In the last week, the intersection of St. Paul and 33rd Streets has been the site of two separate traffic accidents involving pedestrian collisions. On Friday, a city bus collided with a University of Baltimore student, 20-year-old junior Hillary Walsh, leaving her in serious condition; shortly after 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 7, two Hopkins sophomores were struck by a southbound vehicle.
The News-Letter first reported on Walsh, who is being treated at Hopkins Hospital, shortly after the accident on Friday night. The collision temporarily halted traffic in the thoroughfare and drew a crowd of onlookers until the scene was cleared.
Walsh was hit at 5:50 p.m. by the MTA 301 bus while crossing St. Paul diagonally toward Barnes and Noble. She had just eaten dinner at Chipotle Mexican Grille on St. Paul and heading northbound to catch the JHMI shuttle downtown, according to Hopkins sophomore Joella Allen, 19, the victim's companion at the time. Reports state that the bus pushed Walsh approximately 15 feet through the intersection and projected her an additional few yards before coming to a halt.
Campus Safety and Security was swift to the scene, arriving within 30 seconds. The bus, carrying rush hour passengers, remained parked in the middle of the thoroughfare after its passengers were deposited onto the curb.
"Everyone seemed to be calming down [by the time we arrived] but it was still pretty startling," sophomore Dani DiPersia said, standing on the street corner outside of Subway.
She gestured towards the center of the intersection, where a pair of plastic lime green sunglasses and a sneaker — both the victim's — lay strewn in the headlights of the stalled bus. The windshield of the vehicle was cracked but intact.
As the crowd craned its necks, law enforcement and traffic officials attempted to piece together the details of the situation. Officers from Baltimore City Police and Maryland Transportation Authority arrived on the scene shortly after Campus Safety and Security and attempted, unsuccessfully, to resolve the question of fault.
"The bus was stopped, dispatching passengers, and [Walsh] walked out in front of it. At this time, we don't know who had the right of way," Sargeant Charles Benjamin II of Campus Police said, as he directed near-stagnant traffic around the collision site.
The passengers seemed more definitive in their judgments, but without consensus.
"The bus came through the red light and blew the horn at the car taking a left [through the intersection]," Baltimore resident Delano Bailey said. "I've been a driver for 42 years and I might not be the best, but I'm better than whoever was behind the wheel there."
Reginald Hairston, another Baltimorean on the bus, offered another perspective: Walsh, he ventured, was reckless.
"She started running out in front of the bus, and the bus slammed on the brakes, but it was too late," he said.
"My God," he added, "it was loud."
Meanwhile, the bus driver – who declined to give his name – sat on the interior steps of his vehicle, looking flustered.
Ten feet from him, the paved median between Subway and Bradford Apartments was empty but for conversing officers and a worried-looking young woman – Allen, who, in the days after the accident, has clung to her friend's proverbial bedside, simultaneously using her Facebook page to brief the community on Walsh's status.
To do the same, Walsh's parents have created a tribute page on CaringBridge, a website with a blog capacity utilized by those in ill health (or, more often than not, their caretakers) to provide updates on their health collision.
In the days since the accident, the page reports, Walsh's condition has progressed from serious but stable – the collision left her with shattered ribs, a punctured spleen, a broken left fibula, and most seriously, skull fractures – to one of "great strides," as the most recent journal entry on her CaringBridge page states. Her injuries are not life-threatening.
"She is definitely improving, but she has a long way to go," the journal, updated by her brother Ben Walsh shortly after midnight on Wednesday, reads, citing a decrease in brain swelling and improved cognitive function but also shallow breathing and a perhaps damaged diaphragm.
Little is known, meanwhile, about Tuesday night's incident involving two Hopkins students, other than what was provided in Campus Safety and Security's Daily Incident Report on Wednesday.
"A southbound vehicle driven by a non-affiliated motorist making a right turn from St. Paul St. onto 33rd St. struck two sophomores walking southbound in the crosswalk just west of St. Paul St.," it reads. "Baltimore Police, campus officers, off-duty Baltimore Police officers working for JHU and an ambulance responded. The students reported leg and hip soreness but they declined to be taken to the hospital."
The Walsh incident, meanwhile, failed to appear in any campus security bulletin, which Executive Director Edmund G. Skrodzki dismissed as an "unfortunate clerical error" and not a consequence of Walsh's lack of affiliation to Hopkins.
"It should have been in the Daily Incident Report similar to the one we reported yesterday. It doesn't matter if [the victim] is an affiliate or a non-affiliate," Skrodzki wrote in an e-mail to The News-Letter.
He could not comment further, since neither incident falls into the jurisdiction of Campus Safety and Security.
City authorities, however, are working to make sense of the collisions that wounded three college undergraduate students a block from Homewood over the course of six days.
"All of our information is still preliminary," Baltimore Police Department Detective Jeremy Silbert said. "It might be another few weeks we complete our investigations, and we will wait until it's complete before we make any decisions."
By "decisions," Silbert refers to the deliberations between law enforcement agencies and the State's Attorney office, which will resolve both who to blame and how to penalize.