Crosswalk where car hit Cobb teens is not safe, neighbors say

Two Cobb County teenagers are recovering from serious injuries after a woman hit them with her car while they were in a crosswalk in front of a school, police said. 

Neighbors have been raising concerns about the safety of the crosswalk for years, Channel 2 Action News reported. Dozens of people told the news station they complained to the county about the lack of safety measures at the crosswalk between Wheeler High School and the old location of East Cobb Middle School in Marietta.

Cobb police said the teens were crossing Holt Road using that crosswalk just after 7 p.m. Saturday. Nancy Valentine, 73, of Marietta, was driving a black 2007 Mercedes-Benz SLK350 northbound, police said. As the teens crossed, authorities said Valentine’s car hit them.

The teens were taken to WellStar Kennestone Hospital. One had life-threatening injuries and the other had serious injuries, police said.

Marty Herrin, a witness who jumped out of his car to help, described a horrific scene. The impact was so violent that both victims flew in the air.

"It was a terrifying moment,” Herrin told Channel 2. “I thought I was going to see this young man die right before my very eyes. Both of them were literally knocked out of their shoes.”

He said he and his wife were driving to dinner when they saw the teens, carrying a heavy weight rack, in the crosswalk.

“I saw them plain as day, so we stopped and sat there while they went in front of us," Herrin said. 

He said the driver of the Mercedes-Benz sped toward the crossing.

“It was obvious that they were not stopping,” Herrin said. “I told my wife, ‘They’re not stopping!’ And then boom. She hit them, and they went flying. It was awful.”

After he jumped out of his car, he asked his wife to call 911.

“One guy was knocked to the side of the road into the sidewalk area,” Herrin said. “The other one bounced off the windshield and then landed in the middle of (the) lane. I stood there talking to him, trying to tell him, ‘Breathe. Stay with us.' It was so surreal.”

Police have not released the names of the teens, but Wheeler’s head basketball coach confirmed Sunday that one of his players sustained head and leg injuries, Channel 2 reported. A teammate told Channel 2 the student, a 17-year-old point guard in his junior year at Wheeler, is out of surgery but is still in bad shape.

“He’s hurt bad,” the student’s teammate said. “His leg is broke. He can’t feel his hands.” 

The Cobb County Department of Transportation is looking into the safety concerns, Channel 2 reported. Spokesman Ross Cavitt said the county plans to install blinking lights and cameras near the crosswalk, as well as more signage. 

Valentine has not been charged in connection with the crash. 

Anyone with information is asked to contact the Cobb County Police Department at 770-499-3987.

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