MSU Police cracking down on jaywalkers

By Lee Peck - bio | email

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - A dozen long stemmed roses lay on the sidewalk of McNeese Street in remembrance of 19-year-old Ashlea Richard, the MSU freshman died from injuries sustained Monday after being hit by a car while trying to cross the street to get to class.

As word spread across campus of Richard's death more students are using the crosswalks to avoid getting a ticket for jaywalking.

"It's very sad because I had a class with her," said Amanda Ogea, MSU Freshman.

Ogea says she would prefer to jaywalk further down because she feels it's safer than the crosswalks at the busy intersection of McNeese Street and Common Street.

"I don't know about you but I don't want to walk through that," said Ogea. "It's pretty much like you don't know where everybody is coming out so you just hope for the best. But there's no room for error. You have people turning on turn signals in front of students. It's dangerous."

However she like most students can't afford to jaywalk as campus police are aggressively handing out tickets to those who don't use the crosswalks. Wednesday yellow warning signs were also placed near the edge of the parking lot encouraging pedestrians to use the crosswalks.

"The reason we are doing this is because we don't want this to happen to anyone else. We want them to be safe and that is the way we can do that right now is to urge them to use that crosswalk," explained MSU Police Chief Cinnamon Salvador.

As if Monday's accident wasn't enough to remind of the dangers - students are still torn over whether a warning is in order before the ticket.

"I didn't know the cops were there. When I saw some McNeese students crossing the road and they were getting tickets. One guy said he got a $170 ticket for first offense," said Sarah Foux, MSU Sophomore.

"I think they do need a warning, but then again how do you keep track of warnings to all of these students. I think they need to put crossing lights where you press and the lights and they light up on the ground like the crosswalks on Ryan Street," said Chris Brandow, MSU Sophomore.

That is one of the short term options being discussed. Until a solution can be found - drivers and students must pay close attention to prevent another tragedy.

Chief Salvador says they will continue to enforce the jaywalking law during school hours.

Meanwhile at this time the accident remains under investigation. You'll remember the driver involved voluntarily submitted to an alcohol test. Again, Lake Charles Police investigators don't suspect alcohol or drug impairment. However, standard toxicology tests were performed. The results are still pending.

Copyright 2009 KPLC. All rights reserved.