Severed cable impairs 911 service in 5 counties


Christmas Day has never been the same for Kim Copenhaver Ramirez, of Mission Valley, after a fatal crash that occurred more than 16 years ago.

"It's so dangerous for anybody to be on that street," Ramirez said. "He was in a wheelchair. If there was a sidewalk, he wouldn't have been hit."

In front of what is now Frances Marie's Restaurant and Cantina, Ramirez's brother, Edward "Eddie" Copenhaver, was killed in the vacant lot at age 38 in a hit-and-run accident while returning home after midnight from a Christmas event.

Late Sunday, another Victoria resident was crossing Rio Grande Street when he was fatally struck by a vehicle. The death of Encarnacion Munoz, 67, occurred while Victoria officials are trying to improve pedestrian safety along city streets.

"There was no sidewalk where he (Copenhaver) was hit at the time," Ramirez said. "If we can't do justice for him, maybe we can fight."

Her brother had no other options for transportation, she said.

Law enforcement never identified who hit Copenhaver; however, the family believes it was a teenager traveling with relatives.

"Why can't there by a major crosswalk with blinking lights?" she asked.

More areas for crossing, properly marked roads and brighter street lights would create a safer atmosphere for pedestrians, she said.

The Metropolitan Planning Organization is conducting surveys to get public feedback as it requests federal funding through the Texas Department of Transportation for pedestrian improvements along two key corridors: Navarro Street and Houston Highway.

Traffic counts on some sections of U.S. 59 Business, or Rio Grande Street, are about 22,000 vehicles a day, said Diane Dohm, MPO coordinator for Victoria.

Sidewalks, visible crosswalks and curb ramps could be created because of the project, she said.

Adding audio components to crosswalks would bring the crosswalks into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act standards, she said.

Vision Zero is a national movement cities in Texas have put together that emphasizes zero fatalities on roadways, she said.

An educational campaign between TxDOT, the city and the Victoria Police Department could be created to reach the goal, she said.

Speed factors into fatalities, a fact she wants the public to understand, she said. Research shows two out of 10 people who are struck by a car moving at 40 mph will survive.

"Pedestrians are so vulnerable on the road," she said.

The distance between crosswalks also creates difficulty, she said.

"Look at the driver and make sure they see you," she said. "If you are unable to make that contact, just wait. Your life is not worth it."

Creating a complete network for pedestrians will provide a safer environment, she said.

Pedestrians still have the right of way in unmarked crosswalks, she said.

Jaywalking has negative connotations, she said.

"Blame is automatically placed on the pedestrian," she said. "I think that can be really hurtful for the family, especially, of the person who lost their life."

Surveys on where the problems are and what solutions can be made would create a road map, she said.

"I feel so sad anybody dies on our streets because that shouldn't happen," she said. "No one should die on our streets."

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Education reporter

Gabriella Canales graduated from the University of Houston-Victoria with a B.A. in English in 2016. Feel free to contact her with ideas because she is eager to tell stories.

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