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UPDATE: 14-Year-Old Student Hit By Teen Driver, Police Say

Student was crossing Garretson Road at the time, suffers non-life-threatening injuries.

A 14-year-old girl was crossing Garretson Road from the Bridgewater YMCA parking lot Thursday when she was hit by a car driven by a 17-year-old, police said.

According to Bridgewater Township Police Lt. Al Nicaretta, the girl was crossing from the YMCA to the high school around 6:55 a.m.

Nicaretta said a 17-year-old driver was traveling east on Garretson Road and failed to see her in the crosswalk that goes directly from the YMCA to the school property.

The girl, Nicaretta said, was taken to Somerset Medical Center with non life-threatening injuries.

Superintendent of Schools Michael Schilder released a statement earlier on Thursday, saying the student was in the designated crosswalk on Garretson Road when she was hit by a vehicle traveling on the road in front of the high school.

"Early indication was that her injuries were minor," he said.

The driver, Schilder said, was issued a motor vehicle summons for failure to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk.

Schilder said there was no crossing guard at that location, and that the police are responsible for determining where crossing guards should be located in the district.

"To my knowledge, a crossing guard has never been assigned to that location by the Bridgewater Police Department," he said.

Eileen Buckley—a Martinsville parent whose junior daughter, Noelle, saw the girl on the ground after the accident—said she always arrives at the school between 6:45 a.m. and 6:50 a.m. to drop her daughter off.

"I can tell you that I'm not surprised at all that a child was hit by a car this morning," she said. "The amount of traffic and the speed that some cars are driving at is frightening. The addition of the arriving school buses also contributes to limited visibility in the area."

And local resident Jacquie Zeiman, whose children are not yet at the high school, said she was surprised to hear that there are no crossing guards or police around during the morning arrival time.

"This concerns me as a parent of two children who will be attending the school in the coming years," she said. "But I am confident that the administration has the best interests of our children at heart, and will take the necessary corrective steps to ensure their safety."

