Henry Avenue car crash sends two to the hospital one week after City Hall traffic safety meeting

Henry Avenue was reduced to two lanes of traffic on Tuesday evening as motorists negotiated wreckage resulting from a three-car accident that took place during evening rush hour.

Shortly after 5 p.m., a gray Ford Taurus sedan heading southbound struck a maroon Ford pickup at the entrance to Philadelphia University’s Gallagher Athletic Center, just north of the intersection of Henry Avenue and School House Lane. As a result of the impact, the Ford pickup collided into a white sedan.

Officers from the 5th Police District and firefighters from Engine 35 in East Falls responded to the incident. Supervising personnel were unable to comment on the collision.

The driver and passenger of the Taurus, one of whom was observed to be removed via stretcher, were overheard as being taken to Temple University hospital.

Witness account 

East Falls resident Joe Pasquarello witnessed the accident while seated in his Ford Windstar.

“He came alongside of me,” said Pasquarello, in reference to the driver of the Ford Taurus, “and then, plow!”

Pasquarello had just been hit by the gray Taurus only moments beforehand, while stopped at the intersection of Henry Avenue and Hermit Lane.

He said he got out of his van and surveyed the damage to his vehicle. With no injuries, and noting no visible evidence of the crash, he exchanged insurance information with the driver of the Taurus and left the scene.

Pasquarello wasn’t too shaken up by the ordeal.

“As long as I’m not hurt, I don’t care,” he said, but indicated that he’ll be taking in his Windstar tomorrow for a full inspection.

How many accidents will it take? 

This accident comes on the heels of a meeting held at City Hall last week, in which civic leaders and officials from city and state agencies met to continue efforts to address traffic safety concerns along the Henry Avenue corridor.

At the behest of members of the East Falls Community Council, representatives of the Streets Deptartment and Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) were present, as were members of city and state government. Captains from respective Philadelphia Police Department districts declined participation.

Asked for her recollections of the meeting, Meg Greenfield, EFCC 1st Vice-President and member of the East Falls Traffic committee, said that the meeting was the result of an ongoing conversation about traffic safety along the Henry Avenue corridor, which took on a new level of visibility in February following a fatal collision.

State Representative Pam DeLissio of the 194th District said that she felt there were three take-aways from the meeting.

The first, she explained, is that funding for a PennDOT-managed assessment and improvement of Henry Avenue traffic is already in place, which should mitigate delays in its implementation.

Second, she noted that the 2015 implementation date for PennDOT’s findings is, to some degree, flexible, and with sufficient community-driven interest the date could be “pushed up,” in her words.

Lastly, related DeLissio, was the failure of PPD leadership to attend. “Speeding and running red lights are a law enforcement issue,” she said. “They’re an integral part of the conversation, and they were missing in action.”

Captain Verdell Johnson, Commanding Officer of the 39th Police District, said that he was not made aware of the meeting until after the fact.

Johnson said that while dedicated traffic enforcement typically falls under the aegis of the Traffic Division, he is continuing his efforts to secure speed timing equipment and training for 39th District officers.

Asked for her next actions, DeLissio said that she is researching the legislation surrounding red light cameras, one of which is currently installed at the intersection of Henry Avenue and Walnut Lane. The supporting legislation is set to expire at the end of June.

Conversations continue

Owing to concurrent budget hearings, 4th District Councilman Curtis Jones, Jr. was only available to attend a portion of the May 14 meeting. Facilitating the meeting in his absence was Joshua Cohen, special assistant to Jones.

Cohen noted that in addition to PennDOT’s study, the Streets Deptartment is working on adjusting the timings of traffic signals located along Henry Avenue, which, according to DeLissio, are slated to go into effect in June.

Cohen noted that while it’s too soon to see results of the work accomplished thus far, he reaffirmed the Councilman’s commitment to traffic safety, and said that a follow-up meeting will be scheduled for mid-summer.

While lamenting the occurrence of yet another traffic accident in her neighborhood, Greenfield remained optimistic about the potential for meaningful change.

“The fact that we are having conversations is encouraging,” she said of the meeting.

NewsWorks will continue to follow this story as more information becomes available. 

Editor’s note: This piece was revised to include a response from Captain Johnson who was not immediately available to comment on Tuesday night. 

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