Thursday, January 29, 2009


I see this every time I go to work. I see people crossing the roads at all places, just daring you to hit them. They don't hurry. They take their sweet time. It is very dangerous especially when it is dark and they are wearing all black. People cross all the time with their children in tow, not holding their hands half the time. Sometimes they are pushing them in a stroller, but it's always so dangerous. The speed limit is 35, but nobody ever does it. Cars speed through there all the time. The police officer who hangs out in our building has been trying to do something. He will actually issue the people tickets who are jaywalking. One of these days, somebody is going to get killed.
Unfortunately a little girl did get killed when her mother recklessly tried to cross the street. It is a shame this little girl died. She didn't have to. The last paragraph in this article kills me. The mother walked her children across a very busy road and not in a crosswalk. She was dangerous and should go to jail. I feel for her, I really do. I also feel for the driver of the car that hit them. As one who has had many close calls, I just can't imagine how the driver is feeling.

Cobb mother charged in pedestrian daughter’s death

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Thursday, January 29, 2009

A 31-year-old Cobb County woman has been charged with the death of her 4-year-old daughter, who was killed while trying to dart across the five lanes of South Cobb Drive with her mother, brother and two sisters last November.

Police said Thursday Altamesa Lovette Walker was arrested on misdemeanor charges of involuntary manslaughter and reckless conduct on Wednesday. She was jailed and later released on her own recognizance.

According to the police report, Walker and her four children were trying to cross the busy Smyrna road on at 6:15 a.m. on Nov. 17. They were not in a crosswalk when they were hit. Brandee Kelley was killed. Her mother and three siblings had minor injuries.

The driver was not charged in the accident, which occurred just north of Kings Springs Road.

In an earlier interview with the AJC, Walker said the family had spent the night at her mother’s house and were crossing the road to catch a Cobb County Transit bus to work and day care.

On the advice of her attorney, Walker declined to comment Thursday.

Her brother, Kahmia Walker, defended his sister, who is a minister with C.A.Y.A. World Outreach Ministries in Marietta.

“My sister would not ever put her life or her children’s lives in danger on purpose,” he said. “It’s not even a heartache right now. We went through the heartache already. Now it’s ‘How dare you send a sheriff to pick up my sister, who has done nothing wrong, who has nothing on her record?’ “


Chelley said...

That is so sad and really just makes my heart hurt....

PEDS said...

Just happened upon your blog entry while searching for more posts on this story. As Director of Community Education for PEDS, metro Atlanta's pedestrian advocacy organization, please allow me to chime in.

Sad, yes. But before you blame the victims, consider this: All the news reports emphasize that they "were not in a crosswalk" but none of them mention how far away the nearest crosswalk is. It's 1055 feet away. That's nearly 1/4 mile. So to get to the bus stop AND use the crosswalk would require nearly a 1/2 detour (the distance of about 7 football fields). Would you do that with 4 children in tow?

Further, today's article uses the word "dart" to describe how they were crossing the road. "Dart" suggests a rapid, dashing, possibly haphazard movement. Yet, there is no evidence warrant the use of that biased word. Sure, some people dash across the street, but I doubt one could "dart" with 4 kids. My understanding is that she crossed to the center turn lane and waited there for a car to pass. She saw a gap in traffic and attempted to finish crossing.

What about the driver? The crash occurred at 6:15am just before sunrise. I've heard claims that the driver's lights were not on. Was the driver on a cell phone or otherwise distracted? Was the driver speeding? Pedestrians hit at 40mph have an 85% chance of being killed. Pedestrians hit at 30mph have about a 50-50 chance of survival. Hit at just 20mph, 95% of pedestrians survive. So clearly, speed helped determine the chance of fatality in this case.

PEDS has urged Cobb County and other jurisdictions to install small pedestrian refuge islands at transit locations on multi-lane roads like South Cobb Drive. They're not "crosswalks" but simply islands of concrete that allow pedestrians to cross busy streets in two stages and have a safe place to wait in the middle. It's shameful that transportation agencies have failed to provide safe crossings for pedestrians, even at the most obvious spots: bus stops.

Lastly (I know this is getting long), you mention "jaywalking." Jaywalking is not a crime. It’s not even mentioned in the Georgia code. In fact, crossing the street outside of a crosswalk is perfectly legal in most locations. According to Georgia code 40-6-92(a), pedestrians who cross at any point other than within a marked or unmarked crosswalk must “yield the right of way to all vehicles upon the roadway unless they have already, and under safe conditions, entered the roadway.” The law does NOT prohibit pedestrians from crossing the street outside a crosswalk. It simply requires pedestrians to yield to traffic when doing so.

Section 40-6-92(c) of the Georgia code does make it illegal for pedestrians to cross outside a marked crosswalk, but only “between *adjacent* intersections at which traffic-control signals are in operation.” That applies only in downtown areas or other dense activity centers where every intersection has a light. However, most intersections in metro Atlanta are not controlled by traffic signals. They’re controlled by stop signs. Think of all the side streets that intersect with major roads like South Cobb Drive or Jimmy Carter Blvd. Those are all intersections not controlled by traffic signals. Crossing between them is legal. It might not be very safe, but as long as pedestrians enter the roadway without darting in front of a nearby car and yield to drivers in all lanes, crossing is legal.

Hope that helps clarify the incident a little. Thanks!
Michael Orta