Houston police issue warning after increase in pedestrian deaths

HOUSTON - A proliferation of pedestrian deaths across the city of Houston is prompting law enforcement officials to issue a warning to pedestrians to be extra cautious, especially at night.

The warning comes after the death of a third pedestrian in a five-block stretch on Bellaire Boulevard in the past month and a rise in pedestrian deaths citywide so far this year. Police say 15 of the 44 traffic fatality victims this year have been pedestrians compared with seven pedestrians killed at the same time last year among the 30 fatalities reported.

"The reason why we are taking this so seriously is because this is a problem and we recognize it is a problem. We want to avoid any future deaths or injuries," said Captain James Dale of the HPD Midwest Patrol Division.

Dale also said officers would be patrolling the area to issue warnings and citations to speeding drivers and people who are jaywalking.

The latest fatality involving a pedestrian happened at around 5:55 a.m. Saturday in the 8700 block of Bellaire Boulevard in a construction area.  The male pedestrian, 40, was at fault and tried to cross the street not at a crosswalk. However, the driver of the striking vehicle did not stop and fled the scene.

In addition to last Saturday's fatal accident, two other deadly wrecks have occurred on Bellaire Boulevard this year. The first was about 9:55 a.m. on Jan. 15 in the 9200 block of Bellaire involving the death of a male pedestrian, 79.  The motorist stopped to render aid and found not to be at-fault in the accident.

The second deadly accident was a hit-and-run of a male pedestrian, 28, that happened at around 4:45 a.m. on Feb. 9. The driver fled the scene. Debris at the scene indicated the striking vehicle might have been a Toyota.

HPD urges pedestrians to follow common sense safety tips to avoid becoming victims of traffic accidents:

•Do not walk across the street unless you are at a crosswalk.
•Take the extra minute or two to walk to a crosswalk.
•Obey traffic signals of Walk / Don't Walk.
•Look before you step.
•Do not assume vehicles will stop.  Make eye contact with a driver; don't just look at a vehicle.
•Dress to be seen.  Wear light colored clothing if walking at night and carry a flashlight, if possible.
•Do not wear headphones or talk on a cell phone while walking across the street.
•Be especially careful in construction zones.

Motorists are reminded to be cautious when driving on busy roadways and to be on the lookout for pedestrians.  Any motorist who strikes a pedestrian must stop and render aid or else face a felony charge for leaving the scene.

Anyone with information on suspects in these or any hit-and-run accident in the city is urged to contact the HPD Hit and Run Unit at 713-247-4065 or Crime Stoppers at 713-222-TIPS.

Copyright 2014 by Click2Houston.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.