RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — In the wake of a Virginia Commonwealth University student being hit and killed by a car near Laurel and West Main Streets on Friday, university students are opening a dialogue regarding pedestrian safety on campus.
On Friday, Jan. 27, 22-year-old VCU student Mahrokh Khan was hit by a car while she was crossing the street near Laurel and West Main Streets. She later died from her injuries.
The incident happened near Monroe Park, a prominent space on VCU’s campus. 8News went to that site on Saturday to assess traffic conditions and speak with students.
Lois Sabo is only in her first year at VCU, but she’s already all too familiar with the driving culture on campus.
“Cars just completely do not care,” Sabo said. “When the lights turn yellow, they tend to speed up and people in general just drive way too fast around here.”
Richmond Police are still investigating Friday’s incident and have not yet determined the exact cause. However, students say it was a harsh reminder of how dangerous it can be to simply walk around campus. Freshman student Isabelle Geiss was devastated when she heard what happened, but she has witnessed numerous instances of aggressive driving throughout the city.
“I really hate to say it, but I’m not surprised that it eventually happened,” Geiss said.
VCU sits right in the city. It is a largely urban campus, which students say can tend to bring about aggressive drivers.
“People get angry at each other,” Sabo said. “People try to pass each other, you often hear people screaming at each other from their windows screaming at the pedestrians.”
In a letter sent to the VCU community, Vice President of Student Affairs Aaron J. Hart urged drivers and pedestrians to be mindful and cautious whenever they take to the streets.
Geiss emphasized the need for drivers to yield to pedestrians. She shared how she’s had her own share of dangerous encounters with distracted or overly aggressive drivers.
“I have almost gotten hit many times, because people do not yield when they’re supposed to when making a right turn,” she said.
Sabo added how she and her friends make a conscious effort to protect one another when walking along the streets, especially at night. She said they try to cross busy streets together in a large pack, rather than spaced out and alone.
“Even when you’re doing that, it’s still sometimes not enough,” Sabo said.
Ultimately, students expressed a common mindset that drivers are the ones in large, deadly machines and need to pay close attention to their paths ahead.
In the wake of Khan’s death, VCU reminded students and faculty members that counseling and support services are available. For more information visit University Counseling Services.