Marquette Wire

Residence hall director recovering after accident

One+of+the+signs+that+have+been+put+up+around+campus+after+the+accident.
One of the signs that have been put up around campus after the accident.

One of the signs that have been put up around campus after the accident.

Photo by Andrew Himmelberg

Photo by Andrew Himmelberg

One of the signs that have been put up around campus after the accident.

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When the car came barreling east down Wells Street, Laura Klinger had no idea it wouldn’t yield. She was in the crosswalk when the driver slammed into her right side, breaking Klinger’s leg in two places and sending her flying onto the windshield.

Klinger was in the hospital for a week after the accident, which took place Aug. 21. She has been away from her job as hall director for the Evans Scholars House and Global Village ever since but will return to work the first week of October. Klinger is expected to make a full recovery. Although she is working with a surgeon to realign her eyebrow, which needed stitches as a result of hitting the windshield.

“The whole month of October will just be getting back to walking normally and rebuilding the muscle in (my) leg and regaining balance,” Klinger said.

This is one of the most serious pedestrian-related incident Marquette University Police Department Captain Jeff Kranz can recall since he began with the police department in 2014. That year he remembers a student getting hit on 17th and Wells Streets, which he said is the worst he has seen.

“Pedestrians do have the right of way, but for some reason, here, drivers do not yield to them like they should,” Kranz said.

Directly after the accident, Near West Side Partners reached out to Marquette to put up signs with the message, “Please Drive Safely,” in medians along Wells Street and Wisconsin Avenue.

The initiative is part of the Slow Down campaign, which is a neighborhood-wide project that began this June.

MUPD is also making an effort to pull over speeders more often — a measure, Kranz said, that is primarily a result of the new semester starting.

“When students come back, we always step up traffic enforcement because there’s this sudden increase in pedestrians in the area,” Kranz said.

MUPD is not ticketing jaywalkers but prefers to take educational measures to encourage students to follow traffic safety laws. In the past, MUPD received a pedestrian safety grant and used some of the money to partner with 7/11 and give treats to students for following traffic safety laws.

But Kranz says the problem extends beyond jaywalking.

“Other than (University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee), this is the heaviest pedestrian area in the city,” Kranz said. “Even downtown, (those) areas aren’t as crowded as ours.”

Klinger is impressed with the efforts taken by the university after the incident. However, her biggest takeaway is how important it is to take a few extra minutes to decide if it’s safe to cross the street. 

“We’re in the middle of a busy city and in the middle of two very busy streets,” Klinger said. “I know people get busy with class and all the stuff they have going on … Really, being a defensive pedestrian is important.”

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