Police identify 2 UC students struck - 1 fatally - by driver in stolen vehicle

Police identify 2 UC students struck - 1 fatally - by driver in stolen vehicle
Published: Sep. 28, 2022 at 4:13 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 29, 2022 at 5:59 AM EDT

CINCINNATI (WXIX) - Cincinnati police say they are searching for the driver behind the wheel of a suspected stolen vehicle who struck two 18-year-old University of Cincinnati students in a crosswalk, killing one and seriously injuring the other.

It happened at about 3:45 p.m. Wednesday as Cayden Turner and Namiya Russell crossed Jefferson Avenue from east to west in a marked crosswalk, police said in a news release overnight.

The driver of a northbound 2014 Honda CRV was speeding on Jefferson Avenue and then ran a red light before the vehicle struck the teens, according to the release.

The students were taken to the University of Cincinnati Medical Center, where Turner succumbed to her injuries and Russell is listed in serious condition, police said.

After hitting both teens, the driver kept going north on Jefferson Avenue, crashed into a tree and then stopped at West Martin Luther King Drive, according to police.

The driver bailed from the Honda and ran off, last seen eastbound on Martin Luther King Drive.

Excessive speed is a factor in the crash. Impairment as a factor yet to be determined, according to police.

Any witnesses to this crash are asked to contact the Cincinnati Police Department’s Traffic Unit at 513-352-2514.

Pranet Krar says he jumped in to help one of the women, though she didn’t have a pulse.

“I ran to her, and she was on her chest on the ground, and I think she had a broken leg or something like that,” Krar said. “We flipped her over. It was me and a nurse, and we provided chest compressions until first responders got to the scene.”

Neville Pinto, UC’s president, sent a statement to students and faculty which reads in part:

“I want to share our deepest condolences with the family of our student whose life was taken far too soon. For our injured student, our hopes remain focused on a full recovery. Our thoughts and prayers are with both families and their loved ones.

“I realize this news is traumatic and difficult to process for our Bearcat family. Please know that the university will do everything possible to support you. I encourage you to seek out dedicated support services across campus, including our Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS).

“More than ever, we must support each other during these difficult times.”

Pedestrian safety has been an ongoing issue in Cincinnati, particularly at intersections like Jefferson and University.

The day after the deadly crash left the UC student dead, words of support were written on the sidewalk at the corner of University and Jefferson.

About 20 people gathered at the corner today to hug, join hands, shed a tear and hold an extended moment of silence for the two victims.

“We held 3 minutes and 45 seconds of silence just to mark the time that the accident happened yesterday,” said University Christian Church Co-Pastor Megan Trischler. “It happened at 3:45 in the afternoon.”

Some say they feel safe around the intersection where the crash happened, while some do not.

“I feel pretty safe everywhere I go,” said UC student Abby Lewis. “So, it was just a terrible tragedy that happened but I do feel pretty safe.”

“That intersection is so crazy,” said Chandelle Swigart who said she witnessed the crash. “The crosswalk doesn’t even give you enough time to get across the street before it turns red.”

Since 2019, there have been 1,137 crashes involving pedestrians, including 26 that resulted in deaths, city data shows.

Total year-to-date pedestrian-involved crashes are down so far in 2022 compared to previous years, according to city records.

The same was true of year-to-date deadly pedestrian-involved crashes, of which Cincinnati saw four in 2019, six in 2020 and five in 2021.

The year-to-date count was four before Wednesday’s incident, which now puts the count at five.

That’s in line with 2021 and in excess of 2019.

Cincinnati City Council has approved $8.2 million for pedestrian safety projects in the city over the last two years.

On Wednesday, council members considered a proposal to create a specialized pedestrian safety installation crew in the Department of Transportation and Engineering.

The crew would install speed cushions, speed humps and signs year-round.

The ordinance will go before Council’s Budget and Finance Committee on Monday.

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