Car hits pedestrian at E Denny and E Olive Way — UPDATE

The odd criss-cross of the intersection of E Denny and E Olive Way was the site of a car vs. pedestrian incident Monday night as some of the heaviest rains in months fell in the area.

We’re still gathering information on the the incident but we know that Seattle Fire was called to the intersection around 7:15p after several 911 callers reported a car had hit a pedestrian at the location. We do not have information on the victim’s condition at this time. UPDATE: We’ve learned the victim is a 37-year-old male who was hit in what is described as a “glancing blow” from the side of the car by medics. The man was transported to Harborview, according to Seattle Fire radio.

Seattle Police responded to the scene and are investigating the collision.

The incident comes in the midst of one of the busiest periods for 911 callouts around the city we’ve seen in a long time as rain-slicked roads have cars slipping and sliding and visibility is reduced. Add the earlier onset of darkness and you have the recipe for some dangerous streets. Take your time, pay attention and watch yourself.

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17 thoughts on “Car hits pedestrian at E Denny and E Olive Way — UPDATE

  1. It’s my least favorite intersection on the Hill, whether I’m on foot, bike or car, but I’ve never heard anyone make a recommendation for how to improve it. Does anyone have a suggestion?

    EDIT: Ok, news is coming in that the pedestrian dashed in front of a car, not at the crosswalk, while wearing dark clothes?! Oy vey. Well… it’s still a terrible intersection, but it sounds like it had nothing to do with this accident.

    2nd edit: I’m such a dummy. My least favorite intersection is not this one, but Olive & Bellevue. Olive & Denny is not that bad.

  2. We all need to slowdown a little during the Fall and into the holidays. Rushing home after a long day of work just isn’t worth the damage and pain that can be caused. The days are shorter making it harder to see during rush hour, and the rain makes it harder to stop. Always keep an eye out for pedestrians, and especially marked crosswalks. Slow down please.

  3. I would like to know exactly where the pedestrian was hit and what direction the car was coming from / going to… but I can say from my own experience, drivers heading down the hill on Olive often do not stop to check for pedestrians before turning right onto Denny. I have seen some very close calls here. A good start would be prohibiting “free” right turns here. The grade is part of the problem – pedestrians in the crosswalk are lower down than where drivers may expect them to be — but I’m not sure what can be done about that…

    I’d also like to know if the driver was cited under the new Vulnerable Users Law. Justin?

  4. I watched this happen – I was coming the other way when the guy was hit. He wasn’t walking in a crosswalk; he sprinted out in front of a car going the speed limit down Olive Way. The pedestrian wore all black and clearly did not care about the risk of being hit by a car. Unfortunately, this ended in a worst-case scenario, but the pedestrian did nothing to avoid getting hit by a car, and the driver handled the situation perfectly (stopping, calling 911). We don’t need to slowdown, as previously suggested, we need to stop running out in front of moving cars!

  5. As drivers need to slow down and watch for pedestrians AND as pedestrians we need to realize that if we’re wearing all black (which I often do) we should not dodge into traffic (a practice I avoid), especially in the rain because drivers most likely CANNOT SEE US.

  6. I’m not looking to place blame on the driver—or take any away from the (apparently boneheaded) pedestrian—but speed limits “should be driven only in ideal driving conditions” (to quote the driver’s guide). If the driver was indeed going the speed limit on a night like this, then he was going too fast.

  7. I’m a homeowner who lives on Denny who walks every day to my office in Met Park (the “canned ham” buildings). Just want to share that as I was coming down the hill (on foot) I was hit by a car on Bellevue (“a glancing blow”) that decided to back up and turn around in the intersection. The driver turned, saw me, and took off. I wasn’t physically hurt but the fear of being hurt has never left me since that day. I have a terribly hard time walking to work. My heart pounds and I never know if drivers see me. There have been times when I’m frozen in place watching a car come speeding up or down the hill to get on or off I-5. I don’t think that any one entity (pedestrian, driver) is at fault because this is a poorly designed set of intersections in a city that’s outgrown the current configuration, and ill-considered moves are made by walkers, bicyclists, and drivers. I’ve contacted the city to discuss this intersection and what they told me is that they count incidents/fatalities to determine which areas need improvement. My vote is for a pedestrian overpass or walkway, where walkers don’t have to deal with cars at all.

