A North End Sidewalk Tragedy

[The sidewalk outside Schroder's Bar in Saint Paul, where the terrible accident took place.]

A few months ago, I went into my neighborhood bar and ordered a Summit from my favorite bartender. She seemed a bit sad, and when I asked about it, told me a terrible story...

She'd been working the previous Sunday night, and this young couple had come into the joint to celebrate their 21st birthday. While they were leaving, putting stuff into their car on Front Avenue, a car blew a red light, speeding down the street, and plowed into the two people. One of the girl's legs had to be amputated.

It was one tiny instant of car culture in America, and in this case, it turned into a complete tragedy. It changed these two people's lives forever. Neither of them will ever be the same. My bartender friend saw the whole thing, and she could barely talk about it.

Schroder's is just a little blue collar joint in the middle of an old Saint Paul neighborhood. People go there to hang out and be a part of a community. The corner (Como/Front/Dale) used to be very walkable, back when all the businesses fronted the nearby Great Northern railroad. This corner still has a lot of businesses, but the intersection is wide open pavement.

Is this another case where the suburbanization of urban streets (helping to increase traffic flow) led to a tragic accident? Could bump outs, or traffic calming efforts, have decreased the likelihood of something like this occurring?

They might have. But I'm not so convinced, in this case. This was a dude fleeing from the cops, out of control, and going down a relatively narrow street without concern for other human life.

It does raise the question of whether or not police should pursue people through urban neighborhoods. Am I wrong, or do some cities ban high speed pursuits through cities just for this very reason?

[An old North End factory in Saint Paul, circa 1900. Img. fm. MNHS.]


St. Paul gang member who injured couple while fleeing police is sentenced for drugs - Pioneer Press

A St. Paul gang member was sentenced in federal court to 11 years in prison in connection with the North End crash that left several people severely injured Aug. 27.

St. Paul police were chasing Wendell Raymone Jones, 21, when he smashed into the back of a car on Front Avenue, crushing Mari Plaster and her boyfriend, Dan Sanford, both 21, between that car and the one in front.

The couple had been loading gifts into the car trunk after celebrating Plaster's 21st birthday at Schroeder's Bar and Grill.

Plaster's left leg was partially severed below the knee and had to be amputated. Sanford had multiple fractures in both legs. Plaster's father and his wife were also injured.

Jones, a known member of the Selby Siders gang, was sentenced Thursday on one count of possessing with intent to distribute 50 grams of crack cocaine. U.S. District Court Judge Ann Montgomery also sentenced him to five years of supervised release. He was indicted Nov. 13 and pleaded guilty Jan. 29.



Anonymous said...

Of course, you might know that St. Paul redesigned the Como-Front-Dale intersection a few years ago to have narrower crossings, and less of a mass of pavement.

Seems like it could have gone even farther in that effort.

Bill Lindeke said...

Yep, the changes are an improvement. But they didn't add bump outs on the Front Avenue stretch, for some reason. So, I agree that they could have gone farther.