I-Team: U.S. Postal workers plead for safety improvements on a 'dangerous' crosswalk at TIA

Worker nearly killed in crosswalk

Postal workers are pleading for more safety measures at what they call a dangerous crosswalk.

Union leaders say new construction at Tampa's airport is only making it worse.

Postal worker Cassandra Carter was walking through this crosswalk to work at the Post Office at Tampa International Airport. After a woman ran a red light, she was hit by a car, dragged 68 feet, and nearly died.

"They didn't expect me to survive on scene so when I did everyone was surprised", Carter recalls.

She says she broke several bones, lost her teeth, lost her kidney and part of her colon, she has a permanent rod in her leg, has trouble raising her arm, and uses a cane to walk.

Carter says, "I get very emotional I wake up at night sometimes thinking about it."

"It's just an unsafe crossing and somebody else is going to get hurt here", says Postal Workers Union President Mike Searle.

Searle says he's been fighting to get added safety measures put in place. Every day he says about a thousand employees use this crosswalk to get to work.

"We've seen other people be hit. Not to the magnitude of ms carter but we've seen it happen", says the union's Vice President Don Barron.

Barron tells us after airport construction wraps up, all of the traffic from the new people mover, the rental car parking garage, and cell lot will all have to pass though an already busy, dangerous crosswalk.

"This is going to be a not if but when.  It's going to happen there's going to be another accident here and there's a simple solution", Barron says.

Union reps have asked the Airport Authority for a pedestrian overpass bridge to keep workers off the road.

Searle says they were denied, "They did take a month to look into it and they got back to us and said no they had no interest in putting it in, it wasn't in their budget, it wasn't in their plans."

Al Illustrato is Vice President of Facilities and Administration at Tampa International Airport. He says post office management made that decision.

"We put that on the table as an option for the post office to consider  and they did not want to go with the overpass.  We put 5 options on the table" Illustrato adds.

Post Office Executives tell us they didn't want the pedestrian overpass because once they build ramps for handicap access it would lengthen the walk for workers by one-third of a mile. Instead they are opting to add stamped concrete, lower signal lights, and additional lighting. Not enough for the union's leaders...they still want an overpass.

"We're gonna have another problem. How many people have to get nearly killed before they decide they need to do something?" Searle questions.

Carter hopes administrators reconsider.

"If they don't care that this happened to me what is that saying? It's like you're putting everybody's lives in danger" she says.

 On a side note, Airport Police had video of Ms. Carters accident but when we requested it, we're told they destroyed it. Because of this, Airport Police are now undergoing training on evidence and public record retention rules.

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Jarrod Holbrook is an Emmy and AP Award-winning Investigative Reporter for the ABC Action News I-Team.

Do you have a story idea? Contact Jarrod on Facebook, Twitter, or via email at jarrod.holbrook@wfts.com.

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