Jun
17

Not To Be Repeated

By

My thoughts are with Mr. Gilmore’s friends and family tonight. I’m deeply sorry for your loss.

From the Asheville Police Department’s website:

ASHEVILLE – Police are investigating a traffic fatality involving a vehicle and a pedestrian that occurred at about 9:30 p.m. June 16 at I-240 westbound just west of the U.S. 19/23/Future I-26 split.

A pedestrian, Anthony Ray Gilmore, birth date 5/27/1985, of Swannanoa, was running across the interstate toward Hillcrest Apartments when he was struck by a 2002 Chevy Cavalier traveling westbound in the far right lane. The driver was Jonathan Hassenzahl, birth date 7/3/1987, of Asheville.

Mr. Gilmore was deceased at the scene. There are no charges pending against the driver at this time. Investigators will confer with the Buncombe County District Attorney’s Office for a final decision.

We’ve all seen people run across the highway where Mr. Gilmore died. The pedestrian bridge over I-240 from Hillcrest Apartments has been closed for sixteen years.

Public Information Officer Dawa Hitch spoke with Russ Bowen of WLOS earlier today. She later distributed an email to share that information:

“Russ Bowen with WLOS called me to find out if the bridge was still closed. I shared with him that, at the request of Council, NCDOT closed the pedestrian bridge in 1994.

Council’s request to have the pedestrian bridge closed was based on feedback from residents of Hillcrest Apartments and the Housing Authority as it was felt the pedestrian bridge played a significant roll in drug trafficking within the apartment complex.Mr. Bowen asked if the city would look into reopening the bridge. I stated Council would need to decide to revisit the original request to NCDOT. He mentioned this may be something residents should bring before Council again given the fatality.

I directed Mr. Bowen to the following minutes for additional information: April 8, 1998 and May 5, 1998.”

I’m going to listen to neighborhood residents and the police department in order to make an informed decision, but my initial reaction is that we’ve got to give Hillcrest residents a direct route downtown.

We also need an I-26 Connector that will rejoin Hillcrest to downtown in a permanent and meaningful way. Isolating neighborhoods doesn’t make things better.

I’d like to hear your thoughts, reflections, and suggestions.


Categories : Local

Comments

  1. Gordon Smith says:

    Jason posted at Ashvegas:

    Here’s some history, from a 1999 Citizen-Times story by Paul Clark:

    City Council voted 4-3 on June 9 not to reopen the closed pedestrian walkway. Some residents began pushing for the bridge after a man died trying to cross the highway in February 1998. He was the second pedestrian to be killed on I-240 near the housing complex since the walkway was closed in 1994.

    The bridge was built to deliver walkers safely to Roberts Street, where they would walk to downtown. Police sought the bridge’s closure because, they said, suspects could slip out over it during drug raids.

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  2. Crass says:

    Another indirect victim of the War on Some Drugs?

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  3. John says:

    Open it. It’s an apartment complex. Not a prison…

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  4. Bill Rhodes says:

    This is the 3rd pedestrian fatality this year in this area. I wonder how many there have been in 14 years?

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  5. Tom Buckner says:

    I didn’t know about any of this.

    Fuck. Fuuuuuuck.

    Recommended reading!
    Drug Warriors and Their Prey: From Police Power to Police State by Richard Lawrence Miller

    Ain’t Nobody’s Business If You Do by Peter McWilliams (you can read the whole thing on that site, it looks like, and then read what the DEA did to him for writing that book.

    Did you know that Oliver North’s efforts to fund the contra war against Nicaragua included bringing crack into the United States?

    And: ask yourself how much of that Gulf oil could be replaced by hemp?

    I could rant about this all night long. Free country? Basta!

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  6. Tom Buckner says:

    On the other hand, maybe I’m a fool for trying to sway anyone through logic of the head. Maybe better to offer the logic of soul.

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  7. Gordon Smith says:

    I received this in my email inbox. Republished with the author’s permission:

    Hello,

    This is in reference to the young man who was killed on 240 last night trying to cross. I had the unfortunate event of driving by right after this had taken place. I saw as the paramedic pulled the sheet over the young man’s dead body. Regardless of if the police department thinks keeping the bridge close would somehow solve the crime coming from the neighborhood, it also has contributed to several deaths. I’m originally from Memphis and I have seen cities close off pedestrian bridges to keep the crime contained. In every case it only accelerates segregation and causes more harm. I myself have almost ran over several people walking from downtown the Hillcrest apartments at night. There is absolutely no other easier way of getting there besides running across the interstate. Some people don’t have the luxury that we have to own cars…

    PLEASE OPEN UP THE BRIDGE AND SAVE LIVES!!

    I don’t want to have to see what I saw again…

    Thank You,
    Lindsay Reed

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  8. I’ve always questioned the closure of the bridge as it does create a problem regarding pedestrian traffic from and to Hillcrest. It also seems to me the logic that the brige could be an escape route during drug raids doesn’t hold water as, in a tactical sense, the bridge would become a funnel for anyone trying to escape a drug raid, making their capture an easy thing on the far side of the bridge.

    Open the bridge.

    Thanks,

    Ronnie

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  9. Bruce Mulkey says:

    Thanks for bringing this tragedy to our attention, Gordon. The pedestrian bridge needs to be opened at the earliest possible date. Please let us know how we can support you in this.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 3

  10. Dixiegirl says:

    Can there be any more flawed thinking than this? Closing down a pedestrian bridge so drug distirbutors cannot pass through is putting a band aid on a melanoma.

