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Watsonville police go undercover for crosswalk safety

By Cassandra Arsenault, Reporter, CassandraArsenault@kionrightnow.com
Published On: Mar 25 2014 08:24:27 PM CDT
Updated On: Mar 26 2014 01:23:49 PM CDT

Watsonville police testing crosswalks after a young boy was hit by a car.

WATSONVILLE, Calif. -

Watsonville Police Officers are taking a stand after a 10-year-old boy suffered life threatening injuries from a car that ran him over while he was walking on a crosswalk. Tonight he is still fighting for his life. Now police are going undercover to test just how safe the crosswalks are in the city.

The Watsonville Police had their traffic operation set up at first and main streets, where the 10-year-old boy was hit. One of their officers who was 6 feet 4 inches in height was used so that the cars had a better chance of seeing a pedestrian walk along the crosswalk. Police say that's three to four times the average height of a small child. Also, the officer was dressed as a civilian wearing a reflective vest. He crossed the street consistently for about an hour to see drivers' reactions.

"There is nothing worse than when a child is hurt, and we take it to heart," said Sgt. Morgan Chappell from the Watsonville Police Department.

Just outside the Watsonville Police Station, one of the busiest cross walks sit. Also, the crosswalk where the 10-year-old was hit. Police officers say the driver blew through the intersection and hit the boy a little more than a week ago. Watsonville Police just wrapped up their first traffic operation at the location on Monday.

"What we found out was kind of disturbing a lot of people don't slow down, or even stop when somebody is in a crosswalk," said Chappell.

The results showed just how reckless drivers can be when it comes to safety around crosswalks. Police cited 10 people in just one hour for failing to stop for a pedestrian in a crosswalk. Police say it's proper etiquette for a car to slow down or come to a stop when they see a pedestrian trying to cross the street.

Sgt. Chappell pointed out several people today who sped through the crosswalk or weren't paying attention as Central Coast News interviewed him on the corner of First and Main streets.

"This lady who just passed by her music is really loud she is looking down, clearly distracted. She didn't seem to notice she was crossing over a crosswalk at all," said Chappell.

Chappell says any little distraction could result in serious consequences.

"Unfortunately it can be a small thing that grabs your attention for a second that can cause a tragedy," said Chappell.

Watsonville Police hope more of these decoy operations does enough to get drivers to pay attention. The officers will continue to test different crosswalk areas throughout Watsonville to raise public awareness.