Pedestrian injuries and deaths are some of the most devastating, primarily because people on foot are much more vulnerable than those in vehicles. But a pedestrian accident can be even more difficult to grasp if the driver involved is someone who is supposed to protect civilians – someone like a police officer.
That was the case on the New Jersey Turnpike last Wednesday, when a police officer driving a patrol car struck two pedestrians who both died after the accident.
According to a New Jersey State Police statement, the two victims were Jason Champion, 41, and Nuwnah Laroche, 34, both from New York. They were travelling on the turnpike in a 2001 Cadillac Escalade when it broke down on the southbound side. The two got out of their car and as they were walking in the left lane of the roadway at around 1:06 a.m., a Washington Township patrol car struck them. They were declared dead at the scene at 4:33 a.m.
The driver of the police car was Police Officer Arsenio Pecora, 46. The Washington Township Police Department of Bergen County said that when the accident occurred, Pecora was traveling back from training at Fort Dix.
The New Jersey State Police Crime Scene Investigation Unit, Fatal Accident Unit, and Newark Station personnel are investigating the crash. However, state police told the media that the two victims were inside the roadway’s lane marker when the police car hit them.
While this and other aspects of the accident are still under investigation, pedestrians are again reminded to exercise utmost caution anywhere near roadways. Motorists, even those who are not reckless, often look out more for other vehicles than for people on foot.
When a pedestrian gets hit, the outcome is usually tragic, including serious, life-altering injuries and fatalities. Even worse, this happens more frequently than we may think: government data show that traffic crashes killed 4,743 pedestrians and injured another 76,000 in 2012 alone. That’s one pedestrian death every two hours, and one pedestrian injury every seven minutes.