It is from this dead-end sidewalk that I constantly pick up my daughters after they play in South Capitol Park.
While I look for our way to get home safely, kids run amok on this narrow sidewalk, some with too little wear and tear for the weather, some caught up in play, some trying to sell me a lemonade.
Last week, a little girl pulled up next to me in a tiny red “girl scout.” She had fashioned a cardboard box out of empty plastic wrap, hung some black plastic banners from its top, and had donned a hard black helmet with the words “Pedestrian Safety” on it. The box had the words “For Denton” written on the front, indicating it was for her family’s protection.
It didn’t seem too great for children to use as a makeshift barrier, but the kids generally take their safety seriously, to protect them from acts of human endangerment. I learned that block parties had been held up to several months before the girl’s attempt, along with the message that the city needed to protect its residents from “walking hazards” so that the sidewalks were for pedestrians and not for cars and trucks to run over or break off.
The box was nice, but it wasn’t much help. The sounds of kids playing and excited laughter seemed to distract her.
As I stood and watched the little girl search for her way home, I didn’t find her gathering enough momentum to move toward the street. As soon as I took a step to look, she was at my feet. She said: “Put on a seat belt!” With that, she fell to the ground. She was crying, which broke my heart. She was already injured.
My heart couldn’t help thinking, “So what? You kids just learned this the hard way. Now the city needs to fix the sidewalk!”
But the sidewalk was already fixed. A few bollards were already added for pedestrians. But city officials need to be aware that the city had posted signs everywhere, at all the major stops along the route, saying the sidewalks were for pedestrians and not for cars to run over or break off.
By the time the little girl fell, the bollards had already been removed. The little girl’s body landed on the box. It looked hard, but clear. The box was only small, only measuring about 4.5 inches high. It probably held in place enough that her skull wasn’t crushed. That is good. The girl wasn’t completely crushed.
Peculiarly, though, her head was still connected to her body. Phew.
I imagine her pelvis probably suffered the worst, however. She was unconscious and moving. She was bleeding profusely. She probably will need surgery for her head injuries.
You know, humans do strange things sometimes. The medical community is still trying to figure out what happened to this little girl. Obviously she was an important member of her family, and her parents probably didn’t want her to wind up in an emergency room.
I was upset, but frustrated. People in government can stand to do more to ensure the health and safety of their constituents.
What seems to get lost in the shuffle of policy is pedestrian safety. Let’s hold them accountable.