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2 accidents involving school children worry Rapid City officials

RAPID CITY (AP) -- Two accidents involving children have school officials and police in Rapid City looking both ways. Cars hit two children six days apart in front of Rapid City elementary schools this month. The Rapid City Journal reports minor ...

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RAPID CITY (AP) - Two accidents involving children have school officials and police in Rapid City looking both ways.

Cars hit two children six days apart in front of Rapid City elementary schools this month. The Rapid City Journal reports minor injuries resulted in the accidents at Wilson Elementary on Wednesday and at Robbinsdale Elementary last week.

"I don't remember this ever happening before," Rapid City Police Lt. Brian Blenner said Thursday. "It's a big blip on the radar."

Officials feel fortunate to have dodged two tragedies. But police have now concentrated patrols around school zones during drop-off and pickup times. And school officials have asked principals to redouble their scrutiny of safety plans.

"We need to have awareness and pay attention," said Matt Seebaum, assistant superintendent of Rapid City Area Schools.

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Both accidents happened when students exited vehicles on a far curb and crossed toward the school, entering traffic from behind other vehicles. Neither accident happened at a crosswalk.

Recent changes in crossing guard staffing wasn't to blame, and crossing guards were manning crosswalks at both schools on the days of the accidents, Seebaum said. Police opted not to employ crossing guards after the previous academic year, but the school system now employs more guards than police did, he said.

Parents who drop off kids across the street from a school should teach their children to cross at the crosswalk, Seebaum said. If necessary, they should escort children across the street.

They also need to teach kids to look both ways and to make eye contact with drivers before proceeding, Blenner said.

And drivers need to slow down, Seebaum said.

"Even at 5 mph," he said, "if a kid gets hit, that can really harm them."

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