Pedestrian killed in Brattleboro hit-and-run
BRATTLEBORO -- Western Avenue was the scene of another fatal pedestrian crash Friday night.
Eugene Narratt, 64, of Maynard, Mass., died Friday at Brattleboro Memorial Hospital after being struck by a vehicle in the vicinity of Western Avenue and Union Street, according to the Brattleboro Police Department.
The crash is being investigated as a hit and run.
The police were called to the scene just after 7 p.m. for a report of a pedestrian-vehicle crash.
The victim was treated at the scene and then taken to Brattleboro Memorial Hospital where he later died from his injuries.
Police say the vehicle left the scene of the crash and the police were investigating the event this weekend.
Narratt is the third pedestrian in the last two years to die after being struck by a vehicle while walking along Western Avenue.
Susan Press, 68, was struck farther up Western Avenue on Dec. 10, 2011 and Bernard Crosby, 82, was hit by a car near the Citizens Bridge on Feb. 27, 2012.
Press and Crosby both died from the injuries they sustained in the crashes.
On Feb. 23, 2012 Gary Lumbra, 64, was hit by a car on Canal Street, and he later died, making the latest pedestrian death the fourth in Brattleboro in about two years.
The road conditions were poor Friday night, with a slick, icy rain falling and some fog making driving conditions challenging.
The Brattleboro Selectboard and the Traffic Safety Committee have been working on pedestrian safety issues since the first crash, and the town has taken a number of steps to encourage drivers and pedestrians to be more aware.
The Selectboard recently approved a Traffic Calming Plan, and the town has been distributing reflective bands for pedestrians to wear.
The town also is working with Local Motion, a Burlington-based group that promotes bicycle and pedestrian safety.
And extra money was put in to this year's budget to allow the Department of Public Works to paint the crosswalks in town a second time during the year.
"The town has taken, is taking, and will continue to take steps to make the streets as safe as possible for motorists and pedestrians," said Selectboard Chairman David Gartenstein, who is also a member of the Traffic Safety Committee. "There has been a comprehensive response by the town to address the traffic safety issue and we are going to keep working on it."
Gartenstein said the Traffic Safety Committee has been concentrating on particularly dangerous intersections, such as the one at the top of Union Hill.
The committee did an inventory of the street lights at dangerous crosswalks and Gartenstein said the lights were working in the area Friday night near the scene of the crash.
The Selectboard wants to include extra money in the proposed fiscal 2015 budget to fund the ongoing traffic safety issue, though Gartenstein says education might be the most important step the board can take to make the streets safer.
"Motorists and pedestrians play a core role at all times to make sure the streets are safe," Gartenstein said. "This was a terrible tragedy and our condolences go out to the family of the victim."
The town also has taken on a number of larger scale roadway projects to encourage motorists to slow down, and Department of Public Works Director Steve Barrett said the very area where Narratt was killed Friday is slated for a traffic calming project.
Brattleboro won a $70,000 Local Facilities Grant from the Vermont Agency of Transportation for safety improvements near Union Hill and Western Avenue.
Barrett says the town wants to extend the curb on either side of Western Avenue to shorten the distance pedestrians have to cover when crossing the street.
Barrett says the narrowing of the roadway could act as a calming measure to get motorists to slow down and it also will prevent motorists from trying to get around traffic when it is backed up.
The Public Works Department recently sent out requests for proposal for the project, though Barrett said it could be another year, or two, before the work is completed.
The Union Hill project has been on the books for more than eight years.
The town is also doing a separate project farther west on Western Avenue near Academy School.
That is a larger project and covers about a mile of the road.
The town is doing a study to see what approaches might be reasonable to get drivers to slow down while going through West Brattleboro.
"The town has done a lot of things to publicize safety, and there have been a lot of efforts to make things better," Barrett said. "This is the third accident on Western Avenue. It's not good. It's a tragedy what happened."
Anyone with information on Friday night's crash should call Lt. Mike Carrier at the police department at 802-257-7950 or the TIPSLINE at 802-251-8188.
Howard Weiss-Tisman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org; or 802-254-2311, ext. 279. You can follow Howard on Twitter @HowardReformer.
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