First at Five, March 10, 2008
AUGUSTA, Ga.---The Medical College of Georgia community is mourning the loss of a student, and now officers are wanting to make some changes where she was killed.
"It's not safe at all," says Bonnie Rechedy about the intersection of 15th St. and Laney Walker Boulevard. She crosses it everyday to go to work at the Medical College of Georgia.
"I'm afraid of impatient people on their way to work who are not paying attention," she said.
She says it's dangerous, and now even deadly.
Officers say a city bus killed 29-year-old Ji Cheng at the intersection. The first-year grad student was crossing the street to go to school when the bus hit her and killed her instantly.
"I don't think it will be the last time it happens," said first-year resident Matt Culberson. He says cars have bumped him in the side while he was crossing the street.
He thinks the intersection is so bad that he'd rather go down the street where no one is turning.
"You stand in the middle of 15th St. in early rush hour traffic trying to get across the street because [I] feel that it's safer than crossing at this intersection," he said.
MCG Police Chief William McBride says it's not the intersection itself that's so dangerous. He says like many other intersections, it has safety precautions like posted signs and crosswalks.
"We write a good many tickets right there at that intersection for people turning when they shouldn't turn, going too fast, running the light," he said.
He says the department wants to start using radar guns to catch speeders. His officers have already been training with the radar and have found people going 45 to 55 miles an hour, when the speed limit is 25 miles per hour, because it's a school-zone.
"There's no easy fix for it except trying to get the drivers to use more due caution," he said.
Cheng recently got married and was preparing for her husband to come join her, according to Gretchen B. Caughman, dean of the MCG School of Graduate Studies.
"Ji was a wonderful, sweet person; bright, energetic, everything you look for in a student and a future scientist," Dr. Caughman said. "She had a terrific career ahead of her."
The Richmond County Sheriff's Office is still investigating the accident and looking for witnesses. They have not filed any charges against the driver at this time.