Runners, Bicyclists Gather to Bring Attention to Hit and Run Drivers

A local group of avid runners and bicyclists are saying enough is enough. They are demanding tougher punishments for hit and run drivers.

The movement began after a series of hit and run accidents, many of which have taken place along Ocean Drive.

Cecil Johnson used Facebook to bring dozens of runners and cyclists together Tuesday night, all in hopes of getting the attention of city leaders and state representatives. After a quick show of hands, it was clear just how many of those residents have had close calls while jogging or biking along Ocean Drive.

"I've had things thrown at me," runner Benny Tamez said. "Cars playing chicken with you just for the sake of playing chicken."

"I just had enough. I've seen this happen enough. We've had the gentleman whose a lawyer that was hit, and the woman, she turns herself in 30 days later. The young lady that was hit, and she was in the hospital in San Antonio for months," Johnson said. "Because people are not paying attention. Or they get distracted, or they're texting, or Facebooking, or they're smoking or drinking or whatever the case may be, and I was like, 'That's enough.'"

One hit and run was as recent as this weekend, when runner Josh Newton was struck along Ocean Drive. The driver never stopped to render aid.

"I'm out here five to six days a week, as most other people here are," Johnson said. "And we want to feel safe when we're out here."

Johnson has already reached out to local and state leaders in hopes of either lowering the speed limit along Ocean Drive or creating tougher punishments for drivers who flee the scene of a pedestrian accident.

"We have to look at this very closely," Mayor Nelda Martinez said. "And we have to see if there's going to be some ordinances that have some, let's just say, sharper teeth in them, to make people accountable and understand the importance of safety. Either to slow them down or address the texting and driving."

"What we're looking at is a driver distraction issue," said Chief Floyd Simpson of the Corpus Christi Police Department. "A 'me me me' attitude in that, I'm the only person on the road, and where I have to go is the only thing that matters."

According to police, in the last year there have been more than 1,000 hit and run accidents. 100 of those were pedestrian/biker accidents. 14 were deadly, four of which involved pedestrians.

"Despite our efforts, because we are writing between 900-1,100 citations a month -- and we've been doing that now for probably a year and two months -- we're imploring, we're begging the public to slow down," Simpson said. "All of these are preventable."

If you would like to join the movement, Johnson said you can click Like on the Corpus Christi Roadrunners Facebook page and/or the Sol Runners Facebook page.


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