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To the Parents of the Boy I Almost Killed on Lovely Street

Do you have a teenager who walks to school? This is for you.

Do you have a teenage boy who attends Avon High School? Does he occasionally walk south on Lovely Street to school in the morning? Would you continue reading this article if I told you I almost killed your son last week as I drove past him one Thursday morning on his way to school?

I drive down Lovely Street on many mornings to bring my fifth grader to Thompson Brook School. My kids and I often joke that, “Lovely Street is not lovely.” In fact, it's more like the Indianapolis 500 during the morning rush hour. I struggle to adhere to the 40 m.p.h. speed limit, with a trail of irritated drivers behind me who would rather travel at 50 (or even 55) m.p.h. during their rushed commute to wherever they need to be in the next two minutes.

Two weeks ago, after that dump of fresh snow had fallen, I was bringing my son to school around 7:45 a.m. I had just passed Yorkshire Drive on the left. At that point, the road curves to the right a bit, before Hollister. As I rounded that curve, I passed a boy who was walking south, towards Hollister. He was walking on my side of the road with his back to me and the rest of the southbound traffic. He wore a grayish blue-patterned sweater and gray-colored pants.  In the dim light of a winter morning, he blended quite subtlely into the blurry gray of the snowy wooded area behind him. He wore white earbuds in his ears – I could see the cord traveling from his left ear to the MP3 device he carried in his left pocket.

Because of the recent snowfall, the shoulder of the road was narrower than usual. This boy's path was frightfully close to the cars traveling southbound, at the speed of at least 40 m.p.h., right beside him.  As I passed him, I believe my right side-view mirror whizzed within 18 inches of his left shoulder.

He was oblivious, ambling peacefully along Lovely on his way to another school day, listening to his tunes.

I was incredulous at the staggering risk this boy took. Earbuds in, unable to hear the traffic approaching him from behind, walking with his back to the cars traveling 40-50 m.p.h. If he stumbled over a stick, tripped on uneven pavement, or if the driver of a southbound car looked down for a moment to catch a cup of spilling coffee – any of these things could all too easily have lead to death or devastating injury for this boy.

In retrospect, I wish I had turned back and stopped him to ask who his parents were. I should have called them, then and there, and offered him a ride to school. I decided to submit this piece because it's all I can think to do to bring parents' attention to this potentially fatal circumstance.

We parents live in a world in which we're struck breathless by emotionally crushing stories about tragic mass shootings, alcohol-related car accidents, teen suicides, and other horrific twists of fate that we desperately try to prevent in the name of our intense love for our kids.

Sometimes the most imminent dangers to our children are closer to home, and much more likely, than we might ever dare to imagine. Please, PLEASE talk to your children about walking to school safely.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

