2 fatal hit-skips at Euclid Avenue intersection spur call for new safety measures

Surveillance picture of sedan police are looking for in connection to Crutcher's death. (Source: Euclid Police Department)
Surveillance picture of sedan police are looking for in connection to Crutcher's death. (Source: Euclid Police Department)

SOUTH EUCLID, OH (WOIO) - One concerned resident has petitioned for a stop light to be placed on Euclid Avenue, near where a 60-year-old woman was killed in a hit-skip Saturday evening.

Vernice Crutcher was hit and killed while walking in Euclid Avenue near Grand Boulevard at about 5:30 p.m. Saturday. Police are still looking for the person who hit her, and have released a photo of a possible suspect car -- a light-colored sedan -- that may have been involved.

Pearletha Taylor, a Euclid resident for nearly 40 years, told Cleveland 19 she thinks the stretch of Euclid Avenue, from E. 196th through Grand Boulevard, is dangerous. Taylor said she asked that an additional traffic light be installed about 10 years ago.

"I think if they had a red light, or even just a crosswalk, I think a lot of death may have been prevented," said Taylor.

She said there's too much of a distance between the crosswalks on the street, and she worries about people jaywalking to get the bus, or kids doing the same to catch the school bus.

"I did ask at one time was there any way we can have a crosswalk red light something to put there, either something go over the bridge like so the people have a pass-way because it is very dangerous," said Taylor.

In 2017, two people were hit and killed in about the same spot on Euclid Avenue in hit-skips, both were walking in the road at the time according to police.

Cleveland 19 asked police if that part of the roadway is particularly dangerous.

"I think the danger lies in the fact that it's so heavily traveled that it's a little higher speed than the side streets, that it's not exceptionally well lit, and you combine all those factors along with low light and it just so happens this year two people so far and we certainly hope no one else were struck and killed in the same area," said Euclid Police Lt. Mitch Houser.

Cleveland 19 reached out to the Ohio Department of Transportation to determine the volume and type of accidents that occur on Euclid Ave., from Grand Boulevard to E. 196th Street.

Since the beginning of 2017 to present, there have been 27 crashes in that spot. The majority of those, ODOT officials said, were property damage accidents. In two separate accidents people were seriously injured, and in two incidents people were killed. One of those was the hit-skip that killed Crutcher, the other was in almost the exact same spot, on February 3, 2017. In that incident, a royal blue Porsche Cayenne SUV with dark tinted windows hit and killed 35-year-old Morris T. Walker Jr. Police are still looking for information on that crime.

ODOT officials also provided Cleveland 19 the guidelines or warrants that the federal government and the state uses to determine if there should be a traffic signal or other traffic control device in a specific spot.

There are nine "warrants" that the Federal Highway Administration uses to determine if a traffic control device is needed.  They include things like the volume of traffic on the road in four or eight hours. For example a road the size of Euclid Avenue would need to have 600 cars per hour for eight hours of the day for that to be a consideration.

Other warrants include if there are school crossings nearby, or the number and severity of crashes.

Euclid Police told Cleveland 19 on Thursday that there are red lights and crosswalks in the area, and that the police department urges the public to use those crosswalks exclusively.

In both fatal hit-skip incidents both victims were walking in the road at the time of the incident.

Police and the state acknowledge that any person can request that a traffic study be performed on a specific stretch of road to determine if a traffic signal is needed.

If you have information on the hit skip that led to Vernice Crutcher's death, you're asked to call the Euclid Police Department at 215-731-1234.

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