Recent Death Spotlights Pedestrian Issues in Albemarle County

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A Lexington woman has died after being hit by a van earlier this week in Albemarle County.  Now police are looking at issues with pedestrian safety in the county.

Dolores Kostelni, 75, passed away Thursday night. She was being treated at the University of Virginia Medical Center after the accident, which happened shortly after 3 p.m. on Tuesday at the intersection of Putt-Putt Place and East Rio Road.

The driver of the van, Wayne David Craft, has been charged with failure to yield to a pedestrian.

This marks the first fatal pedestrian accident of the year in Albemarle County.  And while that number is holding steady compared to other years, the number of people simply injured in pedestrian accidents is increasing.

According to Albemarle police, distractions such as people on their cellphones and people not paying attention are the primary reasons for the increase.

In Albemarle County, the number of pedestrians injured in an accident has fluctuated in recent years; 13 have been hit this year alone.  In Charlottesville, that number stands at 35.

Along Route 29 in Albemarle, the crosswalks are few and far between. Police say the massive road was meant for traffic and not people.

Carter Johnson, Albemarle County Police Department spokeswoman, said, "It's always best to cross at a crosswalk, but if there's not a crosswalk available then try to cross at an intersection because a pedestrian has more right of way at an intersection."

Across the state, more than 1,700 pedestrians were hurt last year, up about 200 people from 2010. And while pedestrians do have the right of way in Virginia, the responsibility really falls on both the person crossing and the driver.

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