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Published: September 08, 2008 11:38 pm ShareThisPrintThis
Driver strikes walker
By Dan Atkinson
Staff writer

NEWBURYPORT - The driver of a car that struck a local woman on Merrimac Street yesterday morning was blinded by the sun, according to police.
Sandra Altarac, 40, of Titcomb Street, was reported to be in stable condition at Anna Jaques Hospital last night.
Newburyport officer Robert Vatcher said Altarac was walking toward the river in the crosswalk by the information booth about 8 a.m. when Harold Boothroyd, 62, of 13 Olive St., ran into her while driving east on Merrimac Street.
"The solar glare blinded him," Vatcher said. "He never even saw Altarac and her husband in the crosswalk."
Boothroyd, who runs The Razor's Edge barbershop on Merrimac Street, said he felt terrible but otherwise had no comment about the accident. He was cited for failing to stop for a pedestrian in a crosswalk.
Vatcher said the sun's glare is a problem for drivers early in the morning on the entire stretch of road from Bridge Street to Water Street. But workers near the accident said there might be another factor - the crosswalk.
"When I'm here, I send people down to the crosswalk with the light," said Ann Brown, an employee at the information booth next to the crosswalk on the north side of the street. "Over the years I've been here, the things I've seen ... no one's been killed, but there's always brakes screeching."
"I hear horns honking several times a day," said Mark Ferguson, who owns the Children's Orchard on the opposite side of the street. "I think it's people trying to pass cars who have stopped for people in the crosswalk."
"I think people should drive a little slower," said Dianne Whelan, who works at the Children's Orchard.
Both Brown and Ferguson said the restoration this spring of a plot of land near the parking lot may have had the unintended consequence of increasing traffic in the crosswalk. More people are using the area as a little park, Ferguson said, and those people combined with visitors parking in the lot are likely using the crosswalk.
Brown said that despite the nearness of other crosswalks aligned with traffic signals, pedestrians are still going to use the one in front of her information booth. But she said a road sign indicating the crosswalk's location, like ones on State Street, would make crossing safer.
"There should be some form of security," Brown said. "Something there that really makes people see it."

Ben Laing/Staff photo This crosswalk, across from the information booth on Merrimac Street, was the scene of an accident involving a car and a woman crossing the street early yesterday morning.
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