‘Half her body was on the street’: Fast cars, wide roads and pedestrians
Author: Digital Producer: Jane Mo, Researcher/Producer: Erin Richey, Executive Producer: David Raziq
Published: 4:08 PM CST February 23, 2018
Updated: 2:28 PM CST February 28, 2018
INVESTIGATIONS 2 Articles
EXPLORE

‘Half her body was on the street’: Fast cars, wide roads and pedestrians

INVESTIGATIONS
Chapter 1

The last day I heard from her

"Half her body was on the street, half her body was still in the car."

Dorene did not know it would be the last message she would send to her sister.

The conversation over text would be the last words ever shared between the two sisters.

Can't see the conversation? Click here: http://gph.is/2ERPwfg

In March 2017, 55-year-old Doletha Hudson was crossing Natural Bridge Avenue to get to a bus stop when a driver struck and killed the grandmother on impact.

"I just started hollering and asking the Lord, 'I want to be with my sister. I've got to see my sister,'" Dorene Brown said.

There have been ten pedestrian deaths on Natural Bridge Avenue in the last decade.

"Half her body was on the street, half her body was still in the car," said Stacy Hudson Kidd, Hudson's daughter. "Her body was just dismembered, due to someone hitting her. Someone speeding. Someone who should've known better."

Missouri has the highest pedestrian fatalities amongst its neighboring states in 2016, with the exception of Oklahoma. (Nationally, Missouri is 20th for highest pedestrian fatalities, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association).

For the past decade in Missouri, 38 pedestrians who died on stroads were younger than 10. 31 pedestrians were older than 80.

Here are the pedestrian deaths each year in Missouri:

In St. Louis alone, there have been 125 pedestrian deaths. The city has the highest number even compared to all counties in the state.

78 of those have been on stroads.

What is a stroad?

A stroad is the combination of a street and a road. The danger lies in pedestrians crossing on wide roads with fast-moving cars.

"That's kind of the perfect storm," Jamie Wilson, head of St. Louis' street department said. "The roads are designed a certain way and it's very costly to design it any way differently. Not that it can't be done, but money often becomes an obstacle."

Can't see the stroad explanation? Click here: http://gph.is/2HMZTmD

According to pedestrian fatalities in the past 10 years, the most lethal roads in St. Louis (not including interstates) are:

  1. Grand Avenue (21 deaths)
  2. Broadway and Riverview (11 deaths)
  3. Natural Bridge Avenue (10 deaths)

The list does not include the pedestrian death on Feb. 13 at Grand and Montgomery and also the death on Natural Bridge at the intersection with Goodfellow on Jan. 21.

Can't see the map? Click here: http://gph.is/2HPiU7W

Explore the interactive map to see pedestrian fatalities in your county:

App Users! Having trouble seeing the map and data? Click Here!

Chapter 2

The oyster bar

"It's a pain that never goes away"

23-year-old Amber Wood was crossing Broadway in downtown St. Louis when a speeding car hit and killed her. She was thrown 80 feet.

"It's just unbelievable that I think it's been almost six years since I heard her voice or got to talk to her," Georgie Busch, Amber's mother said. "That's tough. It hurts."

Amber Wood

For two blocks leading up to Broadway Oyster Bar, there's nothing to slow cars down on Broadway.

When Amber was hit, her mother said employees of the oyster bar came out to protect Amber's body from other cars and people.

"There used to be poles, bump-outs, here, but it looks like those are gone," Busch said as she stood near Broadway. "I don't feel that things have changed."

For years, Busch has lobbied the city to improve safety in that area.

"It's very hard to slow people down," Wilson, head of the city's street department said. "The roads are designed a certain way and it's very costly to design it any way differently. Not that it can't be done, but money often becomes an obstacle, a major obstacle, for doing that type of thing."

The city published a Pedestrian Safety Action Plan in 2013 to prevent pedestrian deaths. Their two goals include installing, improving signage and pavement markings and to also educate pedestrians on safe habits.

"A lot of our fatalities are the result of people ignoring the things that are already in place," Wilson said.

The PSAP's goal was to achieve fewer than 52 pedestrian serious injuries or fatalities in the city by 2016.

That year, 17 people died and 277* (patrol does not mention how many of those were 'serious') were injured in pedestrian-related crashes, according to the Missouri State Highway Patrol.

"It's up to us to find creative ways, whether it's through federal programs, private partnerships...be a little more creative in finding different grants," Wilson said.

The director of the city's street department said figuring out how to fix the stroads is not the main problem.

"It's just really the problem is finding the money to do that," he said. "And right now we are funded to maintain our streets, not to do capital improvement projects."

Closure

The driver who allegedly hit and killed Doletha Hudson has another hearing in April. Tre'Vion Cunningham is charged with first-degree involuntary manslaughter, armed criminal action and leaving the scene of an accident with physical injury.

The driver who killed Amber has still not been found.

"It's a pain that never goes away, because then you always try to think...what could you have done differently," Busch said.

If you have any information about the death of Amber Wood, call the CrimeStoppers anonymous hotline at 1-866-371-TIPS for a reward of up to $5,000.