COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - Police are noticing a disturbing trend in Columbus. Police said six pedestrians have lost their lives so far this year.
In 2019, 42 percent of all traffic fatalities involved a pedestrian death. Two of the 2019 accidents happened on Victory Drive. So far this year, Victory Drive has claimed four lives. It’s a problem no city wants to have.
Victory Drive is just one hot spot, according to police, where three people have died within three blocks of each other over the last few weeks. Second Avenue, Uptown, Wynnton Road, and Veterans Parkway are other known problem areas.
“We are known across the state of Georgia of being a place where we have an increased number of pedestrian fatalities,” Lt. Lance Deaton said.
Deaton said part of the reason is because Columbus is a large city with a high homeless population. However, he said something needs to be done to help protect lives.
One of the most recent pedestrian deaths is a hit-and-run case, and police need the person responsible to come forward and share their side of the story. 40-year-old Jayme Tarver was hit and left for dead on Victory Drive last week.. Now, her family is begging the driver to come forward. They said they can forgive if he or she turns themselves in.
“How would you feel if it was you in our shoes? You would want that person to turn themselves in," JaCorey Tarver said.
Police said Jayme Tarver was walking across Victory Drive when a car hit her and left the scene.
“And we see that oftentimes. They get afraid, they get nervous and they don’t know what to do. What to do is to stay. Stay, be a good human being, render aid, call it in, do what you can for your fellow human and our fellow citizen and then let us get there and sort out all the other stuff,” Deaton said.
Tarver, a lifelong Chattahoochee Valley resident, is not the only person to lose their life on Victory Drive. Three other families have lost loved ones in pedestrian accidents on that road this year. Police said many times, drugs, alcohol, and not being alert play a major role in these deaths.
“Pedestrians under the influence, in many of these cases, a high percentage of these cases what we’re finding is pedestrians are under the influence and so not only are they not crossing properly, using the crosswalks and using the lights properly, they are also under the influence of drugs or alcohol. So, I think those two things are the major things that we’re dealing with as it relates to the high numbers of pedestrian fatalities in this city," Deaton said.
Deaton said Victory Drive, 2nd Avenue, and Uptown are all areas where pedestrians have to pay more attention.
“Don’t risk your life just because you’re in a hurry. Don’t risk your life because you don’t want to have to walk 10 extra feet or 20 feet or if it’s an extra half mile," Deaton said.
Deaton said community involvement in hit-and-run cases are particularly important to help give the victim’s family closure.
“I mean of course, family members are going to have anger and stuff toward you, but it’s nothing we can’t forgive. We can forgive you. Just come forward. But we can’t forgive you if you don’t do the right thing," JaCorey Tarver said.
If you saw what happened to Jayme Tarver last Friday on Victory Drive, call police and share your story.
“We just want you to come forward," JaCorey Tarver said. "If you’ve got any type of humanity in you, you will come forward and just turn yourself in. Deep down you know it was wrong, you knew it was wrong. A lot of people are hurting behind this.”
A spokeswoman from the Georgia Department of Transportation said an analysis is underway now, meaning they’re looking at statistics and looking for patterns to get an overall view of problem areas. They’re also starting a study in October.
“They’re also going to be doing visual inspections, inspections from satellite imagery. They do it at night. They do it at various points of the day just to see what the conditions are within that road segment and then they write a comprehensive report that suggest what ideas they might have to improve certain situations that would have emerged during the audit,” Penny Brooks said.
“A lot of things could happen wherever they see patterns of activity that we could affect for the positive. They would talk to local city and county officials, let them know what they’re recommending and get approvals all around. It could be anything from traffic operations to speed limits. It kind of depends on what emerges from the data," Brooks said.
Brooks said there’s no timeline for how long that audit will take.