As many parents were on their way to pick up their children from Cherokee Elementary School Wednesday, a car struck a student just a half-mile from the school at around 4 p.m.
The female student was on her bicycle crossing from the south side of Kyles Station Road to Aspen Trails Boulevard when an Acura SUV hit her, according to Ohio Highway Patrol Sgt. Brian Bost.
The incident took place only one-tenth of a mile before the school zone starts.
The speed limit on Kyles Station in the Cherokee Elementary school zone is 45 mph during non-school hours and 20 mph when school is in session. According to Bost and the driver, the car was traveling at 30 mph when it struck the girl.
While the investigation is still ongoing, it doesn’t appear that charges will be filed against the driver. The lone witness at the scene told Bost that “there wasn’t anything that could have been done” and that “the girl just darted out in front of the car.”
Furthermore, after the incident took place, Bost said the girl admitted that she wasn’t sure if she checked that side of the street before crossing.
Bost also described the girl to be coherent and was sitting up after the being hit. Bost later went to the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center Liberty Campus to visit the student and was “almost positive” that she would be released that night.
On Thursday, Cherokee Elementary School principal Paulette Grady confirmed in an email sent out to parents that the injuries to the student were not serious.
“The safety of our Cherokee Cheetahs is our number one priority. Together, we can ensure their safety by frequently reminding our children, to walk, ride their bikes, or scooters directly home after school, always to look both ways before crossing the street, and to be mindful of their surroundings. Our diligence and daily safety reminders are very important. Our students do hear us. Even though we take every precaution, accidents do happen.
Yesterday, one of our students was struck by a car. This accident occurred as many parents were on their way to Cherokee to pick up their children. We have been advised that the injuries to this student were not serious. The Cherokee staff and parents came together to assist in any way they could.
I would like to thank all of our families for following our safety procedures at arrival and dismissal. Our Cherokee community is awesome in every way.”
After Lakota cut busing back to state minimum levels, Cherokee parents complained at the start of the 2011-2012 school year about the safety of students without the aid of a crosswalk or crossing guards.
Prior to this school year, a roundabout was added at the intersection of Kyles Station Road and LeSourdsville-West Chester Road. The roundabout is just east of the school and features a crosswalk.
However, there isn’t a sidewalk on the north side of Kyles Station Road for students to walk or ride on after they cross the street at the roundabout.
According to Lakota’s executive director of business operations Chris Passarge, the construction of a sidewalk on the north side of the street has been approved through the Safe Routes to School grant program.
That project is not expected to begin until the summer of 2013. Once that sidewalk is in place, all students will be directed to cross Kyles Station at the roundabout.
Currently, without a sidewalk on that side of Kyles Station, the student struck by a car Wednesday rode her bike on the sidewalk on the south side of the street before trying to cross to the north side.
In addition to the future sidewalk at Cherokee, there are two other sidewalk projects by Lakota schools in the process of being completed by Thanksgiving. Those sidewalks are around Freedom Elementary and Lakota Ridge Junior schools. Cherokee and Heritage Elementary are the next two scheduled to receive sidewalks.
Other schools identified by Passarge in need of improvements include Woodland, Adena, and Hopewell elementary schools, as well as Liberty and Hopewell junior schools.
“Lakota is trying to work with the surrounding communities to improve the safety of students going to and from school by either bike or walking. We are doing this by applying for grants through the Safe Routes to School program to provide infrastructure,” Passarge said.
“We are also working with parents on safety … because it is ultimately the parents responsibility to get their child to and from school when transportation is not provided by the district.”
This is the second incident reported by the media since busing was cut involving a person being hit by a car at or near Cherokee.
In September of 2011, Cherokee’s music teacher Darryl Berry was hit by a car while directing morning traffic. After being struck, Berry was treated at the scene by Liberty Township Squad members and did not require to be transported to the hospital.
The driver Craig Schmidt, 41, of Liberty Township drove off after striking the teacher with his car. Witnesses, however, were able to provide an accurate description of the vehicle to Butler County deputies.
Schmidt was later stopped near the intersection of State Route 747 and Hamilton-Mason Road, which is about four miles south of the school. He was later charged with reckless operation and negligent assault.