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For 4th Time in 7 Weeks, a Student is Struck by Vehicle in Palm Coast; Safety Panel Meets

| November 4, 2015

palm coast students crashes safety

The scene of Tuesday’s crash, the fourth in less than two months involving students. (© FlaglerLive)

A 13-year-old boy going home on his bike from Buddy Taylor Middle School was struck and injured by an SUV at the intersection of Belle Terre Parkway and Pritchard Drive at 1:37 p.m. Tuesday. It was the fourth time in seven weeks that a school child was struck by a vehicle on Palm Coast roads, and it took place about 1,500 feet from where a 7-year-old girl was killed while waiting for a school bus on Oct. 7.

According to the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office, which investigated Tuesday’s incident, the student, Maxim Bystrov, was among a group of children on bikes, riding southbound on the sidewalk on Belle Terre Parkway. At the intersection with Pritchard Drive, Bystrov rode on, as was his right.

He was some 20 feet into the intersection when William Hickman, an 86-year-old resident of nearby 39 Price Lane, failed to respect Bystrov’s right-of-way and crashed into his bike. The passenger in Hickman’s car reportedly waved the student across, officials who discussed the incident at a safety panel meeting today said, but Hickman didn’t realize it.

Flagler County Sheriff’s deputy Otis Gilyard, who investigated, said the crash drew Bystrov under the SUV. Bystrov, who was seen alert at the scene by witnesses, was taken to Florida Hospital Flagler in good spirits, according to Gilyard. School officials said he had serious skin injuries but no broken bones.

Hickman was cited with failure to yield the right-of-way. Gilyard noted that the student was not wearing a helmet or any safety equipment and urged: “Kids absolutely must start wearing their bicycle helmets. It’s not an option. It’s the law for anyone under 16.”

The wreck is the latest in a series of incidents that have heightened concerns about students’ safety on city roads, led to the creation of a committee of school and city officials to explore ways to improve students’ safety, triggered a Facebook page called Safer Streets in Palm Coast that has drawn attention and comments from local officials, among them school board member Andy Dance and Palm Coast City Council member Steven Nobile, and provoked discussions to that end at the Palm Coast City Council and the Flagler County School Board.

Andy Dance has been on the Flagler County School Board since 2008. He faces Maria Barbosa in his re-election bid. (© FlaglerLive)

Andy Dance. (© FlaglerLive)

That committee coincidentally met again today at noon and produced a four-point plan to begin tackling the issue more pragmatically. The plan entails “engineering, education, enforcement and encouragement,” as summed up by Dance. The city will be responsible for the engineering component, the sheriff’s office for enforcement, with the school district taking on education, and all sides pledging to keep up with encouragement by not making these efforts “a short attention-span type of thing,” but rather a year-round effort. To that end, a committee that had been disbanded, and that had included transportation officials along with city and district officials may be revived, with the current committee morphing into it.

“The city is pretty much taking the lead on the engineering component since they have the infrastructure,” Dance said, “and they’re going to be putting together some internal staff to look at some standardized best-practices for bus stops and bus stop improvements. What does that look like, we don’t know yet. We’ve got a lot of suggestions. I’ve gathered a lot of suggestions off the Facebook forum and other suggestions people have sent me.”

A four-point plan emphasizing engineering, education, enforcement and encouragement.

The district’s lead on education will re-emphasize the twice-yearly efforts to focus student attention on school bus safety. “We’re revisiting the material we present to students, so we’re going to be making sure we have current enough information that’s consistent across the district and that we do proper student training on how to behave and dos and donts on proper bus stop safety.”

There’s one other, fresh component in the works: Dance, who has been heavily involved with the Future Problem Solvers and Community Problem Solvers throughout district schools, is meeting with Flagler Palm Coast High School’s FPS team Thursday to go over a project that will tie directly into student safety on Palm Coast Streets. “Hopefully one of the things they can focus on is peer-to-peer education component,” Dance said. “They can focus on researching the behavior and activities that lead to some of those incidents out in the community.” The results might include public service announcements, among other initiatives.

