BOSTON (WHDH) - Heartbreak for two families after a van slammed into a couple while they were crossing the street. 7 Investigates found the City of Boston was warned about the dangerous intersection before one life was lost.
Surveillance video shows the couple crossing in a crosswalk on Summer Street in the Seaport in September. A white van, taking a left turn onto Summer, runs right into them.
Warren Cheng was seriously injured. Diane Ly was killed.
The pair was visiting Boston from Los Angeles so Diane could meet Warren’s family. Diane’s family tells 7 Investigates that she was a vibrant young woman with everything to live for, and was studying to become a nurse practitioner.
The day after the unthinkable happened, those who warned the City of Boston that tragedy was right around the corner were outraged.
“I hate to say this, but it had to happen. Maybe they’ll change the light now,” Debbie Murdock told 7News the day after the incident.
“I can’t believe that happened. It’s so bad that somebody got killed,” said Carlo Lostracco, who walks through the intersection of Summer and Melcher Streets every day.
He said that months earlier, the city changed the timing of the walk signals and traffic lights there. The changes meant that soon after the walk signal showed it was safe to cross Summer Street, the left-turn signal for cars turning onto Summer turned green. So drivers had a green light to drive right through the crosswalk while pedestrians were still crossing the street.
“All of a sudden, you see a car come through, and you think, ‘Well, I’ve got a crosswalk.’ It doesn’t seem right,” Lostracco said, who added that he believed the intersection was an accident waiting to happen.
7 Investigates found at least two dozen complaints about that one intersection were sent to the city in the months before the fatal incident. Nearby residents and workers wrote, “It’s extremely dangerous for pedestrians,” “I see someone almost get hit by a car just about every day,” and “Someone is going to get killed!”
“You have to make it as safe as possible for the pedestrians,” Lostracco said.
The City of Boston responded to almost all of the complaints the same way, explaining that the new signal timing was part of a citywide effort to lengthen walk times while also decreasing delays for cars.
But Boston’s Chief of Streets now tells 7 Investigates that the city started designing changes to the traffic light sequencing at that intersection months before the deadly incident.
“Our hearts go out to the family and friends of the victim of this horrific crash,” said Chris Osgood, City of Boston Chief of Streets, in a statement. “Please be assured that the City of Boston takes roadway safety concerns expressed by the public very seriously, and steps required to modify this intersection were underway when the crash occurred.”
The city made those changes just two days after the couple was hit. Now, red lights stop all traffic while pedestrians cross.
But for the family of Diane Ly, the changes came a few days too late.
Boston police are still investigating that incident. It’s unclear whether the driver of the van that hit that couple will face any charges.
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