TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — If you're walking near Florida State University, you may start to notice more law enforcement officers in the area.
The death of 19-year-old Natalie Nickchen and the serious injury of another student after they were both hit by cars while crossing busy streets near Florida State University has the community talking about pedestrian safety.
The separate events happened within days of each other, and while they did not occur on university property, university president John Thrasher said the FSU Police Department will be stepping up the enforcement of traffic laws around the campus.
“In recent years, the university has made significant investments to improve safety throughout campus, including new crosswalks, bike lanes, signage and other awareness activities,” Thrasher said in a newsletter sent to the university on Wednesday. “Unfortunately, these tragedies remind us that we cannot be too careful when walking or driving on or around our beautiful campus. I remind you to please be vigilant. “
Thrasher said he has been in communication with the Florida Department of Transportation about working together to increase the safety of their 42,000 students and 10,000 faculty and staff members.
Natalie Nickchen was killed on Jan. 30 after a driver ran a red light at the pedestrian crosswalk in the 1000 block of West Tennessee Street. Another student, who police have not identified, was hit less than a week later while crossing West Saint Augustine Street near Gay Street.
A petition has been started to build a pedestrian bridge over West Tennessee Street. The area has seen a recent boom of private development.
A 2019 report from Smart Growth America lists Florida as having nine of the 20 deadliest US cities for pedestrians. In 2019, Tallahassee saw 89 pedestrian crashes resulting in seven fatalities and 66 injuries; 1,044 hit and runs resulting in one fatality and 161 injuries.