“The opportunity to get the students involved is really going to be helpful,” Jason DeLorenzo, the Palm Coast City Council member who launched the safety committee with Dance last month and was at today’s meeting, said. “Kids talking to other kids is a really good way to communicate about safety. Sometimes kids are kids, they don’t want to hear from adults, but when their peers get involved that should have a really good impact.”

Today’s meeting, held at the new Palm Coast City Hall, included Dance, DeLorenzo, City Manager Jim Landon, Superintendent Jacob Oliva, and District Safety Director Winnie Oden. The committee’s efforts will also be able to rely on the return of Mike Judd, the former district facilities director, who will be coordinating the traffic safety committee’s work. “Mike’s got a wealth of knowledge, background information and all that kind of stuff,” Dance said.

Bystrov was the third cyclist struck by a vehicle, and the second from Buddy Taylor Middle School. None of the three cases point to student error, but rather to students’ right-of-way being violated by drivers. On Sept. 21, an 8th grader was heading to school on his bicycle on Parkview Drive when a school bus collided with him at the crosswalk in front of Belle Terre Park. The student was treated for minor injuries at Florida Hospital. Four days later, a 7th grader riding his bicycle to Indian Trails Middle School was struck by a driver at the corner of Brookside Lane and Belle Terre Parkway, in a hit-and-run. The driver was not located. The student sustained minor injuries.

The worst incident took place less than a month ago on Whippoorwill Drive, where Kymora Christian, 7, was killed when she was struck by a passing vehicle as the child was waiting for a bus. The driver of the vehicle said the child had suddenly darted in front of the car.

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29 Responses for “For 4th Time in 7 Weeks, a Student is Struck by Vehicle in Palm Coast; Safety Panel Meets”

  1. BIG JOHN says:

    It seems to me that there isn’t all that much the School bureaucrats can do…the problem is with the people who drive cars and do not pay attention.

  2. Diane J Cline says:

    I think there needs to one more “E”, enlightenment, and it involves a component that I was surprised to see lacking, parents. I don’t care who has the right of way because as a parent/grandparent I teach that a moving vehicle can hurt or kill regardless of who is legally correct. I live in Flagler Beach and I guess because we tend to be more laid back I see folks young and old walking and riding bicycles in the street all hours of the day with no regard for vehicular traffic and I find that to be one of the most ignorant things a person can do. Why, because I don’t trust drivers! Did they see me, are they under the influence, do they even care? Safety is a personal responsibility not a right. I would suggest walkers and bike riders be taught to stop at intersections, look both ways, and not proceed until the path is absolutely clear. A vehicle is no different than a shark, you have to be smart and stay clear.

  3. confidential says:

    Correct Big John!!
    The problem are not the students Mr. Andy Dance, but instead the drivers! We can give our students all the safety education you want, but that won’t mean a thing as the adult drivers are the ones in need of education about respecting life! The students do not have the weapon but the drivers do at the steering wheel.
    Stiiiffer penalties for anyone injuring a student, safety areas for students during the school year with slower speed limits near and around school busses stops or roads were students walk to school. Enforcement and strict enforcement by our sheriff patrols. These drivers around Palm Coast run our roads like were the France’s Daytona Speedway! I don’t even have children in school but I see around us what takes place. Too many bullies at the steering wheel! I see kids walking or cycling and I slow down to a walk pace…or we are supposed to be speeding for the road kill? Students, pedestrians, joggers, cyclist, bikers and wildlife lives MATTER!

  4. Brad W says:

    I like the focus on the 4 points and identifying which agency is responsible. The part that is missing is the Schools evaluation of the number of bub stops and adding more where necessary. That should be non-negotiable. I can tell you that London and Lee is way over-crowded and has been for some time. This is also the case in other parts of the City. That’s a School thing and the City can add concrete pads to help keep students off of the street BUT if there is no room on the pad because of over-crowding it defeats the purpose.

