Car Accident at Bell Tower Accelerates Actions to Improve Pedestrian Safety

Tasfia Khan ’14 sustained minor injuries after a car struck her last Thursday evening as she crossed Main Street at the Memorial Bell Tower crosswalk.

Upon impact, Khan rolled up onto the hood of the black Volvo and smashed the front windshield, according to Peter Bensen ’14 and Clark Perkins ’14, who witnessed the accident.

Khan developed bruises on her elbows and on the back of her head and may have suffered whiplash. She was immediately transported by ambulance to Lawrence General Hospital and was accompanied by Trish Russell, Interim Dean of West Quad South (WQS) Cluster.

The accident prompted Andover to begin working with the state of Massachusetts to determine whether the crosswalk should be shut down completely, according to Head of School John Palfrey. It also accelerated the implementation of the Pedestrian and Lighting Safety Improvement Initiative, which had been scheduled to begin later this year, according to Tom Conlon, Director of Phillips Academy Public Safety (PAPS).

Khan is the third student in the past year to be hit by a car while using the Bell Tower crosswalk, which is marked by pedestrian crossing signs instead of traffic lights.

She spent the night at Isham Health Center after being discharged from the hospital.

Khan said she was talking to a friend on her cell phone on her way to Paresky Commons around 6:25 p.m. Although she saw the car in the distance, she had thought it would stop for her. “You never think you’re going to get hit by a car,” she said.

After seeing the car hit Khan, Bensen and Perkins dropped their bags and ran over to help, according to Bensen. A passing jogger helped Khan to the median of the road while Perkins dialed 911.

Once the police and ambulance arrived, Khan, still conscious, was taken on a stretcher into the ambulance while Bensen and Perkins talked to the police.

Elisa Joel, Associate Dean of Admission, and Peter Washburn, Instructor in Mathematics, then came upon the scene, and Joel called Russell.

The driver of the Volvo was an elderly man on his way to a town meeting, according to Khan. Bensen said, “He was shaking… because he was so shocked.” The person in the car behind the driver came over to comfort the driver, according to Bensen.

Palfrey and his wife Catherine Carter visited Khan at the hospital an hour after she had been admitted. Palfrey said that Khan was in “remarkably good spirits” when he arrived.

Khan’s parents arrived at Isham at 1:30 a.m. and brought her back to their home in Woodside, N.Y., according to Khan.

Beginning Friday afternoon, PAPS temporarily closed the crosswalk for two to four weeks. During this time, the Office of Physical Plant (OPP) will begin the first phase of the Pedestrian and Lighting Safety Improvement Initiative “to enhance safety features of [the] area,” wrote Conlon in an e-mail to the Andover community.

OPP will add streetlights to better illuminate pedestrians and increase the number of signs at all crosswalks not located at traffic lights, according to Conlon. Before OPP can begin work, the school is awaiting permission from the town to add new lights and signs along the road.

The student involved in the first incident of the past year did not sustain any major injuries after being struck on October 27, 2011. The student involved in the second incident, which occurred on April 22, 2012, sustained serious injuries, according to a previous article in The Phillipian.

On April 9, 2012, an unidentified student running across Main Street caused a two-car accident at the same crosswalk.

After the first incident in October 2011, PAPS began conducting a review of campus lighting and pedestrian safety, according to a previous article in The Phillipian. The Pedestrian and Lighting Safety Improvement Initiative, which was finalized over the summer, is a result of the review, according to Conlon.

PAPS is currently also working to collect more data on Main Street traffic and pedestrian crossing times, according to Conlon.