These Virginia counties are taking action following a spike in people being hit by drivers

Posted at 10:54 PM, Feb 15, 2024
and last updated 2024-02-16 06:22:29-05

RICHMOND, Va. -- Diamond Nakita Downs was a young Henrico woman whose family said had a bright future as a student at Virginia Union University.

However, they said Downs' dreams will never come to fruition after she was struck and killed by a driverwalking home from work across Brook Road Tuesday evening.

“It’s shocking but at the same time it is not shocking in other respects because I know how dangerous those intersections are,” said Jeff South.

South who lives near the intersection where Downs was hit said something needs to be done to increase safety on roads like Brook Road because there are no crosswalks.

Downs, 22, is one of a couple of dozen pedestrians killed in the Richmond area within the past year.

According to police data, Richmond, Henrico, and Chesterfield counties show pedestrian crashes are on the rise.

At a glance, Richmond’s Vision Zero dashboard shows nine pedestrians were killed in 2023 when the three-year average was seven.

In Chesterfield, numbers show they’ve already seen the same number of fatal pedestrian crashes so far this year compared to all of last year.

In Henrico, a fifth of the pedestrian crashes so far this year have been fatal, according to the Henrico Police Department.

“We hate making that notification to loved ones knocking on their doors saying their loved one has been lost due to something like this that can be prevented easily,” Lieutenant Shawn Kopelove, who is in Henrico’s Traffic Safety Unit, said.

Kopelove said many of the drivers hitting pedestrians are driving distracted or under the influence of alcohol and or drugs.

Kopelove said he advises drivers to follow the law, slow down, and stay alert.

However, he said pedestrians also have a part to play in helping to remain safe while utilizing the streets.

He encourages pedestrians to cross at the intersections, not wear dark clothing, walk in well-lit areas, and walk facing traffic.

Henrico Police also launched a campaign this past fall to help increase awareness that can lead to the prevention of accidents by giving out reflective vests to anyone as a way of staying more visible crossing the roads.

All three localities leaders are pumping money into improving infrastructure, with the hope it will help this problem.

“It’s a team effort not only amongst us but community members as well. It’s going to take the community,” said Kopelove.

This is a developing story, so anyone with more information can email to send a tip.

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