RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Loved ones say Shawn Soares, who was killed by a driver while walking on VCU Campus this week, was a curious person who “just wanted to help people” — and now, they’re calling for better infrastructure before the next pedestrian death.
Richmond police officers responded to West Main Street shortly before 6:45 p.m. on Thursday, May 4.
According to police, two vehicles were traveling westbound on West Main Street when they collided, causing one of the vehicles to leave the roadway. The vehicle then hit a pole and an adult male pedestrian. The vehicle continued and then ran into a building.
The pedestrian victim — identified as 26-year-old Shawn Soares of Richmond — died from his injuries at the scene.
“He was only here last night because he wanted to get his MBA because he was a curious person. He was always trying to expand his horizons and this campus just isn’t safe for people so that’s why he’s just not here anymore,” Wyatt Gordon, Soares’ coworker, said.
Gordon described Soares as a rising star. They worked together at the Virginia Conservation Network.
Gordon said if there aren’t improvements to pedestrian infrastructure in the city, it’s only a matter of time before more people die.
“You can just look at people trying to cross here and know that someone else is going to die. It’s not some type of magic or formula. We know what’s wrong and we’re just choosing not to fix it and we’re losing fantastic people like Shawn in the process,” he said.
Maryn Campbell, who also worked closely with Soares, said he was a kind person.
“He just wanted to make the world better. He just wanted to help people,” she said. “We were just all with him and he was just posting and living his life, and it’s just so hurtful to know that he was on his way back from class and he’s just now gone because we can’t get a grip on just reducing speed limits and increasing pedestrian safety in this city. I don’t understand how this keeps happening.”
According to the university, traffic enforcement has already increased since earlier this semester — with 695 traffic stops, 228 warnings, 811 citations and 61 arrests. VCU is also expecting a report from an independent expert due on July 1 that will outline possible improvements.
“It is clear that major change is needed to the city streets and sidewalks on and adjacent to our campuses,” a release from VCU reads. “The university is 100 percent committed to making improvements and is counting on the city to partner with us.”
The Richmond Police Department Crash Team is continuing to investigate the incident. According to police, the drivers of both vehicles remained at the scene and no charges have been issued at this time.