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In 5th Incident Since September, Car Strikes a Student Biking Home From School

| December 1, 2015

indian trails middle school bike wreck

The wreck took place at the northrenmost entrance to Indian Trails Middle School.

Same pattern, new victim: for the fifth time in just over two months, a driver struck a student on a bike as the student was riding home from school this afternoon on Belle Terre Parkway in Palm Coast. As in three previous incidents involving vehicles against students on their bike, the driver was at fault, while the student was following the rules of the road.

The wreck took place at 1:35 p.m. when an Indian Trails Middle School 8th grader on his bike was biking across the northernmost entrance to the middle school, a clearly marked crosswalk. Stephen Large, 42, the parent of a child at Indian Trails, was at the wheel of a 2014 Toyota four-door, at the stop sign, preparing to drive onto Belle Terre, when he drove and struck Griffin Wilder, 13.

“The child went on the hood of the car, and of course the child was taken for treatment” at Florida Hospital Flagler, a Flagler County Sheriff’s spokesman said. The student was treated and released.

Large was cited for failure to yield at a crosswalk, a moving infraction that carries a fine of $166.

“We have seen a trend in these crashes, and other crashes also,” the sheriff’s office’s Jim Troiano said, referring to the previous crashes involving cyclist students this year: in every case, the student was in a crosswalk. In every case, the student had followed the rules, but the driver had not, likely failing to look left, right and left again, as it is not uncommon for a pedestrian or a cyclist to enter a crosswalk in the instants when the driver is looking the other way, even after having looked in the direction of the pedestrian or the cyclist.

“This to me certainly gores back to driver awareness. That’s a mandate,” Troiano said. “People have a responsibility when they drive their vehicle to do it responsibly.” He said students, too, must be aware of rules, right-of-way regulations and safety, something parents and the sheriff’s office can help teach.

Flagler Schools in a release this afternoon said it “would like to remind drivers and students alike to pay close attention in and around school zones as well as bus stops, especially during the time just before school is in session as well as at dismissal. Bike riders also need to wear helmets at all times. If they are unable to purchase a helmet, school administrators can make arrangements to get a helmet to any student in need of one.” (For more information contact Jason Wheeler, Information Specialist for Flagler Schools at 386/­437-­7526, extension 2110.)

So far this year, two students from Indian Trails Middle School and two students from Buddy Taylor Middle School have been struck by vehicles, one of them by a school bus, going back to a Sept. 21 incident on Park View Drive. A fifth incident, involving a 7-year-old girl, resulted in the girl’s death. That incident took place at a bus stop in Palm Coast’s W Section.

The rash of crashes involving students led officials from the school board and Palm Coast government to create a joint working committee to analyze possible safety improvements. The group has so far brain-stormed various ideas but hasn’t settled on any particular approach. The focus has been on students rather than on drivers, though driver error has been the primary reason for the crashes involving the four middle school students.

There’s no date set for the next meeting but one is likely before Christmas, Andy Dance, the school board member who’s been taking part in those committee meetings, said.

“If you look at the research of most of these instances,” Dance said, “they happen in areas like that like crosswalks. Crosswalks are a focal point for these conflicts. I think three of them have been in the crosswalk area. It’s clear that everybody needs to pay more attention in their surroundings, because again these things are happening in places that have been designated, so people should be paying attention at striped crosswalks.”

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9 Responses for “In 5th Incident Since September, Car Strikes a Student Biking Home From School”

  1. Anonymous says:

    Drivers in this town are terrible. Everyone is in a hurry. You take your life in your hands when you drive somewhere. I see people run stop signs daily. In shopping centers they never pay attention to pedestrians. Wise up Flagler County Sheriff’s Office! Please start ticketing these people. Deputies need to be more visual.

  2. Michael Taylor says:

    I started the page on face-book “safer streets in palm coast” I have been trying to get something done about the road I live on for about a year and a half, whom ever reads this comment and is tired of lip service from our local “leaders” please if you are on face-book look us up and lets band together and get something done… This has gone on long enough, enough people have been hurt or worse. As residents we need to stir up the masses and exercise our power of the vote, if they are not going to re-act and be active or pro-active, lets get them out of office…

  3. Two sides says:

    Sometimes it’s the driver’s fault. Sometimes it’s the kids fault. I drive to work and have to beep at the kids to get out of the street. Many of the kids are listening to music while walking well into the middle of the road. And some won’t move over.

    I’ve seen adults do the same. I was driving one morning with the kids in the road. And down the road was a couple side-by-side. I was going one way, and there was another car coming in the opposite direction. Both of us were driving slow, but the adults didn’t bother to move over.

    I don’t know who’s legally responsible, but use common sense when walking. If you want to get your walk, running, or bike ride in, maybe it’s just best off to drive to the trails. I will no longer walk with my children on our streets. It’s just not worth the risk. I’ll put the bikes in the back of the SUV if we want to ride.

  4. David B says:

    Perhaps Deputies should be placed at all school crossings during the times kids are going and leaving schools for that day. See how the drivers will react when they see Deputies monitoring the traffic so kids can get to school and home safely. Two hours a day shouldn’t be that much Sheriff Manfre.

  5. m&m says:

    You blame drivers for going fast when in fact there are many drivers going 15 to 20 miles UNDER the posted speed limt and when they get passed they think the other car is speeding. These slow drivers should be the ones who get a ticket. They are abstucting traffic and are the real problem.

  6. Sue says:

    What I do not understand is that if this is a crosswalk at the school, why is there not a crossing guard?

  7. Anonymous says:

    guess the keyboard warriors here don’t drive through there daily-I live in this area—the kids seem to play “chicken” with cars quite often–intending to disrupt traffic and thinks its amusing…..why? cause they are kids!!

    you could have sidewalks all over palm coast and it wouldn’t change a thing-parents are just not teaching their kids about safety–I bet if someone posted a picture of the kid and his bike I would recognize him as one of the kids that screws around in traffic anyway…

    shame he learned a lesson this way

  8. anonymous says:

    How about don’t try and blame someone when you have no idea what happened! This child actually has extremely great parents and it was all a misunderstanding between the car and the pedestrian with them not knowing who was going to go first while both were at a stand still. He is a great kid and Thank God he didn’t lose his life!

  9. Woody says:

    People need to put down their cell phones.Even if they are not talking or texting they have it in their damn hands.I ride a motorcycle in this town and it is almost a death ride everytime,I yell at people all the time for using their phone and not paying attention.

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