Child struck by vehicle near Montgomery school in critical condition

Published: Aug. 26, 2014 at 5:15 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 25, 2014 at 4:59 PM CDT
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(Source: WSFA 12 News)
(Source: WSFA 12 News)
(Source: WSFA 12 News)
(Source: WSFA 12 News)

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Montgomery police say the child who was struck by a vehicle Monday near Capitol Heights Middle School was transferred to Children's Hospital of Alabama in Birmingham Monday night.

Sgt. Denise Barnes says the unidentified child is in critical condition.

The accident happened at the intersection of Atlanta Highway and Federal Drive as nearby schools were letting out for the day shortly before 3 p.m.

The Montgomery Department of Public Safety tweeted at 3:01 p.m. Monday that there was a crash with life-threatening injuries involving a juvenile pedestrian in front of the school.

A number of witnesses stopped to help after the accident and told WSFA that a child was crossing Atlanta Highway in lanes of traffic that had the green light and that other drivers even honked at him as warning.

According to witnesses, the child was unresponsive after being hit by an SUV but did start to breathe and even cry as they waited for help to arrive.

The driver of the SUV appeared very upset at the scene and declined an interview.

A spokesman for Montgomery Public Schools referred questions on the accident to police on Monday.

Katherine Butler and her daughter, Andrea, got out to assist the child. Butler says the victim had head and facial injuries and that his brother was nearby and came over to comfort and talk to him as paramedics were on the way.

"It was an accident. The child used bad judgement and driver of the SUV wasn't going really fast. He was just going a normal speed. It was a green light and he is just totally distraught from the whole thing. He had his small child in the car too," Katherine Butler said. "I guess the little boy tried to run across the street to make it across. I guess he thought he could make it and he got hit by the car. Had he moved over quicker, I could have hit him too."

Witnesses expressed concerns about safety in school zone areas.

"These kids are just let loose and they're just walking and traffic is just moving along and they really need to have a better eye on this so these kids are safe in this traffic on this main strip right here," Katherine Butler said.

That area of Montgomery near Capitol Heights Middle School and Lee High School was in the spotlight several months ago when WSFA cameras caught students in the area goofing off in the road, several cars having to slam on their brakes to avoid hitting children and students ignoring cross walks and traffic lights.

The coverage prompted the Montgomery Police Department and the school district to launch safety seminars and beef up security in and around school zones.

Montgomery police say fixing this ongoing problem is a two-way street -- drivers and also pedestrians need to be aware and responsible.

"Anytime you have high congestion of traffic around the schools or other business avenues and you have a situation where people crossing the street, we always encourage the basic safety- to use crosswalks when possible, be alert watch for traffic, make eye contact with drivers before crossing if you can at the intersections," said Sgt. BJ Champlin, MPD Accident Investigation Supervisor.

Witnesses are hoping the sad events serve as a wake up call to kids as they go to and from school and drivers as they make their daily commutes near schools.

Lee High School continues to mourn the death of 16-year-old Alex Bridgman. In February, he was struck and killed while returning from a school field trip. Bridgman was hit by a pick up truck near the intersection of Cahaba Valley Road and Cahaba Valley Parkway in Pelham, part of a group of students returning to Montgomery from a field trip to Huntsville. Another student who was trying to cross the street with Bridgman was also hit, receiving minor injuries. The group had stopped for a dinner break in the Birmingham suburb at the time of the accident.

And in 2012, a 16-year-old student was seriously injured when she was hit by a car while crossing the street in front of the high school. Officials say she was in a designated crosswalk when she was hit.

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