Girl struck by car walking to bus stop

  • By DAN BALMER
  • Wednesday, November 12, 2014 5:18pm
  • News

A 9-year-old girl was hit by a car while she was walking to a bus stop on Poppy Ridge Road Wednesday.

Alaska State Troopers first responded to the accident, which occurred shortly after 7:30 a.m. The girl had minor injuries and was taken to Central Peninsula Hospital by Central Emergency Services personnel.

The driver of a Ford F-150, Tracy Cunningham, of Soldotna, was traveling down Poppy Ridge Road approaching Bonita Avenue when she observed a child in dark clothing walking in the middle of her lane. Cunningham attempted to swerve into the ditch to avoid the girl, but the driver’s side mirror struck the girl, according to a troopers report.

Troopers didn’t issue Cunningham a citation.

Kenai Peninsula Borough Health and Safety Officer Brad Nelson said there is no sidewalk on Poppy Ridge Road and the girl was wearing all black clothes while it was still dark out. He said the driver didn’t see her until the last second but did her best to avoid hitting the girl directly.

In response to the incident, the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District issued a press release asking parents to make sure their children are visible at bus stops and while walking or riding bikes. The release suggested that students wear reflective tape and bright clothing while traveling to and from school in the dark to increase visibility. Reflective tape is available from Kenai Peninsula Safe Kids and can be placed on jackets, backpacks and caps.

The school district will review the incident regarding the location of bus stops and routes to school and take corrective action if necessary, according to the release.

School officials and community members have expressed safety concerns in the Poppy Ridge Road area with students walking to the nearby Kenai Peninsula College Kenai River Campus and K-Beach Elementary School along the same route.

Recently, the Kenai Peninsula Borough appropriated a state grant of $463,100 to extend a lighted paved pathway on Poppy Lane from Kalifornsky Beach Road to Poppy Ridge Road to the college.

Superintendent Steve Atwater the school district has worked with Alaska Christian College and KPC for three years to request state funding for the lighted pathway before the borough received capital funding for the project in April.

Atwater said, in a previous Clarion interview, he is anxious to see project completed because so many students from the neighborhood walk to school in that area and he is concerned for children’s safety.

Nelson said he has heard of complaints in the area but CES has not had many responses to pedestrians hit in the Poppy neighborhood.

Troopers encouraged drivers to keep headlights clean of debris, watch for students and drive slow in school zones.

Reach Dan Balmer at daniel.balmer@peninsulaclarion.com.

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