Boy, 7, hit by minivan in north Wichita

09/06/2012 5:30 PM

09/06/2012 5:34 PM

A 7-year-old boy was hit by a minivan as he tried to cross a busy street in north Wichita early Thursday morning, police said.

The boy, a student at Mueller Elementary, tried to cross 29th Street North near Shelton, which is just west of Arkansas, shortly before 8 a.m., Lt. Doug Nolte said. He walked into traffic, prompting a sedan to slow down, then went back to the north curb.

The sedan drove on, and the boy then darted out in front of a green minivan. The minivan began to slow as the boy retreated again to the curb.

Apparently thinking the vehicle was going to stop, the boy ran out into the street again and was struck, Nolte said.

Wichita school district officials said the boy was walking to his bus stop, which was near where the accident happened.

He was taken to Via Christi Hospital on St. Francis for treatment of injuries that are not life-threatening, Nolte said. The child’s injuries are minor, he said, because the minivan was slowing at the moment of impact.

Nolte said parents should work with their children to teach them when and where it’s acceptable to cross the street.

Though the student struck Thursday was not walking near Mueller, 2500 E. 18th, a Wichita woman who lives near that school said she’s concerned that too many young children cross busy streets without a crossing guard or other adult to help guide them.

Janet Green, who lives near 18th and Piatt in northeast Wichita, addressed the school board last week to request a crossing guard or other safety measures along portions of 21st Street, a major thoroughfare that dozens of Mueller students cross each day.

Green pointed to a Kansas Department of Transportation document which says that until age 9, children have limited peripheral vision – about two-thirds that of an adult – and have difficulty judging the speed or distance of approaching vehicles.

The report also says young children are “perpetual motion machines” – once they are in motion, it is difficult for them to stop or change direction – which is why they sometimes dart out into traffic.

“This is a concern of mine, because I don’t want anything to happen to someone’s child before we take notice,” Green said.

During the board’s discussion, Superintendent John Allison said he would direct his staff to study the walking paths for Mueller students to see if any qualified for busing under the district’s hazardous-route bus policy.

Last year, about 2,600 children who live within 21/2 miles of their assigned school received bus transportation because their walking routes forced them across busy intersections, railroad tracks or streets with fast-moving traffic and no walkway. District officials are in the midst of re-evaluating and possibly reducing the number of hazardous-route rides starting next fall.

Getting children safely to and from bus stops, however, remains the responsibility of parents and guardians.

“I’m just a concerned citizen, a block captain that’s involved in my neighborhood,” Green said Thursday. “Kids will ignore crosswalks and cross out in front of cars. That’s just what they do. … We all need to be more careful and concerned about their safety.”

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