A Metropolitan Police cruiser struck a female freshman while she was crossing 23rd Street near Hillel Tuesday night at about 10:25 p.m. The Hall on Virginia Avenue resident, who was taken to GW Hospital by ambulance, received a few stitches above her left eye and a cut on her leg but was still awaiting additional X-rays Wednesday night, friends said.
Police said the pedestrian, who was unavailable for comment from the night of the accident to press time, was crossing the street outside of the crosswalk and against the light when the MPD cruiser hit her in the southbound lane of 23rd Street about 10 feet from the curb.
The passenger’s side mirror was hanging from the MPD car and one of the student’s sandals was still under the vehicle when it stopped two feet past the crosswalk.
MPD officials determined that the car had been traveling slower than the speed limit because they did not see “skid marks.”
“We are doing an investigation . all that counts is that she was conscious and breathing when we got here,” MPD Sgt. David Parrish said at the scene.
About 30 students and onlookers watched paramedics place the student on a stretcher as police set up two flares in the road and redirected traffic away from 23rd Street between H and G streets. Seven squad cars, one ambulance and one fire truck littered the road while an MPD photographer took pictures of the scene and police questioned witnesses.
MPD officer George Rusnak arrived at GW Hospital just past midnight to hand the student a $5 citation for “walking as to create a hazard,” noting that MPD determined she was walking against the light.
Freshman Sharon-Priya Banta said she was walking to HOVA from Gelman Library with the victim right before she was hit.
Banta said the “don’t walk” signal was blinking when they started walking and they stopped at the double yellow line in the middle of the intersection. She said a truck then started southbound in the near lane and stopped in the street to allow the two to pass, but only the victim continued walking. Banta said they had not seen the police car coming in the far lane.
“She was thrown up in the air and cascaded off the trunk of the police car,” Banta said.
She added that the victim landed on her backpack after it had flown off her back.
Rusnak said accidents involving police cars and pedestrians are not common, but commented, “we’re all human.”
The student’s roommates, freshmen Heather Martin and Samantha Smith, said they were joking with the student an hour after the incident.
“She was worried she (was) going to miss class . and whether her chemistry book (was) still intact,” Smith said.
Martin said they spoke to the student’s father, a doctor, Tuesday night and explained she had no broken bones at the time.
Martin and Smith both said the incident will make them look one more time before crossing the street.
“I usually do (look), but I guess I’ll be a little bit more careful next time,” Martin said.
Students continued to cross against the light as police were still investigating the scene.
Parrish scolded multiple students, yelling, “that’s what just happened.”
“These kids need to stop crossing when the light says ‘don’t walk’ . they are doing it right in my presence,” he said.
The incident was the second time in a year that a student was hit on the corner of 23rd and H streets.
Then-senior Louise Blanc was hit by a student driver the afternoon of Oct. 25, 2001, according to a Oct. 29, 2001 Hatchet report.
Blanc was taken to GW Hospital for minor injuries and issued a $50 citation, police said in the article.
Pedestrian safety is not a new issue on GW’s campus and some incidents have ended in tragedy.
GW Law School student Seth Wadley was struck by a drunk driver Dec. 19, 1998, at the 1100 block of G Street N.W., according to a Jan. 18, 1999 Hatchet report. Wadley was 24 years old and died a day after the driver struck him after running a red light.
Nineteen-year-old Adam Jarrett, a GW sophomore, was killed in a traffic accident near the Rock Creek Parkway and K Street Sept. 16, 1993, according to a Sept. 20, 1993 Hatchet article.