Emotional Pain of Pedestrian Vehicle Accidents Lingers

March 12, 2012

The Rev. James Cowell of Walker ran over and killed a man with his truck three weeks ago.

While police said the man dove in front of Cowell’s truck at the last second, making the accident unavoidable, Cowell, 46, says he will be haunted for the rest of his life by the fateful moment – the eye contact, screeching brakes and the sight of the dead man’s body under his truck.

“I can’t describe how it feels other than complete shock and disbelief,” Cowell said a week after the Feb. 9 accident.

The Advocate reports it’s a scenario that plays out almost twice weekly in Louisiana: a sober driver usually traveling down a dark highway doesn’t see a pedestrian until the last second before impact, if at all.

Of the 272 drivers who struck and killed a pedestrian in Louisiana since Jan. 1, 2009, 233 were not issued a citation, according to data compiled by Helmut Schneider, director of the LSU Highway Safety Research Group.

Last year, at least 74 drivers were not at fault in the deaths of the pedestrians they struck with their vehicles, according to Schneider’s data.

That number could be higher, Schneider said. Many drivers who were issued citations could have been found in violation of something menial, such as an expired inspection sticker, and not at fault in the death of the pedestrian they hit.

“Most pedestrian fatalities are the pedestrian’s fault for stepping in front of the car,” Schneider said.

Alcohol impairment and suicide are generally considered the likeliest reasons a pedestrian might end up in the path of a moving car, said State Police spokesman Russell Graham.

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