JO September 27, 2012 at 09:55 PM
New Jersey drivers are not very aware that stopping for pedestrians in the cross walk is a law. I see it happen in neighborhoods, downtown, etc. I'd start handing out tickets for not yielding to people at once verses a crossing guard.
BWparent September 28, 2012 at 12:29 AM
Every school day for 4 years I worried that my child would be the one injured or killed walking to BRHS. On days when I drove her there, what I witnessed was complete chaos. It all happens in a span of 20 minutes.  It was OBVIOUS that all the situation needs is an officer directing traffic. Instead, I saw BUS DRIVERS directing traffic from their seats. 
teachB-R September 28, 2012 at 10:39 AM
If only registered seniors drove to school and all other student ride the buses as provided by the taxes we pay, then there would be no students crossing Garretson Rd from the YMCA. The school provides safe transportation, although for many seniors the walk from the senior lot is "too far" so they opt to pay extra and park at the Y. Or, for of age juniors "the bus isn't cool" so they opt to pay extra and park at the Y. I feel for the students involved in the accident, but many must realize that safe transportation is provided and much of the extra traffic in front of the school is due to families opting out of the school provided transportation.
Leslie Van Dorn September 28, 2012 at 11:03 AM
For years, my neighbor and I tried to get the town, the school and the police to fix this problem. We went to innumerable town and board of ed meetings. I have reels of videotape documenting the hazard and a box full of documentation proving that this town had full notice of this problem years ago. They put in the blinking light due to our efforts, but it was always apparent that a light alone could not solve the problem. It’s primarily a new administration now in both the school and the town. Perhaps this administration will have the courage to get the police out for the 20 minutes in the morning and the 20 minutes in the afternoon, (to both enforce and help the kids cross), to solve this problem for good. (And in response to the teacher's comment above - that is not true - many children live across the street from the school including mine, and others don't live far enough to get a bus. Even more have activities at the Y and at the tennis and golf course. Let's get this problem solved.)
BwtrMom September 28, 2012 at 12:41 PM
I am also grateful the injuries were minor. A few comments I would like to add. 1. The Y charges an incredibly inflated fee for anyone willing to pay, let them hire the officer. 2. There is at least 1 officer out there in the afternoon, so why not in the morning too? 3. There are some that take the attitude that as a pedestrian they have the right of way and will step in the street without looking or be busy with their nose in the phone. This may not have been the case this time but I have seen it happen. Everyone needs to be careful, just because you have the right of way (as a pedestrian or as a vehicle) doesn't mean you should throw logic out the window.
MWalker September 28, 2012 at 01:30 PM
The danger in front of the high school goes beyond students crossing from the YMCA. There are also pedestrians crossing Garretson Rd. near the tennis courts, and crossing the high school driveways. There is a large volume of traffic, with many vehicles turning into and out of the front and back loops of the high school, as well as Vorhees Ln. and the YMCA parking lot. The height of the 50 or so buses passing through the area severely limits visibility of the other drivers. There has been at least one other pedestrian accident in the past, in addition to several fender benders. I agree that pedestrians have a responsibility to look out for their own safety. The high school (maybe the SRO?) used to convey safety information to the students, reminding them to only cross in marked crosswalks, etc. I don't know if they're still doing that. But the drivers also need to be educated/reminded to obey traffic laws (such as yielding to pedestrians in a crosswalk). The only way to reach drivers is through police presence and enforcement, which is the responsibility of the town since it's a municipal roadway. There is an officer there in the afternoon, but only to stop traffic long enough to let the buses exit the school property. I've seen the officer, and the school administration, stand by and watch as students cross Garretson Rd. without using the crosswalk or the pedestrian activated signal. Engineering alone in not enough. Education and enforcement are essesntial.
maryann schroppe September 28, 2012 at 02:30 PM
People need to slow down. It is a nightmare at that school in the mornings. Everyone is rude and obnoxious . What happened to common courtisy?
momofthreegrls September 28, 2012 at 02:50 PM
I'm very happy that the student is not seriously injured. As a parent of three children who've either gone to the high school or who are currently in it, I can tell you that I won't even go near BRHS in the morning. It's insane. Everyone is rushing, there's buses with limited view, kids everywhere. The only time I'm there (RARE) is if my child missed the bus or needs before school help. Other than that, I stay FAR FAR away. Just for curiosity, why are students parking in the YMCA? It's a benefit of YMCA membership? It's cheaper than the $100 BRHS charges? Juniors of driving age are parking there? What we need to teach our kids is that just because you are in a crosswalk, it doesn't mean that the driver will stop. You must make eye contact with driver(s) to make sure you (they) see each other. And continue to look as you cross. Also, it isn't that New Jersey drivers are unaware they need to stop, it is that some choose NOT to stop. This needs to be enforced (as well as "jaywalking"). A study done in 2005 might not be valid today, there could be many changes in demographics. But, do we really need a study (or a child killed) to get an officer there? How much does that cost for 2 or so hours a day (am/pm)?
Mike September 28, 2012 at 06:35 PM
Maybe YMCA should hire an off-duty cop [for $80/hr] in the morning and afternoon as a crossing guard? I mean, if they're making money from renting parking spots, then why not?
Mike September 28, 2012 at 06:39 PM
The parking fee at the HS funds the lot monitor, whose job it is to ensure (a) kids aren't going to their cars during the day (to smoke, drink, etc.), (b) that only authorized vehicles park in the lots, and (c) to try to prevent people from leaving during the day, which exposes the district to a monstrous liability. I'm sure if her salary came out of the educational budget, people would have a fit. Kids should take the yellow limos (much shorter walk to school than from the parking lots), but that's not cool when you have a license and a new Hummer or Audi to show off. BTW, ever see how many of the kids drive in the school parking lot? Can't wait for someone to blame someone other than the drivers for that.
Mike September 28, 2012 at 06:46 PM
I believe the town would charge the District $80/hr so you're looking at nearly $30K/yr for an officer to be posted an hour in the am and another hour when school lets out.
Mike September 28, 2012 at 06:48 PM