maureen conlin January 27, 2013 at 01:03 PM
THANK you for writing this!!!! We live off of Lovely street and my son and I say the same thing every day, "Lovely is street is not Lovely". I hate to be extreme but folks walking or running along this dangerous road are taking a huge risk. THe twists and turns of this road, as well as the distraction of the interesting houses (I here this from visitors all the time), create a very dangerous combination. And the accidents happen regularly to prove the point. Please be careful on the not-so-lovely Lovely street!!!
Nancy usich January 27, 2013 at 01:11 PM
Thank you for writing this, Sarah! Years ago a beautiful 9th grader was tragically hit by a car on West Avon Road leaving the football bon fire. There is an adult who jogs on Lovely Street all in black at night! Just plain scary!!! Everyone needs to be more aware. Nancy Usich
Brendan Mahoney January 28, 2013 at 12:33 AM
Am I missing something here? The problem is not the teenager walking, which last time I checked is a pretty good way to get around. Obviously, he should be walking on the correct side of the street, but that's not what the problem is. The problem is that cars are driving dangerously fast on Lovely St. More to the point, cars drive dangerously fast throughout Avon. Believe it or not, cyclists and pedestrians have the exact same right to be on the roads as cars. I swear. So, stop blaming this kid for walking. My hope was that there was going to be another paragraph that said "Seeing this kid reminded me that we all need to be more careful when driving." Nope, it's "I can't believe people are raising a child who walks places! I might kill him, because I'm bad at driving."
Jan Porri January 28, 2013 at 12:41 AM
Does Avon not provide bus service for your child? Maybe if there were less parents driving their kids to and from school everyday - there would be less cars on the road.
Justin January 28, 2013 at 01:16 AM
Jane that is a whole other problem where the parents baby their kids who refuse to take the bus and want their parents to drive them, causing the parents to be "late" which will then cause them to speed.
Saul Freedman January 28, 2013 at 01:33 AM
You have a point, but the child in this case is not void of any and all responsibility for his own safety. Walking with the traffic instead of against it, walking on the road in dangerous condition, walking with earphones in and removing any situational awareness of what is going on behind him, all are errors by this child.
Sarah Calatayud January 28, 2013 at 01:54 AM
Jan, and Justin, My son takes the bus every day to school. But on Mondays and Fridays he has a before-school choir practice that begins at 7:30 (school begins at 8:20), and on Thursdays he needs to bring his skis to school, and those are not allowed to go on the bus, so I bring him in with his ski equipment. You are absolutely, right, and I send my children on the bus as often as it is available. Good enough? :)
Kay Higgins January 28, 2013 at 01:58 AM
Sara, although I agree that we do have to teach and reinforce safety messages with our children, we also have a responsibility to drive at or below the speed limit, depending on the road and visibility conditions. It's frustrating to have to deal with other drivers who are irate that I'm obeying the law, but worse to have to call 911.
Russ January 28, 2013 at 02:02 AM
I see this situation too often,. I live on New Rd in Avon and it's mostly adults who like to walk two and three abreast blocking most of the lane of travel as I come around a blind curve at 40 mph. I hit the brakes and my heart is in my throat!! Yet the people walking in the road don't even look behind them or even attempt to move over....what is wrong with you! You know who you are!
Sarah Calatayud January 28, 2013 at 02:17 AM
Kay, agreed 200%.
Sarah Calatayud January 28, 2013 at 02:25 AM
Brendan, was it you that I saw walking to school the other day? As I read your comment a second time, I realized you must be a kid who walks on the Avon roads occastionally. I didn't mean to insult you. I just want you to be safe. Yes, people should drive more slowly, but they don't. Please take my words in the spirit in which they were intended - I don't want to see anything happen to you, or any of your classmates, on your way to school. Please be careful. No harm meant.
Brendan Mahoney January 28, 2013 at 03:01 AM
@Sarah, no, definitely wasn't me. I graduated from Avon High in 2001. I haven't walked to AHS in a very long time. I totally agree that walking on the wrong side of the road with headphones is a bad idea. No argument from me in that regard. I also think that it's vital to have lights on your bike if you ride at night. However, roads are for everyone and roads are not made inhospitable and dangerous because of a pedestrian on the wrong side of the road. They're dangerous because people drive too fast, too poorly and too distracted.
Heather Satlof January 28, 2013 at 03:29 AM
How can we solve the problem of speeding and safety on Lovely, Burnham and Arch? Old Farms Road has the problem of speeders passing law abiding drivers~ what if a facing car comes around the curve? And there must be a reason for the "no-turn on red" onto Waterville. Thank you Avon Patch for offering Sarah the opportunity to address a "citizens'" fears!
Jessie Sawyer (Editor) January 28, 2013 at 04:15 AM
You're welcome, Heather. Though the credit all goes to Sarah. She contacted me with this story so I suggested she post it on Local Voices. We just provided a place for her to share her voice. So, Sarah, I must thank you! You have a gift with words. Jessie Sawyer Editor, Avon Patch
NYtoCT January 28, 2013 at 10:45 AM
I have done everything I can to get drivers to slow down on Juniper Dr. News, police, signs! Nothing works. If you pass on this street, please slow down. I cannot handle burying another family member.
Sarah Calatayud January 28, 2013 at 02:07 PM
