The identities of the victim and driver involved in a pedestrian fatality Tuesday night on N.C. 89 near Beasley Street have been released by the Mount Airy Police Department.
Officials identified the victim as James Hubert Barnes, 47 of Mount Airy. The department release indicated Barnes suffered fatal injuries as a result of the collision and was pronounced dead at the scene by Surry County Emergency Services Director John Shelton.
Information from the department sets the time officers responded to the motor vehicle collision at about 6:17 p.m. According to Mount Airy Police Department Lt. Barry Vanhoy, upon arrival officers determined Barnes had been struck by a 1998 Plymouth Voyager van traveling east on N.C. 89. Officials said the vehicle was owned and operated by Angel Gwyn, 35, of Mount Airy.
The motor vehicle collision remains under investigation with Senior Police Officer Ryan Bennett conducting a reconstruction of the incident. According to Bennett, once the investigation is completed, the results will be sent to the District Attorney, who will then decide if any charges will be filed in connection with the incident.
The Mount Airy Fire Department, Surry County Emergency Medical Services and the Mount Airy Rescue Squad assisted with the collision.
This was the second such pedestrian fatality within six months in Mount Airy. In August, Jeffery Wayne Puckett, 39, was identified by officials as a victim in another pedestrian collision on Rockford Street near the Cook-Out restaurant at 12:35 a.m. Puckett’s son was reported injured in connection with that incident.
Pedestrians, motorists take safety precautions
Shelton would not comment specifically on either fatal incident but in general believes a major factor in other accidents in the region is there are more pedestrians, bicycles and motorists than in previous years.
“The one big thing I’ve noticed in our area is the numbers of people walking on the roadway who are not wearing clothing that lets them be visibly noticed well,” said Shelton. He said more persons walking need to follow the example of frequent pedestrians and wear light-colored clothing or a reflective vest or jacket. He also suggested pedestrians find alternative routes with less traffic whenever possible.
“In the routes where motor vehicles are traveling 45 miles per hour or faster, there’s not a lot of time for motorists to react,” added Shelton. “If you use the roadside, you will quickly notice there is not a lot of room for vehicles to move. If you can, don’t be out at night. Do that walking at a different time when traffic is lighter. There is just so much traffic out there compared to years ago.”
Shelton said another factor in pedestrian accidents can be motorists are not as attentive as they could be for a variety of reasons. He said Surry County continues to have a large number of accidents involving animals in the road with deer-related accidents prominent, in spite of reduced numbers from hemorrhagic fever.
“Overall, drivers need to be more cautious of what’s in the roadway at night and in daytime,” said Shelton. “You can sit at any intersection and quickly see a majority of people in vehicles who are texting or on a cell phone. This is a part of the issue. We have lots of local accidents due to cell phone or texting distractions.”
Mount Airy Police Department Public Informations Officer Lt. Kelly Hiatt reminded pedestrians to always wear light-colored clothing and recommended using reflective clothing if walking along roadsides frequently.
“Those walking should always face traffic and use the traffic lights at intersections that stop vehicles as an additional safeguard,” added Hiatt. “People on bicycles or walking should take the extra time to make sure what’s coming. Give yourself plenty of time. It’s hard sometimes to judge vehicles moving at the speed limit, much less those traveling faster.”
Hiatt said pedestrians also should take into account visibility from not only weather, but geography. Crossing a road in a curve or on a hill that could hide someone from a car is dangerous. He said that changes in the size of the road also can affect timing. Generally speaking, it takes longer to cross five wide lanes than two narrow ones.
“Motorists should always try to watch out as well,” continued Hiatt. “Pedestrians on the side of the road that may appear to be waiting may step out. Keep a constant eye on them.”
Reach David Broyles at firstname.lastname@example.org or 718-1952.