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Pedestrian killed in Chapel Hill wreck

Posted December 12, 2008

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— A Carrboro woman was killed late Thursday when she was hit by a vehicle while crossing N.C. Highway 54, police said.

Seven pedestrians were crossing the highway west of the South Columbia Street Bridge at about 10:30 p.m., police said. Four made it to the median, but the other three were hit by an eastbound vehicle driven by Micah James Millis, 17, of Durham, police said.

Gloria Espinosa Balderas, 43, of 401 N.C. 54, Apt. E-13, was pronounced dead at the scene. The two other people who were hit were taken to UNC Hospitals for treatment of non-life-threatening injuries. police said.

The wreck remains under investigation.

Police said it was unclear why the group was crossing N.C. 54 at that point. Nothing is located on either side of the highway, and there are no traffic signals or crosswalks there, police said.

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  • Common Sense Man Dec 12, 2008

    "There isn't anything on either side of the highway at that specific point, but there are residential areas nearby in both directions, plus bus stops all along."

    I wouldn't call at least mile apart "residential areas." Same for the bus stops.

  • mpheels Dec 12, 2008

    My guess (and it's only a guess) is that they were walking from point A on one side of the highway to point B on the other side, but not necessarily directly across from each other. For what ever reason they decided to cross the highway where they did rather than at the beginning/end of the trip, it may have even seemed like the safer place to cross because there is less traffic turning on and off the roadway. There isn't anything on either side of the highway at that specific point, but there are residential areas nearby in both directions, plus bus stops all along.

  • Common Sense Man Dec 12, 2008

    They were crossing in the middle of nowhere, where it's completely dark. Where in the world were they coming from/going to?

  • mpheels Dec 12, 2008

    This makes me very sad, for the family/friends of the woman who died and for the driver of the car. I drive through that stretch of 54 between S Columbia and the Smith Level/Merritt Mill exit almost daily, and it is absolutely terrifying at times with cars and pedestrians coming from every direction. Many times I find my self saying over and over, "please don't cross yet" when I see a pedestrian in the median getting ready to step off the curb b/c I know I won't be able to stop in time, at least not without being hit by another car myself. On rainy nights like last night it is nearly impossible to see pedestrians.