Following Wheeler pedestrian crash, county looks to improve intersection

March 19, 2019

EAST COBB — Months after being asked to count foot traffic that travels within a crosswalk in front of Wheeler High School, county crews are once again examining the intersection to determine if changes need to be made to improve pedestrian safety.

The Cobb Department of Transportation placed pedestrian monitoring cameras at a Holt Road crosswalk last week, county spokesperson Ross Cavitt said, adding the study of the crossing had been scheduled well before the pedestrian crash that injured two young men on March 9 while they were moving what witnesses described as a large piece of athletic equipment across the crosswalk.

The survey was the second one to occur at the intersection since this fall, Cavitt said, with the first happening after Wheeler administrators reached out to Cobb Commissioner Bob Ott to seek an examination of pedestrian safety there. Ott could not be reached for comment by press time.

“They did a pedestrian study there and … it didn’t meet the qualifications for a crosswalk at that time,” Cavitt said Friday. Cavitt did not provide specifics as to the initial data shown by the study and what benchmarks they may have initially fallen short of to gain additional safety measures.

But Cavitt clarified Monday the pedestrian study on the crosswalk area was never fully completed, as DOT staff was waiting on data from two dates identified as having “significant pedestrian traffic” due to scheduled school events.

Those dates were this past Thursday and next Monday, March 25.

Struck by a black 2007 Mercedes Benz SLK350 driven by 73-year-old Nancy Valentine, the crash led the teens to both be taken to WellStar Kennestone Hospital, with one suffering life-threatening injuries and the other serious injuries, Cobb Police previously said. Investigators expect to charge Valentine in relation to the crash, according to Officer Neil Penirelli, spokesperson for Cobb police, though specific charges had not been announced as of Monday afternoon.

If the current study of the crossing ultimately justifies improvements to the corridor, Cavitt said, possible additions to the intersection include pedestrian crossing signs with yellow flashing lights or red lights that would stop vehicle traffic when activated by a pedestrian waiting to cross.

″(Cobb DOT is) already in discussion with the school district over what kind of crosswalk device would be appropriate and whether other actions can be done to improve safety in the area,” Cavitt added.

The crash remains under investigation and anyone with information is asked to contact the Cobb County Police Department at 770-499-3987.