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Pedestrian Killed By Motorist The Grove Two Years Today

July 4, 2013 Crime, Featured, Transportation 18 Comments

Two years ago today the lives of two young men, John Foster Courtney & Justin  Kramarczyk, were forever altered. Foster was struck by a vehicle allegedly driven by Kramarczyk as he walked across Manchester Rd. Foster died of his injuries, Kramarczyk is still awaiting trial.

Courtney was crossing Manchester Rd at this point when struck
Courtney was crossing Manchester Rd at this point when struck

July 5th, 2011:

A St. Louis man was charged today in a hit-and-run crash early Monday in the city’s Grove neighborhood.

Justin Kramarczyk, 24, of the 1600 block of Washington Avenue, was charged with a felony count of leaving the scene of an accident. Police said additional charges may be pending in the case.

John Foster Courtney, 29, was struck at about 12:30 a.m. Monday as he crossed the street in the 4100 block of Manchester Avenue, in the Grove entertainment district. He died at a hospital at about 11:30 p.m. Monday. (stltoday)

September 7, 2011:

A St. Louis man accused in a fatal hit and run accident on the Fourth of July has been arraigned on more serious manslaughter charges, and ordered by the court to provide access to his cell phone which police confiscated as evidence in the case.

25 year old Justin Kramarczyk was originally charged with leaving the scene of an accident in the death of John Foster Courtney of south St. Louis. The St. Louis Grand Jury indicted Kramarczyk on the more serious felony of involuntary manslaughter last month.

He pleaded not guilty to the upgaded [sic] charge on Tuesday. (KSDK)

On July 6th I saved everything I could find online about both men. A couple of items from Kramarczyk’s public Facebook timeline, since removed, stood out to me as I read it again recently:

Eight days before
Eight days before
Three days before
Three days before

Alcohol is a huge problem in the gay community. Perhaps Courtney was too drunk to realize he shouldn’t cross the street? Perhaps Kramarczyk was too drunk to be driving that night? Or both…

I Couldn’t find anything about the charges against Kramarczyk after the September 2011 article  above so I asked Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce, she replied:

“Our records show it is currently set for trial on August 5th. However, this does not mean there will actually be a trial on that date. The case is pretty old, so I would expect a disposition of some kind in the near future.”

Pretty old is right! I’m sure everyone would like to see closure. It’s important to remember these types of “accidents” happen around all areas with bars and busy streets, here’s a 2012 example:

A car that police suspect was involved in a fatal hit-and-run outside Broadway Oyster Bar downtown was found in Madison, Ill., police confirmed Saturday.

(snip)

Amber Wood, 23, of the 2700 block of Accomac Street, was hit and killed while crossing the street about 1:50 a.m. Friday by a car speeding south in the 700 block of South Broadway near Gratiot Street, police said. (stltoday)

I just don’t know how to keep people from crossing streets mid-block.

— Steve Patterson

 

Currently there are "18 comments" on this Article:

  1. JZ71 says:

    You can’t! (keep people from crossing streets mid-block). And even if the victim had been crossing in a marked crosswalk, there is no guarantee that he would have been any safer – paint is not kryptonite! In your example, there are many potential “solutions”, most not very practical. Ban on-street parking (to improve sight lines). Ban vehicles from popular party areas (like the Grove and Washington Avenue). Build a barrier along the sidewalk (like along the strip in Las Vegas, to channel pedestrians to designated crossing points). Ban alcohol and/or bars. Have a cop stationed every 100′ (to remind us of and to enforce all laws). Have random, roving breathalyzer checkpoints for both pedestrians and motorists. Increase penalties for all crimes (and build more prisons).

    Everyone involved were/are adults. In your example, as in most every other “accident”/crash, one or more people made poor choices – drinking to excess, driving while impaired, walking while impaired, inattention, failure to follow all existing laws, etc, etc. – it’s called personal choice and personal responsibility. While there are many things that we can and should do to minimize risk in the built environment, I don’t think any one of us wants to live in a perfectly “safe”, sanitized bubble. Every day, every one of us take calculated risks, and 99%+ of the time, there are no significant negative consequences. But when there are, do we want the government to step in and further “protect” us? Or are we adult enough to say, “Hey, I screwed up”, leave it at that and pay for the consequences? “Bars and busy streets” go together because most people aren’t satisfied with just their corner bar (within walking / crawling distance of home) and most people (justifiably) don’t want a nightly, drunken, party scene in the their backyard or outside their bedroom window.

     
    • Eric says:

      I believe the Esquire Theater in Richmond Heights has a barrier separating it from Clayton Road. But you can’t do that everywhere where you think a higher than average number of people might congregate.

