Fulton Street residents warn of dangerous intersection

Published 12:00 am Thursday, November 1, 2012

SALISBURY — Kelly Fisher had grabbed the phone and dialed 911 before her feet hit the front porch at the corner of South Fulton and West Monroe streets.
Fisher, working in her home office, knew from the familiar “boom” of metal on metal that there had been another car accident just outside her front door.
Tuesday’s wreck marks the ninth accident in the past 12 months at the troubled intersection. By comparison, the intersection of South Fulton and West Horah one block away has seen two accidents during the same period.
Fisher ran out to find a white BMW SUV on its side in front of the Wallace mansion, and a woman calling for help from inside the vehicle. The other driver was shaken but not hurt.
Fisher said she grasped the outstretched hand of the woman trapped in the SUV and tried to calm her while they waited for Salisbury firefighters and Rowan County EMS.
Justina D. Woazeah, 33, of Claymont Drive, survived and was transported to Rowan Regional Medical Center. Her injuries did not appear to be life-threatening, authorities said.
Woazeah had been driving west on West Monroe Street. Gavine Pitner, 78, of Wiley Avenue, was driving south on South Fulton Street in a grey BMW sedan when the two collided.
One driver ran a red light, although both said they had a green light, said Capt. Sheila Lingle of the Salisbury Police Department. No charges or citations have been issued, and the investigation continues.
Pitner’s vehicle struck the side of the SUV and broke the suspension, which caused the vehicle to roll on its side, Lingle said.
Salisbury firefighters used saws, stabilizing jacks and the jaws of life to extricate Woazeah.
She was able to speak to rescuers throughout the ordeal. Once first responders determined her injuries were not life-threatening, they slowed down, said Capt. David Morris of the Salisbury Fire Department.
“Extrication is almost an art,” Morris said. “It’s not removing the victim from the vehicle. It’s removing the vehicle from around the victim.”
Fisher said accidents at the intersection happen so often, her family rarely uses their porch out of fear. A year and a half ago, a runaway car ended up in their front yard.
“Somebody’s going to get killed out here,” Fisher said. “I can’t even bring my kids in the front yard because you never know when there’s going to be an accident.”
Since 2000, there have been 68 wrecks at the intersection, Lingle said.
“That’s a lot,” she said.
The culprit is not speed, Lingle said.
“People are running the red lights or pulling out and not stopping for the lights,” she said. “Speed doesn’t have a thing to do with that.”
But residents complain that speeding drivers have created a hazard in the area for years and cause wrecks.
“You can set your watch to the accidents at this light, they happen so often and with such regularity,” said Greg Shields, who lives nearby on Fulton Street.
Shields said the city should lower the speed limit on Monroe from 35 mph to 25 mph, which would match the other South Fulton cross streets.
“The fact that the city allows this dangerous intersection to remain in its existing condition is unacceptable,” he said.
Fisher said she’s lived at the intersection for six years and watches speeders fly by her house every year. She said she was nearly struck by a speeding driver recently while crossing the street with her children, ages 2 and 5, to walk downtown.
Shields said the city should install four-way stop signs at the intersection of West Monroe and South Jackson streets, one block east of the troubled corner, to slow traffic before drivers reach Fulton Street.
Regardless of past traffic studies, which Fisher said resulted in no change to the speed limit, she said people drive too fast.
“Speed is a factor,” Fisher said. “I hope something will change.”

Contact reporter Emily Ford at 704-797-4264.