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Six deaths in one mile of road

Posted at 6:39 PM, Apr 21, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-21 21:39:42-04
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - Tucson can be a dangerous place to walk or ride your bike.  
 
Especially on a stretch of 22nd Street.  From 2009 to last summer, there were 25 serious crashes in the one mile stretch from Osborne Avenue to the Railroad tracks.  Six people died.
        
Now, the city's mounting a special push for pedestrian safety there.
 
22nd Street is wide, smooth and fast from the railroad tracks west toward I-10 but it's been a fast path to trouble for pedestrians, cyclists and drivers.
 
A city map of the area from Osborne to the railroad tracks near Santa Rita Park is a sad summation of the deaths and serious injuries that have happened along 22nd since 2009.  There are 25 dots. The red dots are deaths---six of them, the blue, serious injuries.  But there's a more poignant reminder: some of the roadside shrines where people died.
      
One shrine marks where Roberto Romero died where 8th Avenue meets 22nd.  A pick up truck hit him as he was trying to cross the street.  It was about 8pm on February 9, 2013. Police decided the driver was not at fault.
       
For neighborhood resident David Moreno the map brought home the danger he feels walking his neighborhood.
 
Looking at the map he said, “My God.  I can't believe this.  I can't believe this.  I thought there was going to be something more, not deaths, just regular but these are people that really died."
       
"We had a ten year old cousin who was hit by a car, just down the street here. And my next door neighbor was killed just steps away from getting home,” says Angie Quiroz as she remembers accidents that directly touched her life.   She is President of the Barrio Santa Rita Park-West Ochoa Neighborhood.
      
Quiroz is happy to see the program Tucson just unveiled.  The Federal Highway Administration was so concerned about Tucson's Pedestrian Deaths it tagged Tucson for a special safety effort.
       
Besides special warning signs, Tucson will install more protected crossing like HAWK lights.
 
Mayor Jonathan Rothschild says, “"This is an area where we see a lot of pedestrians not obey the law, not go through the crosswalk and also to try to tell the pedestrians, look, there's a sign there, there's a place to cross."
        
And Tucson Police will step up enforcement of drivers, and walkers who make dangerous crossings.
 
Assistant Chief Mark Timpf says, "There's inattention on the part of drivers, pedestrians that are not using the designated crosswalks.  There's individuals that have been heavily intoxicated that have crossed the street and they're not paying the attention that they should."