OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – An incident Tuesday morning has shaken up the John Rex Charter School District after an elementary student was hit by a car amid morning rush hour traffic.
Hunsucker Legal Group, a law firm right next to the John Rex Elementary School caught the accident on surveillance, but was unable to release the footage to News 4.
However, we did watch the footage.
It showed a driver coming to a stop at Dewey and Sheridan alongside the drop off line for the school just before 8 a.m.
According to an Oklahoma City Police accident report, the driver was attempting to make a left turn onto Sheridan after she dropped her child off at school.
“U1 [the driver] said she had checked to make sure all the cross walks were clear and that no cars were coming because she knows this time of day is busy,” the report wrote. “U1 said she did not see anyone and began making her turn. U1 said while she was making her turn she did not see pedestrians.”
Surveillance shows the family making it to the middle of the lane the driver attempted to turn into, striking one of the children head on.
The driver appears to be going anywhere between five and 10 mph.
A boy was hit while the adult and other child managed to dodge the accident.
Video shows the boy rolled over the vehicle’s hood, both feet off the ground.
He then rolled over the passenger side of the vehicle and onto the asphalt.
The boy ran to the nearest sidewalk afterwards as the driver immediately stopped her car and got out.
According to the report, a witness said he heard a “loud bang” when the accident happened.
“It’s shocking that any time a student is injured, it’s something that no school wants to ever have happen,” said John Rex Charter School Interim Superintendent Patrick Duffy.
Duffy said this is the first time he has seen an incident like this happen to a student of theirs.
John Hunsucker with Hunksucker Legal Group told KFOR the incident was traumatizing to see, but he’s not surprised it happened.
The crosswalk in which the student was hit on is designed to look like film reel since the area is in the Film District of Downtown OKC.
The crosswalk blends in with the asphalt, making it hard for drivers to see.
There are other intersections surrounding the school, but where the boy was hit is the only one without a stoplight, a four-way stop sign, or thick white lines for a crosswalk.
“No one realizes that it’s actually a crosswalk. There’s inadequate signage that it’s a school zone and that there’s kids out here,” said Hunsucker.
There are ‘End School Zone’ signs right next to the elementary school and alongside the crosswalk as well.
Hunsucker isn’t blaming the school for what happened though.
He said, “They’re very efficient and John Rex does a great job moving the kids in and out and taking care of the kids so they have a numerical system for pick up. The parents are very orderly. They do really good work given that people want them out.”
He does, however, say the City of OKC needs to step up.
Hunsucker stated he has seen drivers fly through the area, driving what he guesses to be 35-40 mph.
“They really need better traffic enforcement and speed enforcement. It’s just too fast, especially in a school area,” he added.
Hunsucker said this isn’t a new concern either and that this has been an ongoing issue for several years.
He and his staff even said they’re extra cautious when crossing the crosswalk because the area is accident-prone.
Another business told KFOR off-camera the pick up and drop off lines for the school are very long to the point where they’re often finding it hard to leave after work.
They told KFOR they’ve seen cars whip around the line to get by it which has nearly caused several accidents as well.
John Rex Charter School plans to redirect the flow of traffic to a different street that has a visible crosswalk.
“[We’ll] keep the families in it in a marked space where traffic is more aware of it and we have the safety of the additional lights and the marked crossings,” said Duffy.
He said Wednesday morning’s flow of traffic “felt much better having families cross at a safer crosswalk that was more observant to the community.”
A parent, who requested to remain anonymous, sent News 4 the email all parents received Tuesday night with details of updated safety features the school is now implementing in response to the accident. It reads:
In light of the most recent incident during morning drop off on Tuesday, we are taking immediate action to ensure the safety of our students, families and staff.
• We are permanently closing the north/blue gate drop off and pick up area. All walkers will be directed to the school’s front door for morning drop off and afternoon pick up. As a reminder, the walking option is intended for students who live walking distance to the school. o Drop off: the front door will open promptly at 7:45 for students whose parents walk them to the school building.
Students MUST be walked to the door by a parent. This door will close at 8:00 and any students must then be checked in as tardy by a parent.
• Pick up: parents who typically pick up at the north/blue gate will use the same procedures as before, but at the front door. Please ensure you have your car tag in hand and stay outside on the sidewalk behind the cones. Students will be called down to meet you there.
• We ask that no families cross Sheridan except for at the lit crosswalks at the intersection of Sheridan and Walker. A staff member will be directing families to walk down the block to cross only at the light.
• There is a designated accessible parking spot in front of the school’s front doors that is only for use by those needing special assistance into the school. We ask all parents to leave that spot open for students and families who need accessible support to get into school.
• Our Traffic Committee met today and are making the following requests of the city’s Public Works Department and the citv’s Traffic Commission
• Immediate white crosswalk striping at all four crosswalks at Dewey and Sheridan
• A 4-way stop sign be placed at Dewey and Sheridan, requiring all drivers to stop at that intersection
• A 3-way stop sign be placed at Walker and California, requiring all drivers to stop at that intersection
• A “Right Turn Only” sign to be posted on Dewey for West Gate drop off requiring all cars to go right only on Sheridan during drop off and pick up hours
• A “No Right Turn” sign to be posted on California, preventing cars from turning north onto Dewey during drop off and pick up hours
• Long term, we are asking the city for a full stop light at Dewey and Sheridan and a half-block signaled crosswalk at Walker and California. This often takes years to get approved, but the request will be made to get the ball rolling.
We want to assure you that student, family and staff safety is what is most important to us. We appreciate evervone’s patience as habits are changed. There will be the need for input from stakeholders in the future as we continue to work on these requests, so please keep your eyes out for ways in which your voice will be needed. We thank you for your support and feedback as we continue to ensure safety at John Rex.
The parent told KFOR the email only ensures a “temporary fix,” also saying the concern of student safety when walking the crosswalk on Dewey and Sheridan has “been raised to the board multiple times.”
News 4 did reach out to the child’s dad who told KFOR in a text, “All his tests/scans came back good. Just some bruising/scrapes on his face and chest.”
It didn’t appear the other child in the video was struck by the car, but the dad said his daughter also has scrapes on her knees.
He said they both went back to school today and were surprised with cards from teachers and friends.
Kristy Yager with the City of Oklahoma City said the city has been contacted by the school and are awaiting a formal request for traffic changes.
Decisions like that are made by the traffic commission.
Oklahoma City Police told KFOR they will not be seeking charges against the driver at this time as they believe this was an accident.
OKCPD said the driver was found not under the influence of anything and did not commit a negligent act.