On Tuesday evening, Sept. 25, two SUNY New Paltz students were struck by a vehicle while walking in a crosswalk in front of the campus.
According to New Paltz Rescue Squad (NPRS) Chief Matthew Goodnow, his EMS operators responded to the 911 call at 8:50 p.m. While in the crosswalk from Lot 28A to Lefevre Hall, Julianna Ferreira, 21, and Rachele Sanzano, 22, were hit by an oncoming car. The driver of the vehicle was Nicholas Prendys, 19, a resident of Highland, New York.
According to the police accident report filed by the New Paltz Police Department (NPPD), Prendys was driving northbound on State Route 32 South the evening of the accident. When he took his eyes away from the road to change his windshield wiper mode, he did not notice the two students crossing the street.
Almost immediately after the accident, NPPD Sgt. Patrick Koch arrived on the scene and administered care to the injured students. The students were then transported to a nearby hospital where they were treated for non-life-threatening injuries. As of Monday, Oct. 1, one of the students was released from the hospital, according to Interim SUNY New Paltz University Police Chief Mary Ritayik.
The New York State Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee claims an average of nearly 300 pedestrian deaths annually in New York. According to Section 1151 of NYS Vehicle & Traffic Law, “The driver of a vehicle emerging from or entering an alleyway, building, private road or driveway shall yield the right of way to any pedestrian approaching on any sidewalk extending across such alleyway, building entrance, road or driveway.”
Although the accident is still under investigation with the NPPD, Prendys was issued a ticket by the responding officer. NPRS Chief Goodnow offered safety advice for pedestrians crossing roads with heavy traffic.
“It’s important to make sure that you cross the street in a lighted area,” Goodnow said. “Also make sure that you are aware of your surrounding and not looking down at your phone.”
In a letter to the SUNY New Paltz community, Ritayik urged drivers and pedestrians alike to be safe and aware near crosswalks.
“I also write this [letter] to remind drivers to be aware at all times of pedestrians and high pedestrian areas like Rt. 32 South, Rt. 208 and Plattekill Ave,” Ritayik said. “Please be cognizant of that and slow down in these areas, limit distractions while driving and use a hands free device if you need to use your cellphone.”
The New Paltz Oracle was unable to reach any of the people involved in the accident in time for print.