No Charges Filed in Accident Involving College Student, Sch

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EDINBURG – University of Texas Rio Grande Valley cyclists are reacting to the news of an accident that left a student with serious injuries.

CHANNEL 5 NEWS has confirmed the victim was in the crosswalk, though investigators are still trying to determine who had the right-of-way.

Taking a bike to class is part of everyday life for UTRGV graduate student Julia Ondarza, who said the accident is something of a wakeup call.

"It definitely makes me want to pick safer roads and be better prepared with a helmet," said Ondarza.

In a video obtained by CHANNEL 5 NEWS, what is shown is the immediate aftermath of the accident.

According to the assistant chief of Edinburg police, Oscar Trevino, a South Texas ISD school bus driver allegedly ran over the UTRGV student while she was on her bike in a crosswalk.

He said in a statement:

"The investigation has revealed that the bicyclist was on the crosswalk, yet whether she or the bus had the right-of-way at the time is still under investigation. No charges have been filed and the investigation continues."

UTRGV police told CHANNEL 5 NEWS students should dismount from their bikes while in a crosswalk. Ondarza said she feels safest with her bike by her side in a cross walk.

"I don't want to take that chance of someone coming around the corner too fast or being their blind spot," said Ondarza.

According to the Texas transportation code, sec. 552.001.

Traffic control signals. (a)  A traffic control signal displaying green, red, and yellow lights or lighted arrows applies to a pedestrian as provided by this section unless the pedestrian is otherwise directed by a special pedestrian control signal.

(b)  A pedestrian facing a green signal may proceed across a roadway within a marked or unmarked crosswalk unless the sole green signal is a turn arrow.

(c)  A pedestrian facing a steady red signal alone or a steady yellow signal may not enter a roadway.

Texas Department of Transportation spokesperson Octavio Saenz said pedestrians have the right-of-way when they are in intersection crosswalks at the appropriate time with designated traffic control devices.

People who cross outside of these parameters do not have the right-of-way.

"Whether you use the crosswalk or whether you see there's a traffic control device," said Saenz. "I think the number one thing an individual needs to exercise is prudence. Being aware, keenly aware of surroundings and being keenly aware of who's around you and what it is that you're doing."

Saenz said the burden of pedestrian safety is shared with drivers and nothing should be more important than focusing on the road.

Today CHANNEL 5 NEWS learned the bus driver is suspended with pay and will remain so until the investigation is brought to a close.

South Texas ISD spokesperson Amanda Odom said the district has an emergency response protocol in place when buses are involved in accidents.

Drivers are trained to call the police and EMS and then notify the supervisor of the situation.

Odom claims the driver followed the district protocol in the aftermath of the accident. She adds the driver has a clean conduct record with the district.


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