By Beth Lawrence

 

Pedestrian involved accidents continue to be a concern for Sylva Police, following a hit-and-run incident this week.

Carl Bryant Jr., 32, of Sylva, was leaving The Community Table Monday shortly before 4:30 p.m. when a driver in a passenger van backed out of a parking space hitting him.

“He saw the van backing up and yelled, but the driver didn’t alter course,” Police Chief Chris Hatton said.

The driver then drove away. The driver was later identified by employees of the Community Table. It was unclear Wednesday at press time if the driver was aware that he hit Bryant.

“If we determine the driver knew he hit someone and then left the scene, he will absolutely be charged,” Hatton said.

The incident is still under investigation, and police have not been able to contact the driver.

Bryant received minor injuries and refused medical attention at the scene, but police called EMS to assess the extent of his injuries out of an abundance of caution.

Hatton urged drivers to slow down and pay attention to their surroundings when driving through town and in parking lots.

“I’m hoping these new signs for the crosswalks will help,” Hatton said referring to the Sylva Town Board’s recent decision to purchase LED illuminated signs to place at crosswalks. “But the big issue is distracted driving. There’s so many things going on in cars now cell phones, satellite radios. It’s easy to get distracted, but we’ve got some serious consequences when you do.”

The police department installed a temporary radar equipped speed sign on Main Street over the summer to warn drivers of their speed. Hatton believes the sign has had some positive impact because he sees people slow down when they pass it.

He issued a further caution about the difference in speeding through a compact area like downtown. Going just five or more miles over the 20 mph is dangerous, Hatton said.

“If someone is going 25, it’s fast, but just 27 or 28 miles per hour is flying in comparison,” he said. “Because of the small size, it changes the response time considerably.”

Pedestrians can also take precautions to attempt to keep accidents from happening, Hatton said.

“Be careful when you’re crossing; make all efforts,” he said. “Please don’t just expect drivers to stop for you. By law they should, but that doesn’t mean they will.”