Fatal car accident at UF sparks calls for change

The University of Florida community is mourning the loss of a 19-year-old student after a weekend car crash killed her and injured four other pedestrians.

The accident occurred Saturday evening at the 1700 block of West University Avenue, on the northern edge of the UF campus. According to Gainesville Police (GPD), a Honda Civic struck a Honda Accord that was attempting to turn south onto NW 17th Street. The collision sent the Civic sliding sideways into a pole and five pedestrians, all UF students.

All five pedestrians and the driver of the Civic were transported to local hospitals, where Sophia Lambert later died from her injuries, according to a GPD press release.

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“GPD extends its deepest sympathies to the family and friends of Sophia Lambert,” the press release said, noting the incident is still under investigation.

In a Sunday statement UF also extended condolences to the family and said counseling services are available.

“The loss of any student life is unfathomable, and we recognize the effect the loss of one of our own has on the collective community,” Charlie Lane, UF chief operating officer, and D’Andra Mull, vice president for student affairs, wrote in a joint statement. “We want you to know conversations are underway regarding pedestrian and vehicular safety, on and around campus.”

UF President Kent Fuchs tweeted similar sentiments, saying his heart goes out to Lambert’s friends and family.

“We pray for the others injured in Saturday night’s terrible crash and are committed to efforts regarding pedestrian safety on and around campus,” Fuchs tweeted.

Several responders to Fuchs’ tweet called for more aggressive action to increase safety on West University Avenue.

Gainesville City Commissioner-at-large Reina Saco took to Facebook to address public concerns.

Gainesville City Commissioner-at-large Reina Saco

“I know people would like the city to take immediate action about University Ave, but the sad reality is that it is a State operated road,” Saco wrote. “[T]he City is extremely limited in how it can limit speeds, install barriers, or put in crosswalks.”

Saco called on Gainesville residents to call state representatives about the issue.

“[T]hey need to act,” she wrote. “We can’t do it without help from the State or without your voices.”

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