Motorist kills woman jogging through Aurora crosswalk Thursday; 3rd pedestrian death in 5 days

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AURORA | A 71-year-old woman was killed in Aurora Thursday morning after a driver struck her as she was lawfully jogging through a crosswalk on East Yale Avenue.

Aurora police said the driver was heading north on South Abilene Street before fatally striking the woman just after 9 a.m. Aug. 13. The driver struck the woman while attempting to turn left into the westbound lanes of Yale.

The Arapahoe County Coroner’s Office on Friday identified the woman who died as Victoria Lynn Torok. She died three days before her 72nd birthday.

Torok had the right-of-way, police said.

The death Thursday marks the third pedestrian killed on an Aurora roadway this week. A 56-year-old man was struck and killed in a hit-and-run collision near South Parker Road and Peoria Street Aug. 11, and another man died after the driver of a Chevy sedan struck him in the 14700 block of East Arapahoe Road Aug. 9, according to Aurora police.

A total of 21 people have been killed in Aurora traffic crashes this year, according to Officer Crystal McCoy, spokeswoman for the Aurora Police Department. Eight of those deaths were pedestrians. In 2019, at least 33 people were killed in traffic incidents in the city, including at least 11 pedestrians.

Police said that the woman killed Thursday was the only pedestrian who was “lawfully crossing the road” when they were struck and killed this year.

McCoy urged both drivers and pedestrians to remain vigilant on the city’s roadways.

“Drivers should stop, check and proceed slowly into crosswalks, and yield to pedestrians in the roadway,” she wrote in a news release. “Pedestrians should use crosswalks and crosswalk buttons, obey pedestrian signals, and dress in a manner that illuminates you at night.”

Jack Todd, spokesman for Bicycle Colorado, said his organization also encourages vulnerable road users, such as pedestrians, cyclists and wheelchair users, to be hyper vigilant on roadways, though no level of awareness can prevent a distracted driver.

“We encourage bicyclists and pedestrians to really look out for themselves and be aware of their surroundings, but ultimately no amount of looking out for yourself can prevent a driver from crashing into you if they’re not paying attention,” he said.

Todd and other traffic analysts have reported drivers cruising at increased speeds in recent months as roadways have cleared due to restrictions imposed to curb COVID-19.

And as roads have cleared, an increasing number of people have turned to biking around town, Todd said. National reports of a growing bicycle shortage emerged earlier this spring.

But even with a sharp rise in the number of cyclists on the road, Todd said bicycle fatalities are generally down across the state this year, which indicates that it’s drivers who are more often the cause of fatal collisions than their counterparts on fewer than four wheels.

“Biking is absolutely booming right now,” he said. “Even with — in some places — double the ridership than in typical years, bicyclist fatalities are down, which is an indication that it’s really the amount of drivers out there rather than the number of bikes out there that is putting people in danger.”

Anyone who may have witnessed the fatal collision Thursday or may have dashboard camera footage of the incident is encouraged to call the local branch of Crime Stoppers U.S.A. at 720-913-7867.