Robert Cantu

Ruben Cantu

A very tragic accident took the life of a Del Rio woman last week. Sara Rosalaz de Nava, 85, known as Sarita De Nava by those close to her, was walking from Las Vacas Street to the Val Verde Community Center.

She was a regular at the center, they say, where she would pickup her food bag on a regular basis. She was crossing Spur 239 near the Farley Lane intersection, when she was struck by a car passing by.

The accident happened at approximately 5:30 a.m., on a dark road where there are no sidewalks and the speed limit is 45 miles per hour.

It was a very unfortunate accident and our deepest condolences go out to the family of this wonderful woman, who was brave enough to make the almost 1 mile walk on Farley Lane all the way to the community center on her own.

Could this accident have been prevented? I don’t know, and we probably never will, but I have always been a proponent of learning from our past experience.

We, as a community, should be learning from this incident by asking ourselves why she was walking on the street at that time in the morning, and if there is anything we could have done to help not only her, but others like her.

This accident occurred in the middle of the roadway, as she was crossing the road, but one of the things that immediately pops out for people new to Del Rio is the lack of sidewalks throughout the city. This forces pedestrians almost everywhere to dangerously share the road with vehicles passing by, including children, elderly, students, etc.

Nobody is more vulnerable than pedestrians walking in urban areas – and this also extends to cyclists and bikers as well – but according to the National Safety Council we rarely are more vulnerable than when walking across busy streets and negotiating traffic.

Nearly 6,000 pedestrians were struck and killed by motor vehicles in 2017, with an estimated 7,450 pedestrian deaths (traffic and non-traffic) according to Injury Facts.

In 2017, more than 16 percent of all traffic deaths were pedestrians. Every age group is vulnerable, but in the 10-14 category and 50-69 chances of a pedestrian to get killed during a crash are 20 percent higher.

Some of the recommendations by the National Safety Council include to walk on sidewalks when possible, to walk facing traffic, follow the rules of the road, obey all traffic signs and signals, to cross streets at crosswalks and if there is no crosswalk available and the view is blocked, move to a place where you can see oncoming traffic.

The council also recommends to look left, right and left again before crossing the street, making eye contact with drivers of oncoming vehicles to make sure they see you.

Other recommendations include to stay alert – avoid cell phone use and wearing earbuds, always avoid alcohol and drug impairment when walking, wear bright and/or reflective clothing, and use a flashlight at night, watch for cars entering or exiting driveways or backing up in parking lots, children younger than 10 should cross the street with an adult, per the council.

Pedestrian safety is a shared responsibility, texting and driving or even just being on the phone is not safe. Driving a motor vehicle is a serious responsibility and requires all your attention, pay attention to what you are doing.

If your message or your call is so important, do yourself and others a favor by pulling over, being a little late is better than not getting there at all.

And finally, use common sense. The best safety is the one between your ears.

The day after the Spur 239 accident a good friend was driving on U.S. Highway 90, and saw an older woman walking on the side of the road. He immediately thought of what had happened the day before, and didn’t hesitate to turn back to give the woman a ride.

He took her to the Joe Ramos Center, where she was going to, and they talked about the accident. Hopefully their brief chat made the woman aware of the hazards of walking on the side of the road.

Things happen for a reason, most of the time beyond our understanding, so let’s all learn from the tragic incident and honor the memory of this brave woman by preventing more accidents like hers.

Rubén Cantú has been a journalist since 1995. He is the managing editor of the Del Rio News-Herald.

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