  5. Amber says:

    I think try should double the speeding ticket, like they do in construction zones… Only throughout the county from 5-8am and 1-5pm people would think about speeding then, and cops to be there to enforce the law! I’m so over seeing all the young children of this town going through traumatic experiences so young! It’s not fair to parents or the child.

  6. scott says:

    Or bicyclists that don’t pay attention, it works both ways

  7. Steve Robinson says:

    Was waiting this afternoon at the intersection of Florida Park Drive and Fernham Lane for a school bus–lights flashing, STOP sign deployed–when a driver in a maroon Volvo sped north on FL Park Dr right past other stopped cars and the bus. Fortunately, the bus driver apparently saw the car coming (lots of drivers honked their horns) and waited to open the doors, which was a good thing as two youngsters got off and crossed FPD, which would have been in the car’s path. Texting? Phoning? Dozing? Who knows, but it was alarming.

  8. Jon Hardison says:

    I’ve been screaming about this for so long… Here’s my post on the subject from Facebook. I’m just done with this. DONE! Do you hear me? What is the school board going to do? Recommend new school uniforms that are no less that 20% rubber pumpers? The problem is… drum roll… THE ROADS!!!!!!!

    From FB:
    Yep. And now the school board is gathering to see what can be done about it. Already the wrong friggin’ answer. The problem is Palm Coast and behaviors her roads promote in already terrible drivers. I watched a kid at a green light not be able to cross the street at Belle Terre and rt 100 today. Know why? Because no one would give this pedestrian the right of way HE ALREADY HAD! Not one driver. Not two. It was easily 20 cars and not ONE recognized they were doing a thing wrong. I’m so sick of this bullshit. Seriously! We have cameras at major intersections all around the city, most now sitting doing nothing because the city can’t legally monetize on fines, but we don’t know enough about our own traffic patterns to see that it’s our drivers and roads that are the problem?


  9. Sue says:

    I have lived in this town for 10 years and the elderly drivers scare the crap out of me ! I have never in my life seen the total disregard of stop signs, stop lights, right of way etc. I basically drive in this town as if anyone is going to do anything. I am not afraid of the young drivers, it’s the old ones that should not be on the roads. BTW I am 54 and would have NO problem being retested every year to remain privileged to have the right to drive…. just my opinion.

  10. i live here too says:

    That’s why we need RECKLESS DRIVER CAMERAS as opposed to red-light cameras.

    Also by bus stops and schools.


    I lay some of the blame — most — at the feet of the car’s passenger for waving the kid across. He/she had no right yielding right of way for a vehicle he/she was not in control of.

    That said, Diane J Chiles is right. Kids have to be taught that there safety is their own responsibility. I used to drive a scooter all over Flagler County and can’t count the number of times I’ve nearly been run down. I’ve concluded that at an intersection drivers don’t look for ANY oncoming vehicle, but only something big enough to hurt them or damage their vehicle. Smaller objects often don’t seem to register.

  12. David B says:

    That explains it. you’re 86 years old, you shouldn’t be driving.

  13. David B says:

    Every intersection in School Zones, and within walking distance of schools should be properly marked with Cross Walk Lines, and Pedestrians Crossing Signs.

  14. Geezer says:

    Safety Panel Meetings are great for networking and stale donuts.
    But, why not bring some chimps with laser pointers to add an air of urgency?

    The people of Palm Coast expect no less.

  15. Anonymous says:

    lets keep putting schools on main highways and parkways….great idea!

    where I grew up on long island–it is way way way more populated-and the schools are in back roads mainly–buses don’t interfere with traffic-and kids walking home had lots of sidewalks to use too…

    this city must have been planned out and drawn up by total idiots…

  16. Anonymous says:

    also why do I see so many kids walking on belle terre in traffic next to other kids using sidewalks… its like they wanna roll the dice with moving vehicles…

    guess we had more common sense as kids than todays youth..

