Traffic fatalities on the rise

Josefina T. Reid. COURTESY PHOTO
Josefina T. Reid. COURTESY PHOTO
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In the past three months, two pedestrians were killed in the S-section.

It was 4:20 p.m. Nov. 30.

Josefina T. Reid, 54, was jogging on Sesame Boulevard, about .2 miles south of Seven Wonders Trail, when she was struck and killed by a car driven by Antonio Castanheira, 35, of Palm Coast.

According to the report from the Florida Highway Patrol, Reid was jogging in the far right side of the roadway near the painted white line, with traffic.

Castanheira said he was distracted by two juvenile passengers in the rear of the car, and was looking at them, when he struck Reid with the front of his car. The impact knocked Reid to the grass shoulder.

Reid was transported to Halifax, but the injuries were fatal. It was the second fatality in a three-month span in the Seminole Woods area of Palm Coast.

Kirt Smith, 15, was killed Aug. 26.

His death sparked an outcry for a sidewalk along Seminole Woods Parkway. A petition was created on Facebook by Dede Siebenaler Aug. 31, for the addition of streetlights and sidewalks to underdeveloped areas of Palm Coast.

Since 2006, Palm Coast has spent about $10 million, not including paths along northern Belle Terre Parkway or southern Old Kings Road, on paths and trails. That’s about one-third the total cost of the projects, according to City Manager Jim Landon. There are about 100 miles of paths and trails around town, he said.

There are 30 other path projects scheduled in Palm Coast’s Master Plan.

Between the 2011-2012 and 2013-2014 fiscal years, four of the seven planned projects are to be built on the south side of the city, along Belle Terre and Seminole Woods parkways.

While many residents continue to urge city officials to develop sidewalks and street lights, it’s also important to know runner safety, said Carrie Meng, senior race director for the Ragnar Relay Series, which puts on 15 open-road races each year.

Meng has been a runner since middle school, and has run several marathons and ultra-marathons.

The most important safety tip runners should know is they need to run against traffic, Meng said.

“That way, if a car is distracted, you’re able to see that they are coming right at you, and you can move out of the way,” Meng said.

Florida traffic law states that runners must run against traffic.

Meng and her fiancé, Cary Strzepek, lived on the same street as Reid.

“We would talk to her if we saw her,” Strzepek said. “She walked, biked and ran everywhere she went. We were just saying how inspiring it is to see a lady out there everywhere.”

Strzepek, who will run the Jacksonville Bank Marathon Dec. 18, said it’s imperative to wear a reflective vest, a head lamp and a blinking light when it’s dusk or dark.

Most runners also listen to music, so Meng said to take one ear bud out and keep the volume low.

“Nobody who goes out and gets hit and killed thinks it’s going to be them,” Meng said.

— Mike Cavaliere contributed to this report.

It was a tragic month. Including Josefina T. Reid, 54, who died Nov. 30, seven people died in Flagler County traffic crashes in November, making 23 for the year to date, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

In the first 11 months of 2010, there were 17 traffic fatalities. In other words, fatalities are up 35% for the year, through November.

The Sheriff’s Office also released data from its Click it or Ticket campaign. From Nov. 14 to Nov. 24, the agency issued 235 citations and 175 warnings, for a total of 413.

—Brian McMillan


John Vanderhoef, a Palm Coast resident who lives in Seminole Woods, spoke at the Tuesday, Dec. 6 regular meeting of the Palm Coast City Council.

He asked city officials for an update on requests for sidewalks and lighting in the southern portion of the city — primarily the Seminole Woods area.

Vanderhoef cited the recent fatality of Josefina Reid, who was hit and killed by a distracted driver.

City Manager Jim Landon addressed Vanderhoef’s concerns. Landon said sidewalks in Seminole Woods are next on the city’s master plan, but there is no timetable for when construction would begin.

“The issue right now is funding,” Landon said Tuesday night. “The grant dollars we were getting through the state have dried up, and although Seminole Woods has been declared as being an eligible project, they no longer have grant dollars going toward this program.”

When Landon was finished, Vanderhoef asked to make another comment.

Mayor Jon Netts denied Vanderhoef more time.

Outside the City Council meeting room, an upset Vanderhoef said he was considering putting a banner in the area of Reid’s death. Vanderhoef said the banner would have a sentence similar to this: “The blood is on your hands, Mayor.”

Vanderhoef also suggested the city allow commercial pickup trucks or vehicles to be parked in driveways. That way the city can charge the homeowner to register the vehicle and pay a fee.

That money could go toward sidewalks that are needed.

Vanderhoef said he has spoken to each member of the City Council about the safety issues on the south of State Road 100, but has made no progress.

That area continues to be neglected, Vanderhoef said.

— Andrew O’Brien




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