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4 dead, 3 injured in Boise, Garden City crashes this April

Two women died on Sunday, April 24 when their motorcycle crashed near Ustick Road and 43rd Street, and on April 19, a man was hit by a car while trying to cross the same section of Ustick.
Two women died on Sunday, April 24 when their motorcycle crashed near Ustick Road and 43rd Street, and on April 19, a man was hit by a car while trying to cross the same section of Ustick. kjones@idahostatesman.com

April has seen a flurry of fatal and serious-injury crashes in Boise and Garden City involving pedestrians, bicyclists and motorcyclists.

Those three groups are the most vulnerable in crashes, and they tend to be on local streets more frequently when spring brings warmer weather.

But is this month’s crash toll, including four deaths and three severe injuries within a 17-day period, unusual?

Comparative numbers and trends were not immediately available from Boise police Monday. In Garden City, Lt. Abe Blount cited one unusual and troubling detail in that city’s traumatic April accidents: Two of the three were at or near the same intersection — Ustick Road and 43rd Street.

“It’s very rare to have two serious accidents like that in the same stretch of road,” Blount said.

Asked whether any changes are expected or needed in that area to minimize future crashes, he said officials will take a hard look at that “once we see the final reconstruction on the accidents and get the investigations completed.”

Blount said the Ada County sheriff’s crash reconstruction unit is working on both Ustick crashes, which happened only five days apart: A car hit and seriously injured a pedestrian last Tuesday, and a single-motorcycle crash killed the driver and her passenger Sunday.

According to Idaho Transportation Department crash data gathered by the Idaho Statesman, the number of fatal and serious-injury crashes involving bicycles and pedestrians in Boise and Garden City so far this April is higher than in most years since 2009, and ties, at five, the number for April 2014. And there’s still nearly a week left this April.

ITD statistics for 2015 are not yet available, but for the previous six Aprils they show: no serious bicycle or pedestrian accidents in 2009; one in 2010; three in 2011; two in 2012; one in 2013; and five in 2014, including one fatality.

So far this April, two Boise pedestrians have been killed by vehicles, and a motorcycle crash (a category not included in the statistics for past years cited above) claimed two lives. A 5-year-old Boise boy on a bike was critically injured by a car, and two pedestrians were seriously injured in separate Garden City crashes.

THE CRASHES

April 8: Allegedly on meth and texting, Tyler Martinez drove a car off the travel lanes of South Development Avenue in Boise, hitting and killing pedestrian Joel Eggers, 64, who was walking along the side of the road and was hit from behind. Martinez is charged with vehicular manslaughter and violating his probation in a 2014 burglary case.

April 13: Alan Poulton, 31, was hit and fatally injured by a car while crossing State Street near 35th Street in Boise shortly before 7 a.m. He was not in a crosswalk. The driver and others attempted to help Poulton, who was pronounced dead a short time later. Boise police say the crash is still under investigation and no decision has been made about possible citations or charges.

April 19: Brian E. Slagel, 36, was hit and seriously injured about 2 a.m. on Ustick Road near 43rd Street in Garden City. He remained in a Boise hospital Monday. The driver of the car suffered less serious injuries, and the crash remains under investigation by Garden City police.

April 21: A car hit a 5-year-old on a bicycle near Latah and Nez Perce in Boise, sending him to the hospital with life-threatening injuries. Boise police are still investigating the crash, and the child’s family has asked police not to give further updates on his condition, BPD spokeswoman Haley Williams said Monday.

April 22: Rochelle L. Morris, 51, of Garden City, was hit and seriously injured while crossing Chinden Boulevard about 9:45 p.m. between 40th and 41st streets. She was not in a crosswalk. Garden City police say alcohol may be a factor. The crash remains under investigation.

April 24: Angela Davis, 44, and Melissa Gavard, 36, died at the scene after their motorcycle, driven by Davis, crashed near Ustick and 43rd streets in Garden City on Sunday evening. No other vehicles were reportedly involved in the crash, which is under investigation.

BE CAREFUL OUT THERE

The causes of most of the severe crashes so far this month are still under investigation. But police urge drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians to watch out for each other, avoid distractions and obey the rules of the road, including speed limits and stop signs.

Bikes, motorcyclists and pedestrians can be hard for car and truck drivers to see, and people on both sides of that dynamic should be aware of that fact.

The Boise police spokeswoman stressed that city ordinance requires drivers to keep 3 feet between their vehicle and a bicycle.

Kristin Rodine: 208-377-6447

Anna Webb contributed.

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