St. Louis Boy Killed by Drunk Driver, Put in Harm’s Way by Design

Last month, two boys were trying to cross the street in a suburb of St. Louis to reach a gas station convenience store. At the same time, Ricky Weeden was driving drunk down St. Charles Rock Road in a pickup truck.

The site where a drunk driver killed a four-year-old boy last month. Photo: Urban Review STL

Traye-Shon Williams, 4, and his 10-year-old brother never made it to their destination. Traye-Shon was killed instantly. His brother suffered serious injuries.

That was the 11th DWI arrest for Weeden, who fled the scene. But as inexcusable as it is that this man, who had previously injured others driving drunk, had a valid license at the time of the crash, Steve Patterson of Network blog Urban Review STL says Weeden isn’t the only culprit:

Earlier this month I visited the accident site. Well I got as close as I could.

I couldn’t reach the convenience store or cross the street in my wheelchair due to a lack of sidewalks and crosswalks.  The distance between signalized crossings is more than a quarter mile, as a result pedestrians regularly cross the street where it is convenient to do so.

Media reports focused solely on the driver’s record. Yes, those who drink & drive are a problem, but only part of it. The other part of the problem is this area, just a short distance from the Rock Road MetroBus/MetroLink center isn’t designed for use by pedestrians.

Weeden is being charged with second-degree murder, according to the St. Louis Post Dispatch. In the comments section of that story, readers were also quick to call for prosecution of the boys’ parents, saying children that age shouldn’t have been allowed to cross the road without parental supervision. Maybe the better question is why the streets aren’t safe enough for a 10-year-old to cross without an adult.

Elsewhere on the Network today: Systemic Failure says sharrows are no substitute for a bike plan. Urban Adonia offers an amusing glimpse at how Danes view American driving habits. And Cap’n Transit explains how to reframe the 85th percentile rule so that it benefits everyone’s safety instead of creating hostile streets for walking and biking.