CCU working to improve pedestrian safety after student hit on Highway 544

Updated: Aug. 21, 2017 at 12:37 PM EDT
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MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - A Coastal Carolina University student is thankful to be alive after being hit by a car while walking across 544 this weekend.

Sarah Lemon was hit Saturday night around 10:45 near the 700 block of 544. Sarah Lemon was taken to the hospital and survived. Right now, there's no word on exactly where she was walking or her condition, but students are responding.

They say while the news was shocking, especially with it being the start of a new school year, they could see this happening again.

With all of the traffic on 544, walking between schools, other buildings and restaurants, it's scary, students say, to think this same thing could happen to them.

CCU President David DeCenzo spoke about the issue at the new Student Convocation Sunday. He asked students to be careful because the worst thing is having to call parents with news like that.

"Last year they had another incident as well, so this is not the first one. I know the lighting there is terrible. I've ridden through there, you couldn't even barely see anyone cross the road in general," said CCU sophomore Trey Carter.

The 544 safety committee was created to find solutions to pedestrian safety problems in the area after a student was hit and killed last fall.

WMBF News reached out to Waccamaw Regional Council of Governments Assistant Executive Director Mark Hoeweler to see what improvements have been made so far.

Hoeweler, who is a part of the 544 Safety Committee, said a pedestrian bridge was once discussed but because of cost and utilization problems, members are looking at other safety measures.

The school adjusted signal timing to benefit people walking. Ladder-style crosswalks will enhance visibility. Committee members are also waiting to get a response from SCDOT about reducing the speed limit on 544.

Students say they want to see more being done and fewer people being hurt.

"It scared me to be over there to be honest. I don't want to cross the road and get hammered because someone's going 50 miles an hour and hit me, it's scary," Carter said.

The accident is still under investigation.

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