A major pedestrian highway crossing in Fruitvale that has been the scene of numerous near-misses in the past has now once again come to the attention of the Fruitvale Council after a hit-and-run Halloween night had near tragic consequences.
At its regular meeting Monday night, council unanimously passed a motion to, once again, petition the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure for additional lighting and enhanced safety in the form of pedestrian activated flashing lights at the crossing of Highway 3B at Nelson Avenue, next to the Villagers Pub and Hotel.
Village of Fruitvale Mayor, Patricia Cecchini, says she was approached by a constituent who reported her nephew was struck by a passing vehicle Halloween night as he was crossing the highway at the crosswalk and the incident has renewed calls for crossing lights across Highway 3B.
Fruitvale resident, Shalaume Leslie, said her 15 year-old nephew, Michael Hamilton, was on his way home after the village’s Halloween bonfire at approximately 8 p.m. Halloween night when the incident occurred.
“He waited a for one vehicle on the highway to pass that he felt didn’t see him and tried to cross behind it when he was struck by a vehicle that came down Nelson Avenue,” said Leslie. “He wasn’t even sure what hit him.”
Leslie said that, fortunately, her nephew wasn’t seriously injured in the hit-and-run but suffered scrapes, bruising, and a mild concussion. Leslie says his parents took him to Emergency at Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital but didn’t call the RCMP until the following day.
“They said the RCMP constable told them they could file a report but they didn’t really have anything to go on,” said Leslie.
After the Trail Times contacted the local detachment, a press release was issued by the RCMP asking for the public’s assistance.
The vehicle is described as a darker, SUV type, said the release. Police are requesting anyone who may have witnessed the incident, or has any knowledge of it, to please contact the Trail and Greater District RCMP or Crime Stoppers.
“We’ve had many reports of near-misses at this particular crosswalk and as a village we don’t want to have to wait until there’s a tragedy to see something done,” said Cecchini. “This is a family friendly community and we want our citizens to be able to feel safe crossing the street.”
Lila Cresswell, chief administrative officer for the Village of Fruitvale, related a lengthy history of the village requesting action on the hazardous crossing.
“There was a petition in the 90’s to have something done to make this safer and then again the last village council brought up the issue,” said Cresswell. “I brought it up with the ministry last year before they did the paving. We had positive response to other issues but they told us this was already signed appropriately.”
Mayor Cecchini expressed her concern given the significant heavy truck traffic on the highway and because it is a major pedestrian crossing point from one side of town to the other.
“This is a main crossing for kids going to and from the elementary school from the subdivisions on Fruitvale’s West side and for citizens crossing to get to the Beaver Valley Public Library,” said Cecchini. “We appreciate the efforts the ministry has made in the past but it’s not quite enough.”