By Andra Bryan Stefanoni
PITTSBURG, Kan. —
A Missouri Southern State University student was in serious condition Wednesday after being struck by a vehicle Tuesday night at Pittsburg State University.
The accident happened on Joplin Street, which PSU officials at one time had asked the city to close.
Ange S. Bayet, 27, of Pittsburg, was hit by a vehicle at 6:41 p.m. while attempting to cross the street in the 1700 block of South Joplin Street.
Pittsburg police Maj. Brent Narjes said the accident happened near the Sigma Tau Gamma fraternity house, just south of Carnie Smith Stadium.
At the time of the accident, it was raining and dark, Narjes said. According to the police report, Mitchell King, 29, of Pittsburg, was southbound on Joplin Street when his 2003 Mitsubishi Montero struck Bayet, who was crossing the street from east to west. Narjes did not know whether Bayet was using a crosswalk, whether he would have been visible to the driver or other circumstances surrounding the accident. He said the accident remains under investigation.
In late 2008 and early 2009, then PSU President Tom Bryant and other university officials requested that the city of Pittsburg vacate Joplin Street between Lindburg and Cleveland streets, where it bisects the PSU campus.
Dozens of residents who attended City Commission meetings at which the matter was considered voiced opposition. Many said they were concerned that closing the street would hamper traffic flow around town and could slow the movement of emergency vehicles.
After opposition surfaced, university officials modified their proposal, calling for traffic control measures such as gates, bumped-out curbs to make pedestrians more visible at the crossing, and elevated areas called “tables” six inches above the level of the street to slow traffic.
Bryant had cited student safety as the reason behind PSU’s request. The stretch of Joplin Street under consideration includes three pedestrian crosswalks. Two of them have been cited several times as the busiest on campus; they link the library and the main student parking lot to the oval.
According to traffic crash maps presented at the time by Todd Kennerman, the city’s assistant director of public works, and by Narjes on Wednesday, no traffic-related accident — whether car versus car, or car versus pedestrian — had been reported on that section of Joplin Street between 2005 and 2013, until Tuesday night.
At the time of the controversy, Commissioner Patrick O’Bryan said he thought the plan was “certainly palatable” and added that as a downtown merchant, he had voted for similar bump-outs to be included in the streetscape plan. He was the lone commissioner voting to approve the PSU proposal.
Commissioner Bill Rushton, who died last year, adamantly opposed the plan, calling it “ill-conceived.”
The matter has not been pursued by any PSU administration since Bryant retired, nor is it a part of the current master plan.
Missouri Southern officials stayed with Bayet at the hospital Tuesday night and made contact with his relatives.
“We are deeply concerned about this situation, and our thoughts are with Ange and his family,” said MSSU President Bruce Speck in a news release. “We are following his progress and are hopeful he will have a full recovery.”
ANGE BAYET was taken by Crawford County EMS to Via Christi Hospital in Pittsburg and then by helicopter to Freeman Hospital West in Joplin.