MSU President speaks out about accident with student

By Lee Peck - bio | email

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - The President of McNeese State University is speaking out about the accident involving a 19-year-old student who was struck by a motorist while crossing McNeese Street.

"I think of our students like my children and when an incident like this happens it is something that haunts me daily," said McNeese President Dr. Philip Williams.

While campus police enforce the no jaywalking law, Dr. Williams says the university is actively working on both long term and short term solutions, which include more signage and crosswalks with lights. There's even been talk of a shuttle bus.

"I think ultimately the long term solution is a parking garage, but for right now with the budget constraints the way they are that does look like it is a ways in the future," said Williams.

McNeese freshman Steven Chambers says it can't come soon enough. "It's dangerous I'm telling you. People are getting hurt out there. It happened yesterday," said Chambers.

Chambers says he was nearly hit Tuesday in the same intersection while riding his bike.

"If it hadn't been for vigilant drivers this time in the day more than in the morning - I would have been hurt bad. I probably would have been out on that pavement needing a helicopter," said Chambers.

For others, Monday's accident was a reminder this isn't the first time it has happened.

"It was right here," - Brandon Fontenot recalls the day he hit a fellow student four years ago.

"I didn't even know I had hit anyone until I saw someone laying there," explained Fontenot.

Fontenot says it can happen to anyone and says if it were up to him - students would be taken out of crosswalk equation all together.

"I don't know how much they are or what but a sky bridge would be perfect," said Fontenot.

For now Dr. Williams urges drivers and pedestrians to exercise extreme caution.

"I think all of us can do a better job of being aware of each other, especially around the university and thinking of it as a school zone," said Dr. Williams.

Dr. Williams says making any adjustments in terms of crosswalks, signage or lights will be up to the city or state depending on the road. He adds they've been very cooperative in discussions to make things safer.

Copyright 2009 KPLC. All rights reserved.