue, the four-lane street in front of HOVA, becomes especially busy during rush hour. Rock Creek Parkway sits several hundred feet from HOVA and also swells with traffic at peak hours.

“I think freshmen in general need to get used to the fact that they’re in a major metropolitan area,” Stafford said. “They don’t realize that a lot of times people are in a hurry around here.”

Stafford said pedestrian incidents are not limited to HOVA. Students have been clipped in front of the Marvin Center and other residence halls on campus. She estimated that three to five students a year are involved in such accidents.

In September 1993, GW sophomore Adam Jarrett was struck by a car on Rock Creek Parkway while returning from Georgetown. He subsequently died of injuries at GW Hospital.

Although last week’s incident was not fatal, increased attention to student safety is necessary, said Mark Levine, assistant dean of the Community Living and Learning Center.

“Some of the things we’re doing include talking about safety concerns and using crosswalks,” Levine said. “The community facilitators will talk to students about this.”

Community facilitators in HOVA will review crosswalk procedures with HOVA residents at room safety inspection meetings in September, Smith said. To access the shops at the Watergate complex, many students cross in the middle of Virginia Avenue rather than walking to the end of the street to use the crosswalk.

Smith said the University is negotiating with the Metropolitan Police Department to add another crosswalk in front of HOVA.

Some students say they do not blame the University for traffic incidents and assume the safety responsibility themselves.

“You’ve got to have common sense,” said Aarti Sharma, a freshman resident of Mitchell Hall.

“If you’re old enough to come here, you’re old enough to cross the street,” sophomore Juan Henao said.

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