Pinellas residents continue to plead for crosswalk following another pedestrian death

Posted at 4:47 PM, Aug 24, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-24 18:16:26-04

People in one Pinellas County neighborhood are pushing to get a crosswalk installed after yet another person was hit and killed crossing in an area without a crosswalk.

Neighbors say a homeless veteran died crossing Roosevelt and was not in a crosswalk on Tuesday. Reports show the man had been drinking.

However, people living in the area say there are few safe options for them to safely cross the street no matter what, as the nearest crosswalk is several hundred feet away.

Brett Baskin said the man killed last night was his best friend. He said he went into the shopping center and when he came back out, his friend was dead. He said he couldn't bear to look at the body.

"That was my friend," Baskin said. "I didn't want to see that."

For him, the pain and shock remains fresh.

"I cannot talk to him no more, okay?" he said "I can't. Because he's gone."

Neighbors say people rarely safely and legally cross the street at Roosevelt and Morgan street in Pinellas County because they are very far from a crosswalk. Many said they have no choice but to walk to a nearby shopping center for groceries and other basics.

"There are no crosswalks right here," said Wesley Mertz, who lives in the area and saw Tuesday's crash. "I mean what, you have to walk a quarter mile?"

There's several crosses in the area marking where people have died trying to cross the road.

After the last pedestrian death in nearly the same spot in May, the Florida Department of Transportation came out to assess the situation and said they didn't see enough danger to warrant a crosswalk.

FDOT now says a full study will be completed sometime in October as a Road Safety Audit along the corridor in conjunction with the Pinellas County Community Traffic Safety Team.

The safety audit will involve stakeholders from around the community including local traffic engineers and law enforcement, to conduct a comprehensive safety review of the corridor.

FDOT said they will also conduct WalkWise business sweeps and on-street education along the corridor to educate the community and to gather their perspectives.

They said some of the accidents have involved people drinking and crossing the road. They said they want to make sure if any crosswalk is installed that it will be used.

The friends of this latest victim hope this will be enough to prove how dangerous the intersection can be and how hard it is for many people to cross safely.

"Do something about it," Baskin said.

If not, they said they fear more people could die the same way.

ABC Action News is not releasing the name of the victim as Florida Highway Patrol has not notified all family members yet.
So far, no charges have been filed against the driver who hit the pedestrian, FHP said.