Call for change following another deadly year for pedestrians in Tucson

Call for change after spike in pedestrian fatalities in Tucson

TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - This year has been a particularly deadly one for pedestrians in Tucson.

The number of fatalities jumped sharply from 2018, which is concerning to both authorities and those who get around on foot.

A family of one of the pedestrians killed in 2019 shared an emotional message.

“It’s sad, you know, for someone to die like that: unexpected,” said Yarelyn Sendino. “It’s hard because (my sister) was so young. Christmas wasn’t the same, nothing is the same anymore because you are missing that one person at the table.”

On Feb. 28, 17-year-old Joana Sendino was crossing Silverlake Road near Cottonwood Lane. She was trying to catch her school bus when she was struck and killed by a vehicle.

Yarelyn said her sister had a muscular disability that prevented her from running across the street.

The area Joana was crossing at is considered an “unmarked crosswalk” by the city of Tucson.

Ever since her sisters died, Yarelyn has been pushing for a HAWK light at the intersection. She also wants to see more across the city.

“(This) is not only a message to the City about HAWKs, but also to the people driving,” Yarelyn said. “Just respect pedestrians, slow down. If you see someone walking, stop. Let’s help each other out, you know? So we won’t be having so many pedestrian deaths.”

According to the Tucson Police Department, 39 people have been killed walking on Tucson’s streets this year, compared to 29 the same time last year. A big spike in what’s been a steady rise over the past five years.

“It’s outrageous,” said Yarelyn. “Ever since that happened to my sister, I follow a lot of pedestrian deaths (in the news and on Facebook).”

“I’m scared to cross the street,” said Lise-Anne Tijerino.

Tijerino uses in the unmarked crosswalk on Silverlake Road near Cottonwood Lane almost daily. She puts her hand out and wears a reflective vest but said she’s still had several close calls.

“A few times, (the vehicles) were (inches away from hitting me),” she said.

Tijerino said there are several bad intersections around the city.

“It’s been safer for me to jaywalk than for me to cross the street at a crosswalk on Mission and Ajo,” she said. “Can you believe that? Jaywalking is safer!”

Yarelyn said she finds peace knowing change will come.

“I know (Joana’s) death brought something good,” she said.

The intersection at Silverlake Road and Cottonwood Lane is slated to get a HAWK light in 2021.

Construction on the following intersections will get underway in the summer of 2020:

  • 22nd Street & Irving Avenue
  • Campbell Avenue & Wyoming Street
  • 6th Avenue & Ohio Street
  • Alvernon Way & Bellevue Street
  • Pima Street & Mountain View Avenue
  • Prince Road & Crescent Manor Drive

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