  17. Kelly says:

    I live in the W section and my child is in 7th grade and he doesn’t even get a bus to the middle school. There are kids on the street in the morning riding there bikes to school because whippoorwill has no sidewalks and if your less then 2 miles from school you do NOT get a bus which is ridiculous. I drive my son to school but there are a lot of kids walking all over the place and riding their bikes to school because they do not get a bus. The city spends money on plants and trees that block all the stop signs off of Whiteview and other places and a lot of people own these over grown vacant lots and never maintain them because they live out of town there are tons of wooded areas in the W section and P section that are so over grown that the city cuts the grass in front of the lot and doesn’t cut all that brush back that your car is half way out past the stop signs to see if anyone is coming. Its ridiculous and its even worse at night when its pitch black out and no lights at all. There are a lot of safety issues that need to be addressed in palm coast.

  18. Will says:

    Kelly’s comments are a good lead in for my observations.
    This spring the City Council decided not to consider street lights for Palm Coast Pkwy from the Library to Rt. 100. I emailed each of them a letter advising that the Parkway was dark at night. There are two schools on the thoroughfare. Sidewalks on either side are used by biking and walking students as well as other neighborhood pedestrians. Visibility is not good for motorists also. Its definitely a safety hazard. Earlier Councils have seen fit to put street lights on Palm Coast Pkwy, Belle Terre North, Pine Lakes Pkwy, Matanzas Woods Pkwy, and others. Obviously, this step would have had no bearing on this accident. But if a Committee is looking for different ways to improve the safety around the schools, this would certainly be a step in the right direction.

  19. Layla says:

    Lucky child. Diane, good points. You will save lives that way.

  20. joe says:

    All students in the city should have sidewalks from there home to the bus top and if they have no bus stop they should have sidewalks the complete route to school, also all bus stop should have a covered seating area off the street. These are children’s lives not just statistacs.

  21. Donna Heiss says:

    Okay, before my children could even walk they were taught NEVER to walk, bike, cross a street without stopping and looking both ways a couple of times.. At NO point was it ever ok for them to walk/bike in front of a vehicle even if they were waved to go. They would stay put until the vehicle passes and then make sure there where no other vehicles around before stepping/biking in the street. Its called parenting. Something I do not see many parents doing these days.

    Streets are made for vehicles. Yes, pedestrians have the right of way, HOWEVER, as a parent it was/is my responsibility to teach my children vehicles hurt/kill. I am one of the few who encourage children to walk on my grass. These people who have signs on their lawn saying “keep off of the grass” need to be reminded of the city easement.

    Why not teach the kids in school road safety, since parents are obviously not.

  22. Kelly says:

    I agree 100% Joe and I also agree with Will too – We need lights

  23. The Truth says:

    No Traffic Enforcement. That is the problem in Palm Coast. As a former police officer I observe when I’m out driving. I see deputies stopped at traffic lights, cars blow the light, and they just sit there like nothing happened. Same with speeding. I see cars going 15-20 over the limit on Belle Terre and P.C. Pkwy. Here comes a deputy passing them. Something is wrong here. We need more radar on sub division roads, and more enforcement city wide. I worked traffic safety and it’s nowhere to be found here in P.C. What are we paying for?. Manfre is the worst Sheriff we ever had. But we got what we elected a lawyer, not a cop. Vote Manfre out next election. Jim you need to wake up your boy

  24. groot says:

    I noticed that the drivers who stop on green, go on red and drive the universal 40 mph speed are back. I doubt some still have peripheral vision. I know I’ll be one of them at some point. I just hope I have enough common sense to stay off the road when I can no longer read the speed limit signs and see the stop lights.

  25. Sherry says:

    In my mind, these tragic accidents are the results of a terrible “perfect storm” of “Cost Cutting” factors:

    1. NOT ENOUGH fully developed School Bus Stops
    2. NOT ENOUGH wide side walks and bike paths
    3. NOT ENOUGH cross walks and safety/traffic lights on school routes
    4. NOT ENOUGH public transportation for the elderly/school kids/everyone else
    5. NOT ENOUGH enforcement/reduction of speed limits on school routes
    6. NOT ENOUGH laws against using a cell phone (for ANYTHING) while driving
    7. NOT ENOUGH safety lessons in our schools. . . including ALL “distracted driving/walking/biking”

  26. sad says:

    Why is someone 86 driving an suv? Hello! Give that man a golf cart!!

