For the third time in a week, a pedestrian has been struck by a car on Indiana University’s campus. Campus police say it’s a hard problem to control, but other campus leaders say fewer building projects may be a start.
21-year old Indiana University student Kexin Xiang was injured Friday as she attempted to cross 10th St. near the Herman Wells library around 8 a.m. IU Police Lt. Craig Munroe said Xiang was hospitalized, but her injuries were not life-threatening. Munroe says the driver of the car, 21-year old Thomas Larison, was administered a breathalyzer test after officers smelled alcohol, but registered below the legal limit of .08. Munroe said Larison told police he did not see Xiang trying to cross the street after being temporarily blinded by the early morning sun.
Xiang becomes the third pedestrian hit by a car on campus this week. A fatal incident Wednesday took the life of sophomore Peter Duong, who was killed by a car driven by a fellow sophomore with a suspended driver’s license. Munroe said that evening, a pizza delivery driver was distracted by news media covering Duong’s death and struck a pedestrian as he attempted to pull onto Fee Ln. The pedestrian in that incident was not seriously injured. Munroe said his department is soon to have three more officers, but is currently understaffed and hard-pressed to monitor the foot traffic created by the rising number of undergraduates on the Bloomington campus.
“We keep very busy and our numbers are down as low as they can go,” Munroe said. “Could we use more officers? It would be helpful. But could we stop people from not using the crosswalks or catch every speeder? The answer to that is probably no.”
IU Associate Dean of Students Carol McCord says school officials have been talking with Bloomington’s Department of Public Works — which oversees the roadways through campus — in an effort to make the campus safer for walkers. But she says the rapid expansion of the campus — from its student body to its infrastructure — has pushed some of those discussions to the back burner.
“Those conversations and discussions will be continued and I think this of course does add a note of urgency to decision-making,” McCord said. “We’ve been a little bit thwarted by building and construction projects, so right now the construction project on Jordan [Ave.] and previous construction project in the Fee Lane area have kind of thwarted making a change as quickly as some of the considerations would have called for.”
McCord says the incidents highlight the need for discussions on campus of how student safety is affected by class schedules, living arrangements and other concerns. Both McCord and Munroe say the easiest fix requires only additional patience and concentration on the part of both pedestrians and drivers.