Driver hits, kills pedestrian near accident-prone intersection

By Gianna Caserta - Reporter, Kelci Johnston - News Producer

HOUSTON - A driver hit and killed a pedestrian who was walking across the street Saturday morning, Houston police said.

The accident happened around 5:55 a.m. near Bellaire and Gessner. Police said the victim was attempting to cross Bellaire when the driver hit him and sped off.

The 40-year-old man died at the scene.

Investigators said they are checking evidence and surveillance video to track down the driver responsible.

Police told Local 2 there have been two other deadly auto-pedestrian accidents along the same stretch of Bellaire.  Police said each of those accidents happened when someone tried to cross the street in the middle of the construction zone.

Residents said the problem is that the area is not well lit, especially at night.

"Lights are dim out here," said Duvon Jean, who lives in the area.  "You really can't see out here when it is nighttime.  They need to brighten the lights to make everything brighter out here."

One of the main problems Bellaire is that 55 street lights were removed from the other side of the street, so pedestrians trying to cross are not being seen by drivers.

"I would cross the street and it was very dangerous," said Sasha Rodriguez, who works nearby. "Pedestrians have the right of way, but they (drivers) would just go through, wouldn't wait for you or just honk for you to go."

Rodriguez used to take the bus to get to work and said she would run across the street in fear that she would be hit.

"It gets backed up and they get frustrated and try to do shortcuts and that is when it all breaks loose," said Rodriguez.

Fifty-five street lights were removed for a road improvement project. There has already been two other deadly auto pedestrian accidents along the section of Bellaire Boulevard. In all of the accidents, the pedestrians were attempting to cross the street in the middle of the construction when they were hit.

"At night it is so dark, you don't see it unless the light is shining through it," said Rodriguez.

The speed limit along the problematic section is 35 miles per hour. Officers are urging people to use designated cross walks to cross the street.

There are signs directing people where to safely cross, but the problem is when it is dark, people cant read them.

"If you try to go straight where you're supposed to go, it's too close to the cars. It's very dangerous," said pedestrian Jose Ruiz.

Officers will be looking at video surveillance and other evidence to find the hit-and-run driver. Police said the wanted vehicle is likely a Honda Accord with a white front bumper.

Anyone with information in this case is asked to call the HPD Hit and Run Unit at 713-247-4065 or Crime Stoppers at 713-222-TIPS.

The construction in the area is expected to be completed by October.

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