One of five dangerous target intersections being watched by the Louisville Metro Police Department (LMPD) as part of the city’s Look Alive Louisville pedestrian safety campaign is at Fourth Street and Broadway. On Monday night one block west, a pedestrian was struck by an off-duty LMPD officer who failed to yield to the unnamed person crossing Broadway in a crosswalk.
The off-duty officer was driving his cruiser north on Fifth Street and was attempting to turn right onto Broadway. LMPD spokesman Dwight Mitchell was quoted in the Courier-Journal saying the officer “failed to observe a male pedestrian and struck him as he was crossing.” WHAS11 later reported the pedestrian was in the crosswalk.
The collision occurred at about 9:30p.m. Monday night and the pedestrian was taken to University Hospital with minor injuries. The speed limit on this stretch of Fifth Street is 35 miles per hour. Fifth is a four-lane, one-way street heading north while two-way Broadway contains seven lanes.
According to Metro Louisville’s data analysis of pedestrian crashes, motorist inattention is the number one condition leading to collisions, followed by failure to yield. Only eight percent of pedestrian collisions between 2006 and 2010 involved right hand turning.
This case illustrates the difficulty of reporting such collisions in the news. Every local television station and the Courier-Journal carried some notice of the crash, but each approach was very concise and slightly different if generally boilerplate. For example.
WDRB reported the driver turned left, not right, despite having someone on the scene to take video. The report noted the “officer’s car hit a pedestrian” not that the officer driving the car hit the person. To their credit, they did not call the collision an accident.
WLKY ran a boilerplate crash report with a whopping 61 words. They also did not call the collision an accident and did note the officer struck the pedestrian, not his car.
WHAS11 somehow beat them, using only 53 words (9 of them noting the story would be updated) in their initial report, the station called the event an “officer-involved accident.” WHAS11 was the only news source to update their story, as promised, adding that the pedestrian was in the crosswalk, and replacing the word accident with crash. They also say the officer hit the pedestrian, not his car.
WAVE3 follows suit with a boilerplate text, but it did note the officer, not his car, hit the pedestrian. The station went on to call the crash an accident and cast doubt on whether the pedestrian was in the crosswalk. “It is not known if the pedestrian was in a crosswalk. LMPD is investigating the accident. No charges are expected to be filed,” the station added to their report.
The C-J also reported on cars hitting pedestrians, not their drivers. “A pedestrian was struck by a Louisville Metro Police Department vehicle,” the newspaper wrote, but they did call the crash an incident rather than an accident.