By WILLARD KILLOUGH III
CAROLINA BEACH – Officials with the North Carolina Department of Transportation met with officials from the Town of Carolina Beach on Monday April 1st at the intersection of Lake Park Blvd and Cape Fear Blvd to discuss improving safety along Lake Park Blvd at various locations. That follows the death of a young child on March 22nd at that same intersection. The child passed away following the accident when a Jeep hit the female child and a woman.
According to Carolina Beach Police Detective Sergeant Scott Hettinger, “Just after 10:00AM on March 22, 2019, Carolina Beach Police Department, Carolina Beach Fire Department and New Hanover County EMS were dispatched to a call involving a motor vehicle collision with pedestrians. The incident occurred at the intersection of South Lake Park Blvd and Cape Fear Blvd. in Carolina Beach.”
He explained, “Emergency responders rendered aide to the pedestrian victims, who are described as an adult female and female child. Investigators on scene determined both victims were struck by a vehicle. The female and child were transported to New Hanover Regional Medical Center for further treatment. After advanced lifesaving medical treatment, the child later succumbed to the injuries and died.”
Lake Park Blvd was closed for several hours as police investigated the scene.
On March 25th, Hettinger explained, “The pedestrian victims involved in the fatal collision were related as grandmother and grandchild. The adult pedestrian victim is identified as Catherine Hagelstein a 56-year-old female and the juvenile pedestrian victim is identified as Cora Kruger a 1-year-old female, both of Inlet Acres Dr., Wilmington, N.C. The driver of the vehicle involved in the collision is identified as Heather Ligotino a 39-year-old female of Huron Dr., Wilmington N.C. At this time there is no impairment of drugs or alcohol suspected. The location of the vehicle and pedestrian collision did occur within a marked crosswalk. The adult victim has injuries which have been reported as non-life threatening. Currently, the Carolina Beach Police Department is still investigating the collision and charges to the driver are Misdemeanor Death by Motor Vehicle and Failure to Yield to a Pedestrian. Today the driver, Heather Ligotino has been arrested for the above charges and taken before the New Hanover County Magistrates Office where she officially charged and subsequently released by the Magistrate on a written promise to appear.”
A gofundme page has been setup to accept donations to help pay the expenses for Catherine Hagelstein. She does not have medical or health insurance and is unable to work due to her injuries. Donations can be made online at https://www.gofundme.com/cora-kruger-amp-cathy-hagelstein
Following the incident, Residents posted a sign reading “Slow Down” and have left flowers and stuffed animals as a memorial.
On April 1st, Town Officials met with NCDOT to discuss improvements at major intersections along Lake Park Blvd (Highway 421), Dow Road and at areas where pedestrian and bicycle crossing occur at a higher rate.
Following the meeting with NCDOT on Monday, Town Manger Lucky Narain explained, “The primary focus of the NCDOT staff at this moment is to investigate the accident site and to make traffic/pedestrian safety recommendations. We were informed that NCDOT will have to go back and analyze the data they collect before they can make any recommendations. This process is estimated to take a few months.”
He explained, “A priority question that we posed was – will NCDOT allow Carolina Beach to be more innovative to address traffic and safety concerns within our town limits? They couldn’t give us a definite yes because they have to take our suggestions to their supervisors for approval. But, NCDOT staff were engaged and receptive to our requests.”
Some of the items discussed during the meeting include placing solar powered feedback signs, installing new rapid flashing beacons, new crosswalk stripping, installation of a weather station on Snow’s Cut Bridge and revisiting speed limits.
The Council will discuss the matter at their upcoming Monday April 8th, meeting at 6:30pm at Town Hall, 1121 North Lake Park Blvd. For more information, call 910-458-2999.