April 1, 2011 | Back to: Opinion

Questions arise after vehicle hits NU student

A 17-year-old Nevada Union High School student was recovering at home after being hit in the crosswalk of Ridge Road on Wednesday afternoon after school.

The accident that sent Luke Brown crashing into the windshield and then catapulting through the air over the car has prompted an outpouring of concern about safety issues on the busy road fronting the campus.

Brown was transported to Sutter Roseville Medical Center, treated and released.

The identity of the female driver has not been released and the accident remains under investigation.

He is the second NU student struck on Ridge Road in the last four months. Greg Trujillo was seriously injured while in a crosswalk at about 6 p.m. Dec. 9.

"He was in a coma for a week," said Andrea Racko, whose daughter, Karly Pruett, was with Trujillo at the time of the accident. "He's still recovering."

Pruett and Trujillo were walking back from Briar Patch market to the Baptist Church parking lot across the street, Racko said.

Because it was getting dark, they hit the button that lights up the flashing strips on the crosswalk, she said.

"They were almost all the way across the street" when Trujillo was hit by a vehicle and thrown 40 feet, Racko said.

"The car missed (Karly) by a few inches," she said, adding Pruett remains traumatized to the point where she is "hardly able to cross the street at night."

Trujillo doesn't remember the accident, Racko said.

He was transported to Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital and then air-lifted to Sutter Roseville Medical Center. He later spent time recuperating in a brain trauma center in San Francisco, and is still undergoing occupational therapy.

Racko called for an investigation into the history of pedestrian injuries on Ridge Road.

"What steps came into play for them to put a crosswalk there?" she said. "Why no stop sign, why no light? It's obviously a chronic problem."

Former Grass Valley city council member Chauncey Poston, who sat on the city's traffic safety committee for six years, could not recall any instances of people being hit on the stretch of road during his tenure.

"The bigger problem was parking and lack of visibility," he said. "We had to do a lot of work in terms of speeding and parking out of the high school."

Grass Valley Police Capt. Dave Remillard said five vehicle-versus-pedestrian accidents were reported within city limits in 2010, with three so far this year.

He could recall only two fatalities in 20 years, a couple struck on South Auburn and Race streets.

"It's a school zone and people need to know there's a lot of traffic, and take that into consideration," he said.

Thursday afternoon, Principal Marty Mathiesen was escorting students across the street.

He did not return a call for comment.

Grass Valley City Councilman Dan Miller - an alternate on the city's traffic safety committee - noted that Grass Valley Police and Nevada County Sheriff's deputies often patrol the area when school lets out.

"There is a crosswalk and flashing lights," Miller said. "You can't monitor everybody in a car ... I don't know what the remedy would be."

To contact Staff Writer Liz Kellar, e-mail lkellar@theunion.com or call (530) 477-4229.


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The Union Updated Apr 1, 2011 12:19AM Published Apr 1, 2011 12:17AM Copyright 2011 The Union. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.