Sad news from Central Boca Raton as we learned that 12-year-old Shoshana Rachel Stern passed away after being hit by a car on Sunday night. Our hearts go out to her family and friends.
Update2: Read about Shoshie’s funeral in the Sun Sentinel, a warm story that brings hope from this tragedy.
Having read some short news stories about this incident, we decided to do a preliminary investigation to see if we can get a better understanding of what happened.
We first read about it in the Sun Sentinel. The story reports that the accident occurred at 7:05 pm. That appears to be before sunset (7:43 pm per SunriseSunset.com). It also reports that the driver, Marvin Stanley James was headed westbound. That would suggest he was driving into the sun, which may have impaired his ability to see ahead.
This picture from SunCalc shows the sun would have been positioned nearly due west at the time of the incident, a touch toward West Northwest.
It’s hard to tell whether the sun was a factor. If James was in the far right lane it’s likely trees would have blocked the sun. If he was in the far left lane the sun was a greater risk. We do not know at this point which lane he was in.
Update: Thanks to an anonymous commenter, there’s some indication the accident occurred at a different intersection than the one originally indicated. See image below for a picture of the other intersection of Boca Del Mar Drive and Palmetto Park Road:
In some ways this makes more sense, but on the other hand it doesn’t fit with why the Sun Sentinel referenced “the Boca Colony Apartment Homes nearby”, which are just south of the other intersection. We hope to learn more and further update our analysis. This new information calls into question our earlier analysis, below.
There’s also a short version of the story on the WPEC website. It includes comments posted by readers, some of which seem to be hasty judgments about who is at fault.
One anonymous commenter writes:
Were you there? because I was, and that’s NOT what happened. The driver wasn’t at fault and should NOT be slandered like this. It was a green light for the driver and the girl crossed the crosswalk on her skateboard while the cross walk was RED. She didn’t even stop to look. I also saw the car afterward, and if you had seen the car, you’d see that she literally ran into the car as opposed to the car hitting her
This comment does not seem credible. First, of course, it’s anonymous. Second, looking at this intersection on Google Maps, there is no crosswalk and there’s no light for the driver at all. Here are views from above and a street view.
Of course it’s possible that the intersection has changed since these photos were taken. But it’s hard to see why there would be a crosswalk across Palmetto. There’s no sidewalk on the north side of the road. Indeed it’s puzzling why Ms. Stern, or any pedestrian, would cross Palmetto at this intersection. We will visit the location in the next few days and update if we find anything different.
Another commenter went the other way:
Even IF Shoshana did walk without looking, IT IS UP TO THE DRIVER TO WATCH WHERE IN THE WORLD THEY ARE GOING. Do NOT take the blame off of the driver, he KILLED A BEAUTIFUL CHILD. Shame on you for even trying to defend that guy for killing her.
This also seems to be a hasty judgment. We don’t know what happened yet, and we may never know for sure.
This area is just not pedestrian friendly. Drivers are not paying attention to the road.
We would have to agree that the area is not pedestrian friendly. On this initial analysis that’s because it’s not supposed to be pedestrian friendly. That’s why there’s no crosswalk. Pedestrians should not cross an 8-lane roadway with a 50 mph speed limit at an uncontrolled intersection (no crosswalk, traffic signals or other devices to control vehicle traffic).
With that said, we can’t know whether James did anything wrong. And we don’t know what exactly Stern did or why she did it. We look forward to a full report from the police when it becomes available.
Regardless of fault, we at West Boca News extend our sincere condolences to the Stern family and our thoughts are with Mr. James and his family as well.