Spike in pedestrian accidents baffle Washoe school officials

January 29, 2020 GMT

RENO, Nev. (AP) — Law enforcement and school officials say they are baffled by a dramatic surge in the number of students who have been struck by vehicles in the Reno-Sparks area this school year.

More than two dozen pedestrian accidents involving students have been reported since August. That’s more than three times the previous high of seven reported in any single school year, according to the Reno Gazette Journal.

The latest two accidents reported Tuesday involving south Reno elementary school students brings the total to five in January alone.

One accident in October was fatal. At least three times, drivers fled the scene after hitting a student.

“Everyone working on this can’t find any rhyme or reason to it,” Washoe County Schools police officer MJ Cloud said. “It’s not based on construction areas or population growth.”

In some cases, it was a student’s fault, and in other cases drivers were faulted, Cloud said.

In the most recent accidents on Tuesday, one student suffered minor injuries when he was hit while trying to beat a light on the way to school and the other broke his kneecap when he was hit after coming home from school and riding his bike to karate practice near the school, the Gazette Journal reported Wednesday.

The fatality occurred Oct. 20 when Aliah Lucena, 14, was hit by a car near Wooster High School. The driver fled the scene.

In addition to at least 25 students who have been hit by cars on their way to and from school, Cloud estimates dozens of other accidents have gone unreported.

“They don’t always call the police, or their injuries aren’t severe,” Cloud said. She said some students don’t report if for fear of getting in trouble.

School Board President Katy Simon Holland and Interim Superintendent Dr. Kristen McNeill said school police officers are joining with law enforcement agencies to step up patrols near schools, “but they cannot do it alone.”

“We join with the entire WCSD family in calling upon the community to use caution at all times while driving,” they said in a recent statement. “We implore our students to be aware of their surroundings, avoid distractions, and always use crosswalks while traveling to school.”