@Brendan, I agree with your last statement 100%. Nowhere in my piece did I imply that this boy was making the roads inhospitable or dangerous. Nor did I state, "I can't believe people are raising a child who walks places! I might kill him, because I'm bad at driving." Nor did I "blame" the kid for walking. You initial interpretations of my piece were completely off-point, and they seemed suspiciously defensive in nature. I hope kids walk carefully and mindfully wherever they go and I hope they all walk MORE. That being said, even with the legal right of way and the right to walk on the road (properly) anywhere they choose, it would be "not smart" (some might even use the word "stupid") to risk one's life just to prove a point. If a child walking to school is struck by a car, his/her parents will not care who was in the right or the wrong. They'll wish they had talked to him/her about the dangers of walking on a road with speeding distracted drivers. And THAT was my point. :)
Sarah Calatayud January 28, 2013 at 02:57 PM
Jessie, thank you for the opportunity to get the piece in the Patch. My goal was to raise awareness, and I hope there were some conversations at home between parents and their kids.
nope January 29, 2013 at 01:14 AM
@Russ - if you seriously went round a blind curve at 40 mph such that it was difficult to stop when you encountered an obstruction, then you were driving dangerously and possibly illegally. If you cannot safely stop in the visible road distance in front of you, then you are going too fast.
Steve Stanford January 29, 2013 at 07:34 PM
@RUSS - The speed limit on New Road is 30 MPH. Slow down!
Sarah Calatayud January 30, 2013 at 02:38 AM
@Dylan: Perhaps you should have walked on busy roads, with your back to traffic, earbuds in, just a little more often. :)
Dylan T. Marquis January 30, 2013 at 02:44 AM
I'm Dylan marquis my friend posted that as me As a joke no need for death threats though, Jesus lady I could report you for that even though the comment was mean.
Joey Henneberry January 30, 2013 at 03:23 AM
First if all, both of my parents work, so it's not their fault that their 16 year old son was an idiot and missed the bus. Second, I'm not going to call my mommy and daddy to stop what they're doing and come pick me up. Third, even though I was walking on the wrong side of the road, a pedestrian always has the right of way so if you hit me guess what, your fault. Lastly, walking builds character and since I was born with a fine pair of legs I think it's ok that I use them every once in awhile instead of being chauffeured everywhere by my parents.
Heff January 30, 2013 at 03:27 AM
This would've been a good article if you didn't try to rationalize hitting somebody.
Sarah Calatayud January 30, 2013 at 03:54 AM
@Heff: English isn't your best subject, is it, my friend? :) Stay safe.
Sarah Calatayud January 30, 2013 at 03:58 AM
@Joey, If this really is Joey Henneberry, I know. I've met your mom. I'm certainly not calling anyone an idiot, and you are correct about pedestrians having the right of way. But if you are run down, in your "right of way," by a distracted driver, your mother and father will be more devastated than you could possibly imagine. And you will not get to do the great things that are surely in your future - so why risk it? Walking does build character, and it's also great for you. My wish is that you will be mindful, while you're walking, of what's happening around you on the road, and PLEASE be safe. All the best to you and your family.
katlnhat January 30, 2013 at 04:01 PM
Thank you, Sarah, for writing this. Sadly, it happens far too much in every CT town. Our son's grown now, but even back then, (I'm in East Windsor, the roads are thin, too much traffic, no sidewalks, etc's), people walked and cars sped too fast. Safety is owned by all of us! Drive slowly, it's better to get where you're going and be a bit late than to not get there at all. Kids - same goes for you, except it's stay on the very side of the road - don't stop yourself from hearing approaching traffic by listening to music. Better for you, as well, to get where you're going SAFELY, because in the end, no matter whose fault it is, does it matter? Dead or severely injured isn't worth taking the chance.
Adriana Figueroa January 30, 2013 at 09:48 PM
I live in Canton, CT off of lovely street im 21 years old a cautious driver and i've nearly missed a walker or two myself, driving all hours of the day down lovely street. I can't fathom the day when a child, adult or teen gets injured by a series of unfortunate events thats just waiting to happen. I understand people like to run and walk for whatever reason they may have but it is just as safe as it is to walk on the side of the highway. IT IS NOT!!!!. and should not be deemed okay. Wether it is 9 a.m. or 5 p.m. Like you said, it can take a split second of a mishap to lead to something much more serious. Let's change this for the sake of everyone :) your voice and concern is much appreciated. sincerley a concerned and very young citizen. Adriana
Wyatt January 30, 2013 at 10:52 PM
Excellent article. Well said and a necessary read.
Heather Satlof January 30, 2013 at 11:31 PM
I'm so happy that a young driver recognizes the danger of driving too fast down Lovely Street! How do you recommend encouraging drivers to drive safely around pedestrians?
Happy Percy February 05, 2013 at 02:30 PM
Too many people are not responsible, the people who wear all Black at night and they expect you to see them, wether walking or riding a bike. there is something to be said about survival of the fitest as you are just Stupid to be out at night like this. I just recently almost hit tis type of person , even though in a cross-walk, but oblivious to the thought that no one could see them dressed all in Black, no light or reflector. Manuy years ago a bike rider was hit by a semi tractor and I felt worsr for the driver of the truck then the bike rider, as I had seen this person out in all kinds of weather and I would often say to my wife, I feel sorry for the person that will hit this guy, becuase I can hardly see him! People need to think of these conditions and it isn'talways the drivers fault, and sorry to say but most pedestrians never survive to talk about the consequences

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