Accident that claimed life of Caitlan Barton happened amid West Calhoun "safety walk"

A pedestrian was hit crossing this intersection while officials took a "safety walk" in the same area.
A pedestrian was hit crossing this intersection while officials took a "safety walk" in the same area.

On the evening of February 12, members of the West Calhoun Neighborhood Association, City Council Member Linea Palmisano, and Public Works engineers took part in a "safety walk" meant to evaluate "lighting deficiencies in the neighborhood as well as continuing safety and traffic concerns."

THE BACKSTORY: Caitlan Barton dies after getting hit by truck while crossing street near Lake Calhoun

But according to an report, as the group headed back toward Calhoun Village to wrap it up, they encountered a number of police squads in the process of blocking off a part of West Lake Street. As they'd later learn, just moments earlier a 25-year-old pedestrian named Caitlan Barton was hit by a truck when she tried to cross Lake Street where it intersects with Market Place. Barton would die from her injuries the next day.

Palmisano didn't return a voicemail seeking comment about the tragic coincidence, but she did release this statement to the Examiner on February 13:

Last night's scary incident is a very unfortunate illustration of why I've been advocating for improvements to be made for pedestrians in this corridor. It only adds to the urgency of prioritizing safety for pedestrians. There are a huge amount of workers here that leave on foot, in the dark, after stores close.

The addition of the West Lake light rail station in the future is helping to get some much needed attention to this space, and it is now considered a Pedestrian Advisory Committee priority area. Thoughts of the future LRT station should open up the potential of the county and city to make some major infrastructure improvements to this neighborhood. Thanks to one of CM Glidden's efforts with the budget last year, this is an example of a place where we could do some minor infrastructure (public works-type) improvements even without major planned roadwork happening in the very near term.

(West Calhoun Neighborhood Coordinator Rhea Sullivan also didn't return a voicemail seeking comment.)

No charges have yet been filed against the driver of the DHL box delivery truck that struck Barton -- she had the right of way when he took a right turn from Market onto westbound Lake and hit her -- but Minneapolis Police Department spokesman John Elder told us it's only a matter of time.

"He'll face something," Elder said, adding that authorities will probably still have to wait about a month for toxicology reports to come back.

"If something comes back we know where to find him," Elder continued. "He doesn't have a history of bad behavior."

Police don't suspect the driver, who has been fully cooperative, was drunk or high at the time of the accident. Elder told us last week it's possible he simply never saw Barton before hitting her.

-- Follow Aaron Rupar on Twitter at @atrupar. Got a tip? Drop him a line at [email protected]

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