Senior Sara Gail Ng Lim was struck by a car yesterday evening while stepping into a crosswalk on Elmwood Avenue in front of the Strong Memorial Hospital Medical Research Building. According to a hospital spokesman, Lim is currently undergoing treatment at Strong Hospital and is in guarded condition.
The incident occurred at approximately 7 p.m. in light rain, according to a community notice released via e-mail by Director of University Security Walter Mauldin to the University community. Lim was walking southbound from the River Campus side of the road. She had just stepped into the crosswalk when she was hit in the first lane of traffic by the front right bumper of a westbound car. The driver has not been charged.
Mauldin said that the precise sequence of events as recounted by the multiple witnesses is inconclusive at this time.
“We have a general understanding of what happened, but at the key moment [of impact] it is hard to get precision on exactly what happened,” Mauldin said.
UR President Joel Seligman offered his support in the press release.
“We offer our heartfelt wishes to Sara for her speedy recovery and for her return to campus activities,” Seligman said. “We will provide any assistance we can to support Sara’s family and friends at this time.”
According to the press release, Dean of the College Richard Feldman assigned members of the Dean of Students’ Office to contact Lim’s parents and also offer counseling support to her friends and her roommates. Acting Dean of Students Matthew Burns said that he has been in touch with Lim’s parents, who live in the Philippines.
“I have had several conversations with the parents, and the father is en route to the University now,” Burns said.
Emergency response personnel responded to the scene within minutes. According to Mauldin, a graduate student witnessed the accident and called it in to University Security via cell phone. Security dispatched officers and then contacted fire dispatchers and 911. Security arrived on the scene in one minute, followed by a Rural Metro ambulance about a minute later and the Rochester Police Department and Fire Department within another minute and a half. During that time, additional security members arrived on scene.
“It was a very quick response,” Burns said.
The issue of the crosswalk’s safety has been brought up before in meetings to discuss Medical Center safety. Burns said that it is heavily used, frequented by anyone on River Campus who has business in the hospital or vice versa. According to Mauldin, University Security worked with city and county traffic engineers to make the path less dangerous. In March, special flashing lights were installed that are embedded into the pavement. Passing pedestrians trigger a sensor, which activates the lights. So far, the deterrent has been effective.
“This is our first accident since they were installed,” Burns said.
After the accident, University officials are issuing reminders to pedestrians and drivers to exercise discretion while using crosswalks.
“[Officials] continue to work with city and county traffic control officials to enhance both traffic flow and safety and pedestrian safety along Elmwood Avenue and adjacent streets,” the press release said. Mauldin specifically stressed the importance of remaining observant and aware of your surroundings.
Burns said that the University’s immediate attention is focused on Lim rather than the safety concerns.
“Our focus is on her,” he said. “We’ll get to the crosswalk. Regular police work is trying to reconstruct what happened. Virtually everyone at the University is focused on her right now. It’s not as if we don’t care about the other issues, but there’s bigger fish to fry right now.”
Mauldin and Burns both expressed high regard for the helpful spirit of the University community. Burns reflected on the number and diversity of faculty and staff from across the University who offered support in whatever way they could. Mauldin mentioned that citizens and other witnesses stopped their cars to offer aid to the victim.
“A very serious and unfortunate event has occurred,” Mauldin said. “A student is seriously injured and a community member [the driver] is devastated. [Accidents] don’t happen very often, but when they do there is such an outpouring of help, and you’ve got to have pride in [UR] for that.”
Wrobel is a member of the class of 2010.