NewsProject: Drive Safer


'You just go into instinct mode': Reckless driver nearly hits a student and crossing guard in Wauwatosa

"It happened so fast but it seemed to be going 60 miles an hour,” Kate Pagliari said.
Reckless driver nearly hits girl.jpeg
Posted at 1:17 PM, May 24, 2023

WAUWATOSA, Wis. — A Wauwatosa mother is raising concerns about crosswalk safety after a reckless driver narrowly missed two girls on their way to school.

Flashing lights, speed radar and a crossing guard are all signs that should tell drivers to stop for students.

But as Kate Pagliari learned last month, it just takes one careless driver to cause panic.

"The whole term mama bear kind of comes out,” she said. "You just go into instinct mode."

Kate didn’t just hear about her daughter’s close call. She was right behind her.

"It happened so fast but it seemed to be going 60 miles an hour,” she said.

Church surveillance video from April 24 shows two girls walking to school. One of them goes onto Swan Blvd. only to be urgently pulled back by the crossing guard fractions of a second before a car speeds through.

"What was going through your mind in those few seconds?” TMJ4 reporter Ben Jordan asked.

“You think you’re going to lose everything,” Kate replied.

Kate called Wauwatosa police, but the driver was long gone before the officer arrived. She says safe crosswalks are essential in Wauwatosa because the school district doesn’t provide bus transportation.

“There's crosswalk signs everywhere. No one's stopping,” Kate said.

That’s why Kate wants the city to make streets with crosswalks safer. Her suggestions include lowering speed limits, installing speed humps or making the intersection where the incident happened a four-way stop.

"I would be concerned,” said David Simpson. “I have children myself."

Simpson is Wauwatosa’s public works director.

“This is a four-way intersection and just two sides have stop signs. This parent wonders if this incident is reason enough to put stop signs on both sides here,” Jordan said to Simpson.

"My response would be additional stop signs give a false sense of security to those using it,” Simpson replied. “People ignore stop signs like they do other things so having that additional stop sign wouldn't solve the problem."

Swan Blvd crosswalk.jpeg

In lieu of school buses, David says the city has what’s called ‘Safe Routes to School’. That means about two dozen crossing guards are stationed at busy crosswalks before and after school hours.

“Should they expect any changes to this particular crosswalk?” Jordan asked.

"Anytime anything like this is brought to our attention, we evaluate the particular infrastructure to see if there's any change we can do, we'll do that here to see if there are any options,” Simpson replied.

As Kate waits on the city to take action, she wants drivers to treat crosswalks as if their loved ones are crossing.

Wauwatosa police investigated this incident. The department tells TMJ4 it would be difficult to prove who was behind the wheel at the time.

A school crosswalk violation in Wauwatosa comes with a $111 fine.

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