SAN MATEO, Calif. -- Flashing pedestrian beacons did little to stop a driver from barreling through a California intersection. Dashcam footage shared with ABC7 News captured the shocking moment an SUV came within inches of a little girl.
Since the Sept. 14 incident, residents in the San Mateo neighborhood say they've reached out to city leaders to demand action.
Jison Hong's dashboard camera was rolling as she stopped to let a family cross the street. Seconds after the dad and his two young children enter the crosswalk, a dark SUV ripped the child's scooter from beneath her.
The vehicle was just a few inches and arrived only a few moments before what could've been an even more profound tragedy.
"If it had been, you know, a few seconds later she could've gotten seriously injured," Hong described. "Still, my heart kinda pounds every time I kinda think back to that moment."
The girl's father told our sister station KGO that his daughter is doing great. Though the family is understandably shaken.
We're also told the driver returned to the scene and spoke with police. San Mateo PD (SMPD) confirmed a report was taken and the department's traffic unit is investigating.
Hong and other residents explained the incident was just one example of the close calls that have happened at the intersection. Neighbors said they've alerted the city to similar issues over the last few years.
"We've been writing emails, we've been speaking at city council meetings," resident and nearby HOA president Max Partl said. "I think now, this video finally triggered some actual real action."
PD said they've responded by increasing area patrols.
Officer Alison Gilmore said, "We are monitoring the traffic in that area so that we can continue to be proactive and make sure that the area continues to be safe for the residents and pedestrians and other motorists."
City manager Drew Corbett released a statement, reacting to the harrowing video.
He told ABC7 News, "As a parent, it was especially hard to watch what happened and that preventable incident should never have occurred. Even though the flashing pedestrian beacons worked as designed, this inexperienced driver clearly failed to stop for the young child in the crosswalk."
"When something like this happens we have to ask why, and as a result we're taking immediate action to further improve safety at this intersection. Our Council prioritizes neighborhood traffic safety and in response to this incident we're increasing pedestrian visibility and reducing speeds in this area while we continue to look at longer term options that legally require more analysis," his statement continued. "We also need a community-wide approach to improve roadway safety and everyone, whether you're driving, biking or walking, plays a role in making sure we protect each other."
In terms of immediate improvements made by the city, Corbett explained:
- The City reduced speeds in the area by temporarily removing a lane in a section of Franklin Parkway
- We will be adding an additional pedestrian crossing beacon to improve visibility of pedestrians in this crosswalk
- The City is also increasing police presence in the area
Longer-term steps include:
- Last month the City recommitted to again look at whether all-way stop sign can be installed at the intersection. Per state vehicle code, we are conducting traffic studies that will help determine what type of safety improvements are allowed under the state code (such as stop signs, lane closures or speed reductions.)
- Citywide, continuing to collect and analyze data to inform traffic safety efforts including engineering improvements and increased enforcement. Currently preparing a Local Highway Safety Roadway Plan, which will help determine what types of improvements can best address specific traffic issues and community concerns throughout the city.
As the community pushes to keep their neighbors safe, many can't help but think about how much worse it could have been.
"I had made eye contact with the family that was about to cross the street," Hong said about the experience. "Kind of like, in slow motion, I kinda saw in the corner of my eye, this car kinda zooming past."
The girl's father shared this message with ABC7 News, "I'm very grateful to the community for their support and to city government for their quick action on this particular crosswalk but also hoping for lasting improvements to other crosswalks like this."