Troopers Trying to Reduce Pedestrian DeathsPosted: Updated:
WAPATO, Wash - A stretch of Highway 97 is deadly for pedestrians, four people have been hit and killed in the last two months. The latest happened this past weekend. One of the factors in these pedestrian/vehicle accidents is alcohol.
Washington State Patrol Troopers are now increasing their patrols in the Wapato and Toppenish areas, literally taking pedestrians off of busy roads.
It's not a taxi service. Troopers are just doing their job.
Trooper Rutherford has patrolled Yakima County for six years. He says he has never seen so many pedestrian deaths in one location, in a matter of months.
He says the Highway 97 corridor attracts a lot of pedestrians. The extra patrols will contact the pedestrians along the side of the road. The trooper will then offer to drive the person where they need to go if the location is within reason.
"I would rather take the opportunity to contact someone and ensure they will be somewhere safe rather than having to come back to a fatality later and have to notify a family they lost a loved one," explains Trooper Rutherford.
Trooper Rutherford says the majority of the pedestrian deaths usually have to do with alcohol. The person is drunk and is walking in the middle of poorly lit road.
For every accident there is two victims, the person who is hit and the driver who hit them.
"The driver who struck this person is now a victim for life as well because they've just been through a traumatic experience and they are always going to question themselves if they were at fault or could have done something different," says Trooper Rutherford.
Troopers say call 911, the State Patrol or the Sheriff's office if you see any pedestrian on the side of the road that could be in danger.