ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — It’s happening nearly every other day in St. Paul — a walker or a bicyclist hit by a car.
On Tuesday night, a Regions Hospital employee became the latest victim. Channy Kek, 55, was struck just after four Tuesday afternoon as she crossed Cayuga Street near a HealthPartners clinic.
In this year alone in St. Paul, 94 people were struck — 67 of them pedestrians and 27 on bikes.
They knew it would be a busy night at the Minnesota History Center in St. Paul, a regular outing between mother and daughter who consider themselves best friends.
“It was a rainy night. It was March so it was dark,” Teresa Kokesch recalled.
Teresa and Shelby Kokesch settled for street parking. At the end of the night, they crossed a busy Kellogg Boulevard at Mulberry Street in the crosswalk to get back to their car. A driver in the right lane stopped to let them pass. An SUV in the left lane didn’t see them.
“I remember trying to turn away. All of the sudden, I saw it there and I’m like, ‘I’m going to run away and go the other way,’ and it was too late. I don’t know where she was,” Teresa Kokesch said.
Shelby Kokesch, 24, died at the hospital. Teresa would spend two weeks there healing her broken ribs, separated shoulder and head injuries.
Shelby was the first pedestrian to die in St. Paul this year. Erin Durham became the second last month after getting her son on his school bus crossing Maryland Avenue. The third came on Tuesday afternoon as Channy Kek a Regions Hospital interpreter walked in a crosswalk.
Sixty-four others were struck this year and survived.
The numbers have the St. Paul Police Department hand-delivering a reminder to drivers, setting up 34 two-hour crosswalk enforcement crackdowns.
Officers and volunteers walk the crosswalk as Sgt. Jeremy Ellison looks on, signaling to waiting squads which cars don’t stop.
“An overwhelming response from people is, ‘I didn’t see them,'” Sgt. Ellison said. “People are not paying attention and they’re driving too fast.”
St. Paul Police have issued more than 350 citations in the 22 crosswalk enforcements they’ve completed and it’s a costly mistake to make, $186 for a ticket.”
Shelby’s loss has been beyond comprehension considering what her mom has already gone through. Her oldest daughter Quinn died in a car crash less than four years ago, at 23.
“All these people in car accidents and pedestrian accidents — they need to be remembered, too,” Teresa said.
Through her heartbreak, a mother is now making her message public, with a hope it makes drivers slow down.
“It’s not saving you that much time but it’s saving you,” she said.
WCCO compared St. Paul pedestrian and bike crashes with Minneapolis and found the larger city had about half as many crashes. In Minneapolis, 29 pedestrians have been hit. One was fatal. 21 bicycles were struck and no one died.
You can see for yourself where pedestrians and bicyclists have been hit in St. Paul on this interactive map.