If the driver had been going much faster, a three-year-old Williamsburg girl might not be alive after being hit by a vehicle Thursday evening on Cemetery Road.
“I am glad the kid is OK. It could have been a whole lot worse,” said Williamsburg Police Chief Wayne Bird.
The accident happened about 7:43 p.m. when, according to several witnesses, a vehicle driven by Richard Smith, 31, was heading west on Cemetery Road when he struck the child.
“There were numerous witnesses in the area, including the parents of the child, who saw the accident,” Bird said. “The parents actually live on one side of Cemetery Road. For whatever reason, the father was on the opposite side. I think in the excitement of seeing dad on the other side of the street, the child darted across the street.
“According to witnesses and according to the parents, the child didn’t even see the car. She just ran into the path of an oncoming car. Luckily the car was going under the speed limit. According to witnesses, the driver did everything that he could do to avoid the accident.”
Whitley County EMS transported the girl to Baptist Health Corbin where she was treated and released about 10 p.m. Thursday.
Bird said the child was bruised up and had a possible concussion, but otherwise was “very lucky.”
Bird said that contrary to statements by other agency officials and some news outlets weather was definitely not a contributing factor to the crash. Neither were speed nor impairment.
Smith, who only had an operator’s permit, was cited by investigators for violating the conditions of his permit by having no licensed operator in the car and for having no operator’s license while driving alone.
Bird said that his officers spend quite a bit of time in that area on that road monitoring speed because there are a lot of children in that area and the sidewalk is parallel to the road.
The area can also be congested with the housing project and several apartment complexes.
“We try to enforce speed as much as we can. I am just glad this driver was obeying the speed limit,” Bird said. “I hate to say it, but it is unusual for people to be doing the speed limit or under the speed limit. Speed is one of my pet peeves that we have a lot of problems with in the city.
“In that particular area we try to pay close attention to it because we get a lot of complaints in that area. I am just thankful that the vehicle was traveling the speed it was traveling.”
Bird said he would encourage people in the Cemetery Road area in particular to be mindful of their speed, in addition to those in other parts of town. Especially congested areas with a lot of children at play.
“Spring time is coming up. Spring break is coming up. Weather is getting warmer. People are going to start getting more active and moving about on foot. We just need to pay attention to pedestrians out there,” he added.
Williamsburg Fire and Rescue also assisted at the scene.
Police are not releasing the name of the child.