Mother of UMass student struck by car in crosswalk discusses safety concerns

Western Mass News Exclusive
THe mother spoke exclusively with Western Mass News on Wednesday about her daughter’s current condition and what she’d like to see change moving forward.
Published: Oct. 26, 2022 at 5:46 PM EDT
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AMHERST, MA (WGGB/WSHM) - The mother of a UMass Amherst student hit by a car while in a crosswalk on-campus earlier this month spoke exclusively with Western Mass News on Wednesday about her daughter’s current condition and what she’d like to see change moving forward.

“She was crossing the street and the next thing she knew, she was being woken up,” said Linda Monsalve, mother of Julia Monsalve.

Monsalve recalled the scene on October 13 when she received a frantic call from her daughter’s boyfriend, explaining that her daughter, Julia, a sophomore at UMass Amherst, was hit by a car in a crosswalk on-campus at the intersection of Massachusetts and Sunset Avenues.

“My reaction was complete and utter panic,” Monsalve added.

Monsalve set off on what she called “the worst ride of her life” from Rhode Island to Baystate Medical Center in Springfield, where Julia was hospitalized with four staples in the back of her head and a concussion.

“The person who was driving was not paying attention and did not see her and that’s why she was hit,” Monsalve explained.

It marked the sixth pedestrian accident on Massachusetts Avenue since 2018 and the third this year alone, including one in February that killed 19-year-old Elena Lucore. Fortunately, Julia left the hospital that night and her mother told us Julia is preparing to return to class soon, but now, she is hopeful that changes can be implemented to prevent it from happening to someone else’s son or daughter.

“I think that having three accidents there definitely warrants some kind of modification to the intersection…Maybe they can make a raised intersection or they can put some fluorescent or bright colored paint,” Monsalve noted.

UMass is looking to install new technology to help with pedestrian safety on-campus
UMass is looking to install new technology to help with pedestrian safety on-campus(UMass Amherst)

We brought these ideas to UMass spokesperson Ed Blaguszewski, who said improvements are already in the works. He shared an image of ongoing safety initiatives on-campus including a new system in the crosswalk where Julia was hit, which includes flashing lights on the crosswalk signs, which are triggered by motion at night. He also shared information on completed projects this summer, including a raised crosswalk with reflective paint and work with a consulting firm to guide future improvements.

UMass officials added that these “flashing beacons with passive detection”, as they’re called, were ordered in the summer and, despite supply chain issues, may arrive at UMass in the next 10 weeks.