  8. Eric: You’re right that motorists don’t always look for pedestrians before they make that right on red, but part of the problem is that pedestrians often do not respect the “don’t walk” signal and they start crossing when that signal is red, thereby impeding right-turning vehicles. This is a significant problem all over Capitol Hill because…well, you know, everyone is SO busy and in a hurry.

    It is NOT a good idea to prohibit a “right on red” turn there…that lane is frequently backed up as it is, and your suggestion would only add to the congestion.

  9. I disagree. Slowing down is appropriate for surface streets, but not for arterials. What people need to do is PAY ATTENTION and drive as efficiently as they can (sometimes that means get the lead out), and not go out of their way to yield when they have the right of way. The better traffic moves, the less frustrated people get and the less likely they are to pass unsafely, jam through red lights, fail to stop at crosswalks or watch for pedestrians, etc.

    So I say, don’t slow down; just concentrate on driving well and don’t let yourself get distracted while you’re driving, especially when there are lots of pedestrians around.

  10. That tired old line about speed limits only applying during “ideal conditions” is bullshit. Speed limits around here are set with the lowest common denominator in mind–roads are wet half the year, many drivers are very young or very old, are driving beaters with bald tires, etc.

    Anyone with a modern, reasonably maintained car who is paying attention to their driving can exceed the posted speed limit virtually all the time with no decrease in safety. Further, when you set speed limits too low, you lose your credibility and people stop paying attention to speed limits altogether.

  11. I have to say that I agree these three intersections (Bellevue & Olive, Denny & Olive, Olive & Denny) should all be redone to make the crosswalks shorter and more visible. At least they added new walk signals to the first one last year, which did seem to help.

    That really sucks that you got hit by a car! I don’t know if you’ve looked into this, but I know people who have had a lot of success working with a counselor and using specific therapeutic techniques for overcoming anxiety related to traumatic events. It takes some work, but you shouldn’t have to go through life burdened by that fear.

  12. Calhoun, that is false. I hardly ever see pedestrians jaywalking there. It’s too dangerous. Almost every single car turning right onto Denny doesn’t come to a complete stop before turning. Every time the light turns there are cars that cut off pedestrians who now have the right-of-way.

    The pedestrians are NOT the problem at this intersection.

  13. Regardless of the specifics of this situation the ideal conditions line is a standard for driving instruction and you have to adjust your driving to the conditions. The person in the car is the one moving a couple tons of metal and plastic around at speeds that you can’t reasonably expect pedestrians to have quick enough reactions too. The limits are meant to account for imperfections of human reaction time (on both sides). Until you have cars that will stop on their own in these types of situations your point is moot.

    (Off course how much that applies when someone acts as idiotically as this pedestrian seems to is debatable)

  14. Mixing the steep hills, the street jogging to the north creating many intersections at strange angles, and a busy Starbucks bordered by three of them – it’s one scary area to pass through.

    I hate driving through it and am always incredibly careful because I have no idea when a pedestrian is going to bolt across the street or a car is going to speed into the intersection.

    It needs a thorough redesign. Or something.

  15. Ryan, yes you are correct and I agree that cars need to come to a full stop before they make a right on red, because that at least gives them time to observe if any pedestrians are crossing. But my comment was more about the time period after the pedestrian signal changes from “walk” to “don’t walk”….that is when motorists turning right on to Denny should be able to do so, but they are often blocked by pedestrians who conveniently ignore the flashing “don’t walk” sign.

    It is crucial for traffic flow for motorists to turn right on red from that E Olive lane on to Denny, because otherwise there can be quite a backup, sometimes for 2-3 blocks up towards Broadway.