Update: Woman Pleads Guilty After Hitting Crossing Guard

GRAND ISLAND, Neb. -- The Grand Island woman who hit a crossing guard last month made her plea in court. 38-year-old Sandra Angeles-Sandate pleaded guilty Wednesday to not having a drivers license and careless driving.

Police say she hit a crossing guard outside of Walnut Middle School in August as students were arriving for the day. Her sentencing is scheduled for October 31st.

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School safety officials say it's a rare occurrence, but the last week saw a crossing guard and a student hit by cars outside of Grand Island schools.

A student was hit by a car in the crosswalk at Westridge Middle School Tuesday, and thankfully a Grand Island Public Schools official believes she is okay. But this serves as a reminder of how dangerous crosswalks can be, especially before and after school.

Thousands of children cross streets everyday in Grand Island to get to school, and to keep them all safe the school continuously updates their crosswalk policies.

"If there's an issue the crossing guards or administrators will get a hold of me and we will look at and review what we're doing and if there's something that we can do better we will take action in that regard," said GIPS School Safety Monitor Rick Ressel.

With two people hit in one week, GIPS is working with police to prevent more problems.

Grand Island Police Officer Wes Tjaden said, "The school resource officers and the Special Operations Unit are working on some school speed zone enforcements and we're also working on some crosswalk enforcement."

Ressel said no two schools are the same, meaning each has it's own crosswalk safety measures.

He said, "We develop different strategies at different buildings based upon how big their pickup/drop off area is on site, based upon how much traffic we have on the street in the area. It's an ongoing process where we assess what the needs are for each school."

Some of the options the school system uses are crossing guards, traffic lights, or updating parking areas to make them safer in general.

Police officers are also on the lookout for distracted or speeding drivers.

"There is a city ordinance and a state statute that vehicles must yield right of way to pedestrians in marked crosswalks," Officer Tjaden said. "If they fail to yield there's a very high potential of citations or referrals for charges."

According to police and the school district it's not just the responsibility of the drivers to make sure that the people in the crosswalk are safe.

"I would encourage students and parents to use a designated school crossing area because in those particular areas, motorists are more accustomed to seeing pedestrian traffic in that area," said Ressel.

Crossing guard Sharon Guzinski, who was hit last week, said she sees people not in crosswalks many times. She also sees cars stopping in crosswalks or kids getting out of cars dangerously.

She said it's her job to help prevent that.

Officer Tjaden said, "Children often times don't make the best decisions. They don't always have the best time perception to tell how far and how fast that car is and I think that the adult crossing guards that we have working here are the best option just because they can kind of control some of that."

Guzinski returned to work Wednesday after being hit the previous Friday. She said of the incident she thought she was going to die. She hurt her leg and has bruising on her head from where she bumped it on the hood. Doctors have told her if she develops headaches go to the Emergency Room because it could mean something serious.

Guzinski was nervous on her first morning back, but Ressel, who oversees crossing guards, did the job with her, making her first day back much easier.


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