We have video from the start of the Maui Marathon last month. Thanks to Hawaii News Now, we have excellent video showing exactly what happens when parties responsible for the prevention of vehicle/pedestrian incidents at public events fail to take into account how quickly things can go very wrong. In this case, a bystander was hit and dragged thirty feet when a drunk driver turned down the street and into the crowd at the start line.
See the report and watch the video HERE.
So here is the essential question: who IS responsible for protecting hundreds of runners and bystanders from vehicles suddenly appearing and driving though dozens of people? Is it the city? Is it race organizers? In Austin Texas, the Police Chief said that they had done a good job of protecting the public for 23 years at this event, and that the death of four and maiming of almost twenty was just a fluke. In an eerie echo of that sentiment, we have the comments of the race organizer of the Maui Marathon as quoted in the Hawaii News Now article:
"It was not something, as a race director, you prepare for. It was very disappointing to see something like that happen," said Race Director Rudy Huber.
Now I have no more information than anyone else who read the article and watched the video. But I do know this -- someone who was trained and experienced should have looked over the planning for the race and reviewed the site personally to make sure that any avenue of vehicle traffic that pointed a wayward driver straight at innocent people needed to be blocked off. And not with a sign, or an orange cone, or yellow caution tape. Should that have been the race director? Or city official? Or the police department? I do not know in this case who should have done it, but it is clear than NO ONE TRAINED IN PEDESTRIAN SAFETY MEASURES took responsibility for the safety of every person in that crowd. Everyone assumed it was safe...and we can see the result. If that car was going 10 MPH faster, the whole story might be very very different.
If you put on events that involve street closings, or large numbers of pedestrians present in unprotected areas -- PLEASE ASK FOR HELP. If you are a city and have ultimate liability for any incidents -- PLEASE TAKE ALL NECESSARY MEASURES and ask for help. Every year there are dozens of incidents where "this is how we have done this for years" has failed tragically.
As Sarah Goodyear reported on the Austin tragedy, "We are shamefully bad at protecting pedestrians at events like South By Southwest." And apparently, in a beautiful peaceful place like Maui.