Pedestrian killed in Pittsfield crash near spot of fatal accident 2 weeks ago


PITTSFIELD -- A pedestrian was struck and killed Saturday morning on Center Street, the second one to die near a railroad overpass and Big Y in just about two weeks.

This time, it was a still-unidentified man on a mobility scooter who was struck by a Toyota Camry. He was pronounced dead upon arrival by ambulance at Berkshire Medical Center.

On Jan. 17, a car struck and killed pedestrian Michael J. Rathbun as he attempted to cross the street at the underpass in the dark at 5:45 p.m.

Concerns over the safety of that stretch of Center Street have been voiced -- both for poor lighting under the underpass and the lack of a sidewalk on a side of a road many use to access the Big Y -- and city officials are currently looking into whether there is a need for safety upgrades.

In Saturday's accident, the man was traveling on his mobility scooter in the roadway when the accident occurred at about 8:20 a.m., Pittsfield Police said.

Emergency responders performed CPR on the victim at the scene after he was knocked off the scooter and was laying on the ground. There was no sidewalk space for the scooter on the west side of the road he was traveling on. The other side of the street has a sidewalk.

The driver, who was taken to the police station for questioning, was identified by police as 33-year-old John E. Murray Jr., of Pittsfield. He was not injured, though the front of his car suffered significant damage. The scooter was broken into pieces.

Paramedics from County Ambulance and Pittsfield Fire Department personnel attended to the victim. Traffic on Center Street was blocked off while police investigated and reconstructed the accident.

As reported in Saturday's Eagle, Lisa Phillips, a cousin of Rathbun, has contacted city officials hoping to spur improvements, especially considering the lighting. After hearing her concerns, Ward 6 City Councilor John Krol said he talked to city Highway Superintendent Peter Bruneau. The councilor said he was told additional signage on Center Street could be installed to warn of pedestrians crossing the two-lane street near the Big Y parking lot, and during warm weather additional markings could be added on the street.

Krol and other officials said they are trying to learn whether unlit light fixtures mounted on the railroad overpass can be activated. They haven't worked in many years.

According to City Council President Melissa Mazzeo, Ward 4 Councilor Christopher Connell visited the area and determined there was a need for additional warnings about pedestrians and for more lighting.

Mayor Daniel L. Bianchi said this week that safety improvements will be considered, but he also wants to see a complete investigation report on the Jan. 17 accident and its cause, which might help determine what fixes are needed.

Eagle staff writer Jim Therrien contributed to this report

To reach Nathan Mayberg:
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