By: Camila Marquez
On the night of December 3rd, two pedestrians (25-year-old Giovanni Vega Benis and 25-year-old Yuliana Arias Lozano) were struck by a speeding 2022 Mercedes while walking across a crosswalk on Washington Boulevard after working at a Stamford restaurant.
The driver, Michael Talbot, had struck the two pedestrians and fled the scene, abandoning his totaled car. He was found behind a dumpster by the Stamford Police and was taken into custody. The suspects were transported to the Stamford hospital, where they both died. It was said that the force of the crash was so violent that it flung the two victims into the northbound lane.
The news shocked many Stamford residents and left many heartbroken, especially impacting the Hispanic community. Many Hispanic community members gathered to peacefully rally for justice for Giovanni and Yuliana, as it had been nearly a month since the crash and no charges had been placed. “They deserve justice. Yoilana recently came to this country for a better life, and Giovani had two kids, it’s heartbreaking that this was how their lives were taken,” said Soraya Hernandez, a Senior at Westhill High School.
Talbot was arrested in early January. He had multiple warrants and he was found in Florida visiting family. He was arrested and charged with two counts of 2nd-degree manslaughter, two counts of 2nd-degree manslaughter with a motor vehicle, two counts of felony evading responsibility, operating under the influence, and reckless operation of a motor vehicle.
Unfortunately, this is not the first pedestrian accident in Stamford recently. Many other incidents have happened over the years, especially more recently. Each time these accidents bring the same question to many people’s minds, is Stamford pedestrian safe?
Many Stamford residents have come forward and mentioned their thoughts about safety in Stamford. “With all the recent accidents, it’s changed how I view Stamford. I feel unsafe as a pedestrian, it’s unfortunate,” said Westhill Junior, Zachary Price. After hearing the perspectives of many repeated pedestrian tragedies, Stamford has decided to enforce the “Greyrock and Forest Pedestrian Safety Pilot Project.” Greyrock and Forest are some of the most pedestrian-heavy streets, so the idea they had was to enforce smaller additions to those streets to see how they help impact pedestrian safety. Adding speed bumps, shortened crossing distances, and slower car speeds are all ways of intervention that the city of Stamford has enforced to see which works best at protecting the lives of pedestrians.
It is incredibly saddening that it had taken a multitude of pedestrian casualties to cause Stamford to begin taking action, and many have expressed their frustration toward the situations at hand. Many Stamford residents have been personally impacted due to this issue at hand, and many have begun to speak up and ask for a change. Stamford is beginning to implement changes to improve its pedestrian safety, as well as holding motorists responsible when they put pedestrians at risk.