As my old man taught me years ago, "You are GIVEN the right of way; you do not HAVE the right of way." If you doubt me, try driving the Somerville Circle and see what happens when a large truck stomps on your right-of-way. The laws of physics are pretty powerful. ;^)
Mike September 28, 2012 at 06:49 PM
Let's be real: it's mommy/daddy who are paying for their kids to be cool and not take the yellow limo, not the kids.
Mike September 28, 2012 at 06:51 PM
BoE's responsibility for the safety of students who CHOOSE to park in a PRIVATE lot vs taking buses or getting dropped off in front of the school building?
MWalker September 28, 2012 at 07:05 PM
Interesting question. Who pays the officer who's there in the afternoon to let the buses out?
momofthreegrls September 28, 2012 at 07:35 PM
Mike...how do other local school districts charge less than $100 and still manage to address all those issues? One of those mysteries, along with "where is Jimmy Hoffa" that may never be solved. But, we're straying... Let's go back to the student getting struck and pedestrian safety around BRHS. Who is responsible for addressing this? BOE? Bridgewater Police? I don't know, but I think both should be concerned. Maybe the resource officer's hours could be extended to cover traffic duty prior to school start.
Mike September 28, 2012 at 08:31 PM
@momofthreegirls: 1) Most districts (especially large ones) have a security staff - something not yet needed at BRHS - which covers the lot(s), so tax dollars are taking care of it (albeit indirectly) instead of fees. 2) Bridgewater's affluence and 32.5 sq miles means a very high % of students drive to school. Take a cruise through the student lot sometime - it's more impressive than the teacher lot. 3) Some districts (Somerville?) have lots so close to the building they don't need a dedicated monitor (I suppose they just look out the window?). 4) Some districts, I'm guessing, don't bother. 5) As far as where the town's responsibility stops and the BoE's starts...it's complicated and political, sometimes ending up in court. The worst case is when neither side takes ownership and the safety of the kids loses out. The irony is that it's tax dollars in either case; but with school budgets so scrutinized, I think it's better to be in the town budget. SRO time is billed to the district - at least $80K/yr. Many (perhaps all?) of those officers you see at plays, BTS night, athletic events, etc., are paid for by the BoE. Frankly, I don't get such a police presence at an orchestral recital but I do understand the sporting events, having seen more than one idiot [deservedly] hauled away for acting like an idiot, and the increasing problem with students under the influence (yes, in Bridgewater).
BwaterDad September 28, 2012 at 10:31 PM
Well, superintendent Dr. Schilder makes clear what the district's position is: "the police are responsible for determining where crossing guards should be located in the district." And along with being responsible goes responsibility for paying for it, in other words the school district would not reimburse the township for the cost of the officers' time as they do for special events. I believe the school district has always taken this position regarding traffic/pedestrian safety issues that occur off district property. This is a township street.
Jon September 28, 2012 at 10:40 PM
The high school is a highly congested unsafe area every school day... difficult to enter and difficult to exit .. forget more traffic studies now going on for over 7 years .. we need traffic lights for both the high school entrances and exits and one of the traffic lights servicing the YMCA and in the meantime the police department should be out of cars and directing traffic ... later crossing guards trained to direct traffic while we wait for traffic lights which seem to take years to get in Bridgewater
jolene September 29, 2012 at 02:33 AM
Did anyone mention that the driver was also texting at the time. Bottom line...it is everyone's problem, it is everyone's fault. Quit pointing the finger, volunteer to be the crossing guard and we won't have to pay anyone or shell out precious tax payer dollars. If there is a "lot monitor" he is invisible, because hanging in your car, leaving the school grounds, etc is the norm. It is impossible to "monitor" the lot. Install a light that will only operate during school hours, just as a control measure. Hell, they just put up lights at the corner of Foothill and Mine and the only time they are needed is in the afternoon rush hour. They have something like 6 different lights there...seriously???
MWalker September 29, 2012 at 11:55 AM
I don't think you can volunteer as a crossing guard for liability reasons. That would be a question for the police.
Shout_Out September 29, 2012 at 01:25 PM
Drivers in Bridgewater are pretty bad. Stop signs ignored, speeding through residential streets etc. Those same people teach their kids to drive. Bad habits get passed down. Drivers and pedestrians need to be extra careful. Even if you have the “right of way” there are plenty of idiots still out there. Bridgewater PD does a good job around the high school. There is an officer there during dismissal. An occasional patrol on a school day morning should be enough to slow people down and get the YMCA parkers to stop jaywalking.
Mike September 29, 2012 at 02:04 PM
For ten bucks an hour, I sure wouldn't want that liability.
Mike September 29, 2012 at 02:06 PM
Well over 3000 people arriving at about the same time and leaving at about the same time. All on a residential street. It will ALWAYS be congested. Until HS goes online like University of Phoenix.
BRHS parent September 29, 2012 at 04:48 PM
Jolene - regarding your texting comment, you are clearly a misguided individual that is either evil or ignorant, I am not sure which. Assuming you are an adult, you should be ashamed of yourself for spreading unfounded rumors like a child. You should get your facts straight before posting things like this or at least think about the impact of what you are saying to the individuals affected. Since your opening sentence is a complete lie and what's worse, the attempted perpetuation of one, I give no credibility whatsoever to the rest of your comment. You should hope that you are never on the abusive end of crap that you are spreading right now. Shame on you.
Brandon Knox September 30, 2012 at 02:42 PM
Welcome to New Jersey - where the taxes are high, problems are many, and the government totally unresponsive. I've lived in other parts of the country and solving a problem like this was a non-issue.
Mike October 01, 2012 at 01:31 AM
I thought we needed less/smaller gum'mint? That's what NJ 101.5FM and FOX News keep telling me...???
Gerianne October 02, 2012 at 03:25 PM
I agree! I am extremely happy that she was not seriously injured. But once again, where is the personal responsibility? We were always taught to Stop, Look and Listen before crossing even if you have a green light or are in a crosswalk. Certainly if you are old enough to be in the High School you should be old enough to safely cross the street!
Gerianne October 02, 2012 at 03:27 PM
Oh don't worry about silly things like money! Our property taxes can always be raised to cover the cost (written in jest)
Gerianne October 02, 2012 at 03:30 PM
Can you imagine the traffic backups on Country Club Road, Woodlawn Ave ant Bridge Street if traffic lights were installed? Get real!

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