      Some cities have special night buses serving nightclubs and other entertainment locations. Part of the justification given is that it will reduce drunk driving. But I don’t know if STL has the density and ridership to support that.

      Of course hopefully self-driving cars will take care of this problem once and for all.

       
      • JZ71 says:

        Assuming you’re not too drunk to program your destination . . . .

         
      • JZ71 says:

        Assuming you’re not too drunk to program your destination . . . .

         
        • Eric says:

          So then you get lost, but you don’t kill anyone.

          I wouldn’t be surprised if a “take me home” button ends up being an available feature…

           
          • JZ71 says:

            Definitely would help if you’re the driver or passenger, but won’t do much to protect drunken pedestrians. It doesn’t matter if you’re a sober driver or a super computer, if you/someone stumbles out from between parked cars, the laws of physics and reaction times limit what anyone or anything can do to avoid contact . . . .

             
          • Eric says:

            True, but even so, computers will have a faster reaction time than even a sober human.

             
      • Last week the boyfriend and I went to a gay bar in the Grove for drinks, plural. We took the bus since we knew he wouldn’t be in a position to drive us home. Once we get another car I’ll be on the insurance so I’ll be our designated driver. In the meantime, we take the bus when he drinks. Or we go somewhere near our loft.

         
    • Eric says:

      I believe the Esquire Theater in Richmond Heights has a barrier separating it from Clayton Road. But you can’t do that everywhere where you think a higher than average number of people might congregate.

      Some cities have special night buses serving nightclubs and other entertainment locations. Part of the justification given is that it will reduce drunk driving. But I don’t know if STL has the density and ridership to support that.

      Of course hopefully self-driving cars will take care of this problem once and for all.

       
  2. moe says:

    Alcohol is a huge problem for the straight community too! It is not limited to the gay community. “Sounds like the beginning of a typical day for you”….perhaps the answer lies right there. Can we say drinking problem???

     
    • Unfortunately, rates of substance abuse are substantially higher in the LGBT community.

       
      • JZ71 says:

        If higher rates of substance abuse are at the core of the problem (http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/lgbt/report/2012/03/09/11228/why-the-gay-and-transgender-population-experiences-higher-rates-of-substance-use/ . .), shouldn’t we be addressing that first, instead of focusing on localized changes to the built environment to “protect people from themselves”? Or, to put it another way, by creating a “safer” environment in which to both use and abuse alcohol, aren’t we just encouraging its use and abuse? While I can certainly understand why many gays use alcohol and other drugs to cope with discrimination and prejudice, doesn’t it all still boil down to personal responsibility?

         
        • Eric says:

          As with most criminal issues, the individuals involved have to take responsibility, but at the same time we have to make sure that whatever stupid or evil people are out there do a minimum of damage.

           
        • Yes and no. We know human nature and we can make smart design decisions to reduce damage. For example, we don’t put outlets or switches where they can be reached from the shower. By your logic we should still do that and blame a lack of personal responsibility when someone gets electrocuted.

           
          • moe says:

            I still believe that it is a lack of personal responsibility when your friends and relatives know you drink too much (“typical day”). This wasn’t some reaching out of the shower and touching an outlet, this was intense drinking by both over the course of a few hours with plenty of witnesses and worse, bartenders that still thought nothing of it to serve them. Not only is that irresponsible, it shows a lack of training and is illegal. There were plenty of opportunities to prevent this accident and there will always be people dodging in and out of cars, hence the ‘children at play’ signs. Perhaps we should put up ‘caution: drunks ahead’ signs. Bottom line, there will always be accidents and stupid acts just like all the designing in the world won’t prevent some idiot from plugging in an extension cord and taking a hair dryer into the shower.

             
      • JZ71 says:

        If higher rates of substance abuse are at the core of the problem (http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/lgbt/report/2012/03/09/11228/why-the-gay-and-transgender-population-experiences-higher-rates-of-substance-use/ . .), shouldn’t we be addressing that first, instead of focusing on localized changes to the built environment to “protect people from themselves”? Or, to put it another way, by creating a “safer” environment in which to both use and abuse alcohol, aren’t we just encouraging its use and abuse? While I can certainly understand why many gays use alcohol and other drugs to cope with discrimination and prejudice, doesn’t it all still boil down to personal responsibility?

         
    • Unfortunately, rates of substance abuse are substantially higher in the LGBT community.

       
  3. moe says:

    Alcohol is a huge problem for the straight community too! It is not limited to the gay community. “Sounds like the beginning of a typical day for you”….perhaps the answer lies right there. Can we say drinking problem???

     

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