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Parents Renew Call for Safety Measures After Student Struck Near UWS School

By Emily Frost | March 27, 2015 5:36pm | Updated on March 30, 2015 8:58am
 The corner of West 77th Street and Columbus is too busy and needs a crossing guard and additional safety features to make it safer, parents of kids who go to school next door argued. 
Parents Demand Safety Infrastructure at UWS Corner
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UPPER WEST SIDE — Parents upset by a recent collision that injured a 13-year-old boy at a busy intersection are renewing their call for a crossing guard and other safety measures at the site — claiming "red tape" prevented them from happening sooner. 

On Tuesday, an eighth-grader from The Computer School was hit while crossing Columbus Avenue in the crosswalk at West 77th Street by a driver turning left onto Columbus Avenue, police said. 

The boy underwent surgery on his leg Wednesday after suffering a compound fracture, according to officials and Parents Association President Michelle Lipkin.

Parents said they feel a mix of guilt and frustration because they believe the crash could have been prevented if requests they made back in December to the Department of Transportation and the NYPD had been heeded. 

At the time, they asked the DOT for curb extensions to give pedestrians more sidewalk space around the intersection, as well as more signage indicating to drivers that there are schools in the area, Lipkin said.

They also asked the NYPD for a crossing guard at the intersection to help parents and students navigate the busy crosswalk across Columbus Avenue.

P.S. 452, an elementary school, as well as The Anderson School, serving grades K-8, and The Computer School, a middle school, are all housed within the O'Shea campus at that intersection. 

The intersection also includes Shake Shack and the American Museum of Natural History. 

This week's crash was not the first near the school, parents and administrators noted.

On Halloween last year, another eighth-grade boy darted into the street on West 77th Street near Columbus Avenue and was hit by a cab, said Sara Sloves, the school's parent coordinator. 

NYPD data showed a pedestrian was injured in a crash with a taxi at 3 p.m. that day at the same location, though the cause of the incident wasn't specified.

The FDNY did not immediately respond to request for comment regarding the nature of the injuries.

Parents said the boy wasn't badly hurt, but the incident put concerns over street safety near the schools "into an urgent frame of mind," Lipkin noted.

"This is a warning sign that we have to do something about this," she said.

But despite their requests and a follow-up with elected officials, nothing happened.

"I feel like [Tuesday's] incident really hurt because it makes me feel incredibly bad that we didn’t push harder," Lipkin said.

The fact that the 13-year-old wasn't more badly injured was "a miracle," she added. If the victim had been a younger child — like a first-grader from P.S. 452 or P.S. 87, located a block away — it might have been a different story, Lipkin explained.

City Councilmember Helen Rosenthal also noted that she's been asking the NYPD for a crossing guard on that corner since January.

She's met with the 20th Precinct's commanding officer, Capt. Michael Falcon, who is in charge of deploying crossing guards, but one hasn't been secured yet, she said. 

Falcon did not respond to a request for comment. 

A DOT spokeswoman said the agency would review the signage and markings around the intersection but that it hasn't received requests for any other safety enhancements. If the agency does receive additional requests, it will review them, she added.

The spokeswoman also said DOT reps could come to the school to talk about street safety. 

"As a city we have to move faster on these incidents," Lipkin said. "If we had, maybe [the crash] wouldn’t have happened."

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