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ISU graduate student killed in pedestrian accident near campus

Illinois State University Police Chief Aaron Woodruff says several intersections along College Avenue are high-risk due to high volumes of vehicle and pedestrian traffic.

An Illinois State University graduate student was identified Wednesday as the pedestrian who was killed in an accident near the ISU campus.

Danielle Fairchild, 23, of Normal, died of her injuries on Tuesday, according to McLean County Coroner Kathy Yoder. Fairchild was struck by a car Monday evening at the intersection of College Avenue and Kingsley Street in Normal.

Normal Police Chief Rick Bleichner said the driver was issued a ticket for failure to stop and yield right of way to a pedestrian in a crosswalk.

University officials confirmed Fairchild was a student at ISU; she was a first-year graduate student in its nutrition and dietetic internship programs.

Julie Schumacher, director of the dietetic internship program, also was Fairchild's professor.

"Danielle had a love for visual creativity, and she wanted to combine that with her passion for nutrition," she said.

Schumacher said Fairchild wanted to become a professor and planned to pursue food art therapy, making food visually appealing and understanding how that affects emotion.

“She had such empathy and creativity," she said.

ISU President Terri Goss Kinzy issued a statement to the university community extending condolences to Fairchild’s family, friends and loved ones. She added the university has counselors available.

Pedestrian safety

ISU police chief Aaron Woodruff said the intersection where Fairchild was struck is one of several high-risk areas near campus.

“(The) Main Street corridor there south of College (Avenue) has become much more challenging as new apartment complexes have been built west of there, so we are seeing a lot more pedestrian traffic crossing Main,” Woodruff said.

He also named intersections at College and University Street, and College and School Street as problem areas. “College and University is especially difficult, especially around 3 o’clock in the afternoon when (Thomas) Metcalf (School) is letting out. College and School street is another (problem) intersection,” he said. “We had a student that was hit there a couple months ago.”

Generally speaking, Woodruff said distractions like cell phones make the roadways less safe for everyone.

“For drivers, we have the same issue, we have way too many drivers on their cell phones and it only takes a second looking down for you to miss somebody in a crosswalk in front of you,” Woodruff said.

Fairchild is the third pedestrian to die in a McLean County traffic accident in three months. A Bloomington man died in September after he was struck, allegedly by a drunken driver. Also in early September, a Lexington woman was killed after she reportedly tried to cross Interstate 55 on foot.

The McLean County Regional Planning Commission launched a Go Safe McLean County campaign last summer to eliminate fatal traffic crashes. A major theme of the campaign is for drivers to slow down, particularly near intersections.

The U.S. Department of Transportation recently awarded a grant to study ways to make one of Bloomington-Normal’s busiest roadways, Veterans Parkway, safer for pedestrians and bicyclists.

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Eric Stock is the News Director at WGLT. You can contact Eric at ejstoc1@ilstu.edu.
Sarah Nardi is a WGLT reporter. She previously worked for the Chicago Reader covering Arts & Culture.
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