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  11. virginiacreeper says:

    We also drove by right at the time they covered up the body. All 3 of my children saw it. My heart goes out to the man’s family but also to the poor guy who hit him-it will surely haunt him the rest of his life.

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  12. Mayberry is right says:

    Where are you getting your 3 fatalities number from, Bill? I know of 2 in all the years since that bridge was closed, and that includes Anthony Gilmore.

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  13. Bill Rhodes says:

    well, there was a guy who walked into the side of a truck in March, and another one in Jan, and now this one… makes 3 to me

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  14. Mayberry is right says:

    http://oldweb.ashevillenc.gov/minutes/1990/m980505.htm

    HILLCREST COMMUNITY MEETING

    At 6:00 p.m., City Council held a community meeting at the Carl Johnson Hillcrest Community Center. Mayor Sitnick said that the Asheville City Council wanted to meet with the residents of the Hillcrest Apartments to discuss the status of the pedestrian walkover bridge. She then gave the following brief background on this issue as the City Council understands it.

    In November 1994 at the request of the residents of Hillcrest, the Housing Authority and the City of Asheville, the Hillcrest pedestrian walkover bridge was closed by the North Carolina Department of Transportation (“NC DOT”). The reason for the closure, as requested by the residents of Hillcrest, was to prevent the walkover bridge from being used as an entrance by drug dealers into the Hillcrest neighborhood. With the closure of the bridge, walk-in, street-level drug transactions on the south end of the complex were all but eliminated. Many people feel closure played a large part in helping stem the flow of drug sales in the development. With the recent pedestrian fatality, as a result of an individual attempting to cross I-240 going into Hillcrest, the Housing Authority and the Asheville Police Department met with the residents’ association of Hillcrest Apartments to reconsider the bridge closing. The residents’ association agreed to survey the residents of the community to determine what their opinion would be regarding reopening the bridge.

    She said that the City does not control the entrance or exit to the walkover bridge, nor does it maintain Interstate Highway I-240. This is the responsibility of NCDOT. City Council, however, can make recommendations to NCDOT concerning such issues.

    The Hillcrest Apartments are owned and managed by the Housing Authority, a separate legal entity from the City and Council would also like to hear from this agency concerning the pedestrian walk over.

    Comments from the public in favor of re-opening the bridge included the convenience of family members and residents; need for two ways in and out of the Complex; some people don’t have cars or other transportation and need they need to be able to walk; closing the bridge has not stopped the flow of drugs but it has curbed it; and opening the bridge would save lives in that people would not have to try to cross I-240.

    Comments from the public in favor of keeping the bridge closed included people have been killed in that area before the bridge was closed so why use that as an excuse to re-open it now; keeping the bridge closed is a way to curb drugs; with the bridge closed, it provides for a -10-

    safe community; children are not safe if the bridge is reopened in that drug needles, etc., are found lying on the ground; unsupervised children will cross the bridge; there is a way in and out of the Complex; Clingman Avenue is sometimes just as bad as the Interstate traffic; surveillance cameras cost money; adults should not complain about being inconvenienced by the bridge closing if it will protect the children; if the bridge is re-opened, it will make it easier for people to vandalize apartments (especially apartments near the bridge) and then flee over the bridge; people still jumped the fence when the bridge was open; you can see a noticeable difference in the area since the bridge has been closed; and if the bridge is re-opened, residents will need to be committed to clean up their own yards and participate in a citizen-on-patrol program.

    Suggestions included a monitoring of the bridge, patrolling the bridge, employ youth who are trained and paid to keep a portion of their area clean; opening the bridge up only during daylight hours; have a gate with a punch-code; and purchase a guardhouse with each group (Residents Association, NC DOT, City of Asheville and Housing Authority) contributing money for the guardhouse and then hire a private security guard.

    Mr. Michael Godwin, representative of the Housing Authority, said that they are ready to support whatever the residents want to do. He noted that a survey taken revealed the residents suggested re-opening the bridge for a six month trial period.

    Police Chief Will Annarino said that the Asheville Police Department will continue to work with the community if the bridge is re-opened or kept closed. If the bridge is re-opened, they will try to come up with other solutions to try to curb drugs in the Complex.

    Upon inquiry of Councilwoman Field, Police Chief Annarino said that the person that was most recently killed on I-240 was legally intoxicated.

    Mayor Sitnick said that with the upcoming I-26 Corridor project, there will be construction, more dirt, more noise and more activity in that area. As we work on concerns and solutions, she felt the NC DOT needs to be involved in the dialogue from the very beginning. She felt they will need to work with the City on some solutions.

    It was the consensus of the residents present that children should be supervised and taught to go to a responsible adult when they find drugs, drug needles, etc. Perhaps someone from the AIDS Project could come in and do a program for the children.

    Mayor Sitnick said that this is a multi-faceted community problem and needs to be addressed with the community working with the NC DOT, the Housing Authority and the City to secure the Complex and still provide proper safe access. She suggested a summary be created of concerns raised and potential solutions and be presented to City Council as soon as possible.

    Mr. Godwin said the Housing Authority would be happy to work with the residents and the Police Department to come up with some alternatives.

    At 7:20 p.m., Mayor Sitnick adjourned the meeting until 7:40 p.m. in Room 209 of the City Hall Building to conduct a closed session.

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  15. Tom Buckner says:

    The residents of Hillcrest REQUESTED the closure?

    ??????????????????????????

    Have we hard evidence of this?

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