by Phyllis Porter
“I have never been so scared and alone”. True words of another South End citizen fallen victim to the streets of Rainier Avenue.
Rainier Avenue is known to be one of the most dangerous streets in Seattle and on January 23rd of this year, it more than lived up to that reputation (people are getting seriously injured or killed on this arterial).
54 year old Myurie Ausler, was walking in a crosswalk near Rainier Ave S and Massachusetts when a driver in a white Ford Ranger pickup hit her- callously leaving her in the streets of South Seattle during heavy rush hour traffic.
After so many of these incidents we ask the victim’s family, “What happened?”
Why? Because more often than not, the victim suffers a fate similar to Myurie due to the cowardly actions of a driver. Many times ending up physically incapacitated due to injuries- they leave their families with sons, daughters, or parents who are casualties of concussions, and comas. Sometimes, they are not left with anything at all, except a lifeless body.
Family members with tears, and prayers stand, watch and wait to understand or at least imagine a glimpse of the twilight zone the victim experienced- that moment when life was so abruptly, and violently transformed. They know even if the victim survived he or she may have no recollection of what transpired.
These are our brothers, sisters, uncles, grandparents, family members, neighbors, co-workers, whose lives end so tragically by death or continue with sustaining physical disabilities without recourse. Thankfully, Myurie is alive to tell her story.
“The car hit me, I went up and came down on car, hit the ground. I have never been so scared and alone in my life,” said Myurie. “I shouted for help, the driver hesitated and then drove off.”
Sher Kung, Trevon Crease-Holden, and Leo Almanzor …. Not so lucky. These are a few of the fallen victims unable to speak for themselves or otherwise convey their fear, anger or acceptance of physical abuse imposed not from a slap of a hand, or teeth embedding the dermis of the wrist, but by their flesh unwillingly being snatched from its stance from an onrush of metal forcibly depositing them on concrete.
Statistics show that between January 2011 and September 2014, Rainier Avenue experienced 1,263 crashes, 30 injuries and two fatalities, making it the most dangerous street in Seattle. Stats include a hit-and-run of a 7 year old girl struck by the driver of a red Tahoe pickup who left her in the middle of the street.
And the list goes on. Zeytuna Edo, was walking in a crosswalk at MLK Jr Way S and Genesee holding hands with her sister, when another craven driver, struck her and continued on leaving her in the streets with no remorse. Three months later, 68 year old Leo Almanzor was struck and killed by a driver involved in a car chase with police. The man ran Leo over at 5th and Pike in downtown Seattle.
Let’s not forget about 15 year old Trevon Crease-Holden who was struck by a car in a hit and run as he crossed MLK Way Jr and S.Walden Street. None of these violent drivers have been found or apprehended, leaving families of the victims with questions, pain, and abhorrence at these maniacs granted a license to drive.
Our children are being run down from drivers who do not stop, and by those who careen into businesses and drive off, causing danger to many others without accountability for their actions.
Things must change and change in a hurry. Words will not put an end to vehicular violence in our streets. We all must act now!
With the City of Seattle initiating Vision Zero (the city’s plan to prevent fatalities and serious injuries due to traffic collisions) we have hope. At the core of Vision Zero is “the belief that death and injury on city streets is preventable.”
Vision Zero comes to us from New York City, where it’s been implemented with great success. At locations where the New York City Department of Transportation has made major engineering changes since 2005, fatalities have decreased by 34%, twice the rate of improvement at other locations.
Mayor Murray, Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) and the Seattle Police Department (SPD) approach emphasizes smarter street designs- forgiving streets that account for human error. With implementation of Vision Zero and the belief that death and injury on city streets are preventable paired along with targeted education, innovative engineering and enforcement, the effort will save lives in our city as well.
But this is not enough. We can and must do better. Some of us only see these horrific type images on televisions, videos and social media and fail to recognize this is no television show, YouTube or Facebook. This is reality in our community, our neighborhood where innocent Myurie’s, Leo’s , Zeytuna’s and other victims are left in the streets clinging onto or begging for life.
We are all victims of cowardly traffic violence whether we are physically, emotionally, mentally or socially involved, there is a connection; be it family, friend, neighbor, or an execution of hit-and-run, speeding, or cars jumping curbs, this path will continue if we don’t do something to end this nonsense.
We cannot afford to lose another person. Act now!
1. Sign Petition: I support Safety Over Speeding on Rainier Avenue South #YBS15 #VisionZeroRainier http:// seattlegreenways.org/ neighborhoods/rainier-valley/
· Safe Speed of 25 MPH along Rainier Avenue South and 20 MPH engineered within radius of our community centers of Columbia City, Hillman City and Rainier Beach with enforcement.
· Safe and Dignified Crossings of Rainier Ave S where people driving stop for people walking and those people walking are allowed enoug time to cross before traffic light changes.
· A Safe Place for People to Bike on Rainier Avenue S.
2. Attend Rainier Avenue Safety Corridor Public Meeting :
Thursday, February 26, 2015
The Columbia School/ -Cafeteria/Common, 3528 Ferdinand St.
Tuesday, March 3, 2015
The Ethiopian Community Center, 8323 Rainier Ave S
3. Attend your neighborhood Greenways coalition & help advocate for safer streets.
Rainier Valley Greenways (RVG) meet every 3rd Tuesday @ 6:30-8:30pm @ Bike Works, 3715 S. Hudson St.- Columbia City, Seattle http://www.facebook.com/RainierValleyGreenways and http://seattlegreenways.org/
4. Don’t drive under the influence, and do not SPEED! Like Myurie, I am one of the lucky ones. I have told my story of the trauma experienced from a narrowly missed collision and will continue to advocate on Seattle streets, work with coalitions to bring safer streets to Seattle, work in conjunction with the SDOT, rally at City Hall before councilmembers, interview with media, uplift banners for Vision Zero, continue to hold vigils for families of deceased and seriously injured victims, facilitate meetings to bring solutions to victim’s family members, invite Mayor/City Councilmembers and involve SPD at solutions meeting, commentate on traffic collisions, and acknowledge those loss and injured. Lastly, I will take a stand by signing the Vision Zero petition and embrace the fight of ending senseless and violent crimes of the streets.
Please join me!
Photo Credit: Jawara O’Connor