By susan tebben
A crossing guard was hit by a car and injured while directing traffic in front of Watson Elementary School in Austintown.
Kelly Rowbatham was helping students cross at a crosswalk on the north side of the school last Tuesday, after all vehicles had stopped on Idaho Road and the new school road, Lloyd Loop, according to Austintown school district officials.
A truck driven by an unidentified individual then made a right turn, hitting Rowbatham.
“We did do a police report because the car left after hitting her,” said Austintown Superintendent Vincent Colaluca. “People just need to be careful.”
Rowbatham’s elbow went into her rib cage when she was hit, causing injuries to her ribs, Colaluca said.
This incident comes less than a month after another crossing guard, Darcy Fletcher, was hit by a car while working at a crosswalk. Fletcher suffered a fractured skull after being hit by a vehicle that was rear-ended on Idaho Road. She has been released from the hospital, Colaluca said.
The schools are working with crossing guards and the Austintown Police Department to increase safety at crosswalks and school areas, along with construction workers to help the flow of traffic on Lloyd Loop and the surrounding roads.
“We are continuing to work with construction workers to relieve the traffic,” Colaluca said.
An investigation into whether the driver of the vehicle was a construction worker was done, but the schools and the police department determined it wasn’t one of the trucks from the in-progress school buildings. Because the driver did not stop, the only information the police have about the vehicle is the color.
“He bumped into her and just left,” said Dan Bokesch, director of curriculum at Austintown schools, who was also looking into the incident. “Whether he thought it was a big deal or not, he shouldn’t have left.”
Bokesch said due to the two injuries, police presence around schools during the beginning and end of the school days has increased and a re-striping of Idaho Road is planned. The third lane that runs between West Chester and Woodhurst roads will now be a turn lane, Bokesch said.
More money has been spent on fluorescent clothing for the guards and equipment with flashing lights, Bokesch said. A new handheld sign was used by three crossing guards starting Monday which Bokesch said had been working well.
“We are taking every precaution,” he said.
Austintown Police Chief Bob Gavalier said no charges are pending because of the lack of information about the driver of the truck.