  27. Ken Dodge says:

    “7-year-old Wadsworth student Kymora Christian was struck and killed by a car while waiting at her school bus stop Oct. 7, 2015.” So goes the narrative which has been repeated word-for-word at every mention of this awful occurrence. What is being withheld are the actual circumstances that led to this child’s tragic death. Did the car that struck Kymora cross the edge of the roadside to strike her where she stood off the side of the road? Was she standing in the road in the right of way? Or, as was suggested in one of the earliest reports (and since redacted from public view), was she darting out from in front of her mother’s stopped car in an attempt to dash to the bus stop on the opposite side of the street and struck down in the effort? Does it really matter, the reader may ask. It most certainly matters to the joint group charged with weighing the factors leading the county to authorize said study. It will not serve well to base their work on emotion. Facts are what are needed if the public is to be well served by the joint group’s efforts.

  28. Melissa says:

    Donna Heiss is correct (so are a few others), imho!!! People have become so self-entitled! They just walk right onto a road, without looking!!! Idiots! Sure, you might be right – DEAD right. I’m sorry but it’s the pedestrians responsibility to stay safe, obey the rules, stay and behave like motorists anticipate. We are DRIVING a loaded gun here, and we watch out for others (really don’t want to hurt anyone or get in an accident), but quick and stupid pedestrians CAUSE accidents. Run out onto the road from behind a car, tree, sign, or at night. Or believe you are allowed to ride your bike on the sidewalk, without having to stop and look all ways before crossing the ROAD. No, you don’t have the “right of way” to simply keep cycling right on into a roadway. You need to STOP and look. Obviously once you have, and begin to cross, you ARE IN the road now, and the driver is the idiot if he ploughs you over. I teach my children to look, listen, and anticipate (do you see backup lights, the driver making motions to turn, wheels turning?). Also, you need to trust your fellow drivers are smart and aware, but believe they’re either drunk, on their phone, or too old/decreased responsive to drive safely, so they might swerve into you (remember the lady who tried to make Publix a drive through ), or not even see you, especially if you’re small, and it’s dark. It used to be called common sense, and as a kid, it was t about being “right” or who’s at “fault”, it was about not getting hurt! So yes, increase education, but focus on kids learning safety, not when they’re “right”, and part of safety is getting yourself across the street quickly! And I don’t why we STILL don’t have a minimum safety test for elderly yet. We NEED to, especially in Florida! Now don’t go judging me on parallel parking ;), but is my eyesight able to notice peripheral movement? Can I respond to something in an appropriately quick manner? Do I know the rules of the road (like the roundabouts! You CANT turn right, to exit, from the LEFT inside lane! In what part of driving has that ever been ok? You’d yell at someone doing that on the road. But if the person in the outside lane, the right lane, decides to exit APPROPRIATELY, and decides to exit the roundabout into the left lane for an upcoming turn, which ruins your ability to exit/ turn right across lanes, you are some kind of special to actually road rage at them, beeping your horn and waving. Remember inside stays in, or merges to the outside lane, THEN the outside lane exits. ). Anywho, palm coast definitely needs some safety measures for all. But not lowering even more speed limits. Please! That’s why some people drive like crazies – forced to dawdle at 20 for a full mile? I’d rather drive further to get around that than go through it. And people stop paying attention when the speeds too slow, just like most accidents happen close to home , drive speed is slower, so you can fiddle with stuff like your phone.

  29. Melissa says:

    And please, stop with the “beautification” which BLOCKS driver visibility. Instead buy some more buses please? Up north we knew the schoolhours – and could avoid going out then. Like 0800-0900 and 1500-1600. That’s it, there ya go! We poor drivers are feeling the discomfort of city driving now – start, stop, slow, stop, so by the time you can “break free” from the bottleneck, you take off, which is dangerous because then you’re probably going too fast AND not as focused on your driving (how late does that make me now?). So you’re less likely to see something moving slowly across your path, especially at an intersection where you are turning in.

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