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TV6 Investigates: Scott County traffic deaths spike two years in a row

Published: Dec. 18, 2021 at 8:11 AM CST
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DAVENPORT, Iowa (KWQC) - “I think by the time he saw him, it was too late,” said Lindsay McGraw, the sister of Galesburg native Jason McGraw.

McGraw was struck and killed by a car in December of 2018. Lindsay says it was mere seconds after she had missed a phone call from him that she found out jason had been hit.

“I wonder if he wasn’t calling me when he was walking cross the street because it was just so soon afterwards,” said McGraw.

It’s a tragic accident that could happen to anyone just wanting to quickly cross the street. A one second distraction could save a life.

For the Davenport Police Department, it’s something they have been seeing more frequently: distraction, along with reckless speeding, makes the perfect storm for disaster.

“I think we’re number two, three in the state as far as municipality, as far as the fatalities and the crashes,” said Officer Kris Mayer of the department’s Traffic Safety Unit, “you have people that [are] driving faster, even though there’s a speed limit; everybody flies around town.”

In Scott County alone there have been 46 traffic deaths since 2019. Over half of those deaths occurred in the city of Davenport, and more than doubled in number from 2019 to 2020.

2020 has stayed on the same spike in terms of numbers, with 12 deaths, four fewer fatalities than in 2020, occurring during the year.

This year specifically, however, has had an unusual trend. Seven out of the 12 crashes were pedestrian related.

“The uptick In pedestrian crashes is alarming,” said Mayer.

While there are many contributing factors to the spike in traffic fatalities, police say one reason is the cell phone.

“You watch people walking around and even walking down the street; they’re looking at their phones, oblivious to whatever is going on around them.” said Mayer.

While no one knows if Jason McGraw was on his phone at the exact moment that he was hit, his sister says she found out about the accident when she called him right back.

“I picked up the phone and called it back, and it was another guy that answered the phone and he said ‘do you know this guy, he was just hit by a car,’” said McGraw.

Jason had been walking across a street not using a crosswalk to meet Lindsay and her husband for drinks.

MCGRAW HAD BEEN WALKING ACROSS A GALESBURG STREET—NOT USING A CROSSWALK-- TO MEET LINDSAY AND HER HUSBAND FOR DRINKS.

“That’s how people get hit and it hurts to watch sometimes,” said McGraw, “you wish people would be more careful in crossing.”

Police say that while five of the seven fatal pedestrian crashes this year were the result of the pedestrian’s actions, the driver can never be too cautious.

“I had a gentleman about a week ago [that] I thought it was a drunk driver,” commented Mayer, “He’s got his little facetime up and he’s talking and driving, doing a video call on his phone and literally for six blocks he’s weaving in and out of the lanes.”

The road is never a place to get too comfortable, whether you are walking, driving or riding a bike.

“How long does it take to run out to a lane from a curb in the middle of traffic?” asked Mayer, “Two, to three seconds, and if you’re not paying attention, bad stuff happens.”

Accidents happen all the time and they can happen to anyone. Due a large part to distractions, they are happening more frequently.

“I tell people: hit the speaker button [and] set it down so you’re not using your phone,” said Mayer.

Another tip police give to pedestrians is to look both ways before crossing the road. It is something you probably already know but could always be reminded of.

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