A 10-year-old boy killed while crossing a street on his way to school Monday morning left his Mendenhall Valley campus in "sadness and shock," the principal said.
Skyler Lee Kim was a popular and friendly fifth-grader, said Glacier Valley Elementary School Principal Ted Wilson. "He was friends with anyone and everyone."
Police believe that shortly after 7 a.m., Kim attempted to ride his bike against a red light from the southwest corner of the Mendenhall Loop Road and Stephen Richards Memorial Drive intersection, Police Sgt. David Campbell said. Kim was hit by a Ford F350 crew cab pickup, police said. Police and Capital City Fire and Rescue crews responded to the call and found the child unconscious, bleeding and not breathing.
Campbell said Kim was taken to Bartlett Regional Hospital with severe head injuries. Police shut down the intersection, re-routing traffic to side streets until about 9 a.m.
Calvin Crumrine, the stepfather of Kim's mother, said the boy was pronounced dead 45 minutes after the accident and may have been dead at the scene. He said Kim lived in the Sprucewood Trailer Park, within two blocks of the intersection.
An independent witness interviewed by police said the pickup had a green light, which changed to yellow as it entered the intersection, Campbell said. The driver was unable to stop, police said.
"The kid unfortunately made a bad decision and paid the ultimate consequence," Campbell said.
He reported that Kim was not wearing a helmet.
"He did have one," Crumrine said. "We found it at home. He was supposed to be wearing it."
Kim is the second person in less than three months fatally injured at the intersection.
Paulette Alden, 49, was pronounced dead on arrival at Bartlett Regional Hospital after her 1991 Ford Escort collided with a dump truck July 22. Investigation results from that accident have been sent to the district attorney's office for a review of possible charges, Juneau Police Lt. Walt Boman said Monday.
Arlene Crumrine, Kim's maternal grandmother, said Alden was a friend of hers.
"I hate that intersection," she said. "I always have."
She said she believes it should be a school zone, with flashing yellow lights telling people to slow down to 20 mph.
There is a nearby footbridge over Mendenhall Loop Road, but it isn't available to kids riding bikes, she said.
"It's so senseless," she said. "I don't blame the driver. From what we understand, he was just there."
Police Sgt. David Campbell said he doesn't anticipate any charges against the driver, although the accident remains under investigation. Police did not release the driver's name.
"He did nothing wrong from our standpoint," Campbell said. He added that the driver and the emergency crews were shaken up at the scene.
"God, we're going to miss him," Kim's grandmother said.
As darkness fell Monday night, dozens of flowers, candles, teddy bears and notes lined the walkway south of the crosswalk.
There were plenty of tears at Kim's school Monday, Wilson said. Word went around in the morning that there had been an accident. Each class was notified individually that Kim had died.
"We talked to the staff and we'll also be talking to the students," he said. All of the school district's counselors went to Glacier Valley on Monday to help, he added.
Campbell urged parents to remind their children to wear helmets when they ride bicycles, skateboards or scooters and to set an example by wearing helmets when they are cycling.
He also urged parents to remind their children to observe proper safety habits and to wear reflective or bright-colored clothing and look and listen both ways for traffic when crossing a street. And in days with diminishing light, drivers should be more vigilant in watching out for pedestrians, he said.
Tony Carroll can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.