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Injury prompting review of school crossing safety

February 19, 2004|by WANDA T. WILLIAMS

wandaw@herald-mail.com

All it takes is a split second for a child to run into the street. That's why it's important for drivers to watch their speed and look and listen for children walking to and from Winter Street Elementary School, said school crossing guard Linda Corderman.

Corderman, who is on duty in the afternoon, said she's still upset over a Tuesday morning accident in which a 6-year-old girl was struck by a car while on her way to Winter Street Elementary.

The girl was with her siblings when one of them motioned for her to cross the street and she darted in front of a car, Hagerstown Police Department Sgt. Fred Wolford said.

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Hagerstown Police Lt. Margaret Kline said Wednesday the driver will not be charged.

On Wednesday, teachers at the school in Hagerstown's West End cautioned students to follow street safety guidelines, Washington County Public Schools spokeswoman Carol Mowen said.

"This has me so devastated," crossing guard Barbara Michael said. "Cars just fly down that street weaving in and out of traffic, from the time I get there until I leave. Drivers blow their horns and they have no patience."

Michael was working as a crossing guard at the intersection of Washington Avenue and Winter Street when the kindergarten student was hit about half a block away, in front of 613 Washington Ave.

"We've lived here four years and witnessed numerous close encounters," said Melody Paul, who's husband, Nathan, called police after the girl was hit in front of the couple's home.

The student was taken Washington County Hospital and later transferred to Children's National Medical Center in Washington, where she was in critical condition Wednesday night.

Michael said she reminded children to never cross the street where there are no crossing guards on duty. Carrying a large hand-held stop sign and dressed in a black uniform with a bright orange vest, Michael is part of a team of crossing guards on duty in the Winter Street area between 7:50 and 8:30 a.m., she said.

"You can't miss me, and I blow my whistle whenever kids get unruly, which is rare," Michael said. "But we need parents to help us teach kids the importance of safety when crossing the street."

Winter Street Elementary is the only Washington County public school where the entire student body walks to and from school, Mowen said. The school has 295 students in kindergarten through fourth grade.

Winter Street Elementary School Principal Kathy Kelsey met with teachers following the accident to review safety procedures. She also sent letters to parents informing them about the accident and asking them to remind their children how to cross the street safely, Mowen said.

Next week, Kelsey will meet with school safety and security specialist Paul Rudolph to discuss what additional measures need to be taken to increase the safety of students.

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