OC Pedestrian Charge Signals Increased Enforcement

OCEAN CITY — With thousands of visitors, many of them recent graduates, and hundreds of intersections in town, Ocean City police will have a tough time over the next few weeks enforcing pedestrian safety laws, but at least one incident this week shows it’s serious business.

An 18-year-old Taneytown woman was arrested this week for dashing across the street against a pedestrian signal at Coastal Highway and 81st Street and later attempting to elude police. Kathryn Kelly, 18, of Taneytown, Md., was arrested early Tuesday morning and was charged with the rarely seen failure to obey an “upraised hand” traffic signal. Kelly’s situation was complicated when she attempted to run away from the officer attempting to give her a citation.

Just after midnight on Monday, an OCPD officer on patrol in the area of 81st Street and Coastal Highway observed the pedestrian signal indicator had counted down to zero. Just prior to the light turning green for vehicle traffic, the officer observed Kelly and another female companion step off the curb and start running east in the crosswalk.

At that point, the northbound traffic on Coastal Highway began moving, but Kelly and her companion had not yet reached the median. According to police reports, instead of stopping, they continued to run east across the highway. Vehicles in the travel lanes had to brake to avoid striking them.

As the girls reached the northbound curb, the officer activated his emergency equipment in an attempt to stop them. The two girls started sprinting through a condo parking lot at 81st Street and split off in opposite directions as the officer pursued them. According to police reports, Kelly first ran toward the beach and the officer followed. As the officer came parallel to Kelly and ordered her to stop, she looked right at him for a brief second and took off again in the direction of Coastal Highway.

The officer eventually got out of his vehicle and tracked Kelly down on foot. At that point, she was arrested for failing obey an “upraised hand” pedestrian signal and failure to obey a lawful order. In the vast scheme of things, the incident was minor but illustrated the OCPD’s re-dedication to enforcing the pedestrian laws, especially during June Bug season.

“Crossing the highway against the pedestrian signal can quickly become a deadly choice,” said OCPD spokesperson Lindsay Richard this week. “Our police officers are not only sworn to enforce our laws, but they are also sworn to keep our residents safe and this includes preventing poor choices on our roadways.”

Since a rash of pedestrian-vehicle collisions several years ago, the Town of Ocean City and its state and local partners have embarked on an aggressive pedestrian safety awareness program including the “Walk Smart” signage and familiar crab mascot.

“There have been significant efforts to make crossing the highway on the crosswalk with the pedestrian signal easy for our citizens, and our citizens now have no excuse to cross the highway in an unsafe manner,” she said. “For this reason, our officers will be strictly enforcing pedestrian and traffic laws in an effort to keep each and every one of our citizens safe.”

About The Author: Shawn Soper

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Shawn Soper has been with The Dispatch since 2000. He began as a staff writer covering various local government beats and general stories. His current positions include managing editor and sports editor. Growing up in Baltimore before moving to Ocean City full time three decades ago, Soper graduated from Loch Raven High School in 1981 and from Towson University in 1985 with degrees in mass communications with a journalism concentration and history.