A baby whose stroller was struck while being walked across Arlington Road suffered a few scratches, but his father says he feels lucky something much more serious didn’t happen when the car dragged the stroller about six feet and knocked it over.
The collision has some community members, including the Bethesda Elementary PTA, calling for more pedestrian safety measures on the busy road.
“It will forever be one of the most horrifying moments of my life when I got the call from my wife saying, ‘Baby Dash has been hit by a car and I’m in an ambulance,’” Robin Harding, the baby’s father, told Patch. “I sincerely hope I never get a call like that again.”
Harding said that his wife, Etsuko Yamada, had been walking their two-and-a-half-month-old son, Dashiel, in a stroller Feb. 27 as she went to pick up the couple’s four-year-old daughter at the Bethesda Montessori school, located behind Bethesda Elementary. The couple and their three children, the eldest of whom is in first grade at the elementary school, live in an apartment complex on Woodmont Avenue, Harding said.
As Yamada began to push the child into the crosswalk on a walk signal to cross Arlington Road shortly before 3 p.m., police say an Acura MDX making a left-hand turn from Edgemoor Lane struck the stroller. The stroller was dragged for six feet and knocked over, but because the baby was strapped in, he didn’t fall out and wasn’t injured, Harding said.
“Pure luck,” Harding said. “He didn’t bang his head, which is the thing that would have been so dangerous."
Yamada banged on the Acura in order to get it to stop, according to a police report. A 34-year-old Bethesda woman who was driving the car was found at fault and cited, police told Patch last week, but the violations weren’t immediately known.
The baby suffered a few scratches and was transported to the hospital as a precaution.
“Luckily, they were able to reassure me quickly that he wasn’t hurt,” Harding said. “It doesn’t come any more horrifying than that for a parent."
The story, has several readers calling for more pedestrian safety measures on Arlington. Bethesda Elementary parent Wendy Leibowitz wrote:
We have to focus on improving safety around the school, by posting the speed limit; imposing hefty fines (and posting the amount of the fines); and installing a speed camera. A traffic guard would be wonderful, but I wonder if there is money and if foot traffic supports it. We have to gather information about the number of pedestrians who walk to the Bethesda Library and the Caroline Freedland playground near there. Ironically, many people drive their children to school or to the library, even if they live within walking distance, because walking is so dangerous.
"This accident is extremely troubling. We need all drivers to watch for pedestrians and to take their time," Bethesda-Chevy Chase Regional Services Center director Ken Hartman wrote in an e-mail to Patch last week. "Gaining a few seconds in your drive is not worth having someone's death on your conscience. Bethesda is a busy place and having a walkable and safe community is our priority."
Hartman said the county's Department of Transportation is examining the intersection. Montgomery County police have placed a variable message sign near the intersection and the traffic squad "will focus there heavily this month," Hartman wrote.
Harding said the road is dangerous for pedestrians, particularly children who live in the nearby residential neighborhoods and regularly cross the street. Any safety improvements should signal to drivers that Arlington Road is a residential street used by children, Harding said, and not an “expressway.”
“Children are crossing it all the time to get to the elementary school, the library, the park, and the supermarket,” Harding said. “All these junctions, particularly the junctions at Edgemoor Lane and Montgomery Lane, are really dangerous. It’s only a matter of time before someone gets badly hurt.”