Car-runner crash near Washington High School an 'unfortunate lesson'

Cross-country runners need to be careful in traffic, coach says

  • Photo

UPDATE: A Washington High School cross country runner is resting at home after being struck by a car during practice Tuesday afternoon.

Patrick Reirden, a 16-year-old sophomore, was struck by a car around 4:15 p.m. Tuesday as he crossed Cottage Grove Avenue SE, south of the high school.

"He didn't see the driver, and the driver didn't see him," said Reirden's mother, Kathy. "He's very fortunate. He's a very blessed child."

Reirden struck -- and damaged -- the windshield of a 2000 Pontiac driving west on Cottage Grove Avenue, driven by Marie Alger, 22, of Mount Vernon. Reirden flipped over, then hit the back of the vehicle, shattering the back window.

He was transported via ambulance to Mercy Medical Center, where he was treated and released Tuesday night. Reirden suffered a concussion and a head wound that required seven staples, as well as a badly bruised arm.

"He's in a lot of pain, but nothing is broken," his mother said.

A witness said that Reirden "had a determined look, that he was going to cross the street and beat the cars," according to Washington boys' cross country coach Will Harte.

Reirden is one of 58 members of the Washington boys' cross country team. He does not participate in meets, using cross country workouts as conditioning for wrestling.

Harte said that he had recently had a meeting with his runners regarding traffic safety.

"I saw the team in the middle of a run downtown, not long ago, and they were a little reckless," Harte said. "I stopped them and told them that somebody was going to get killed if they weren't more careful.

"You've got to run on the left side of the road, facing traffic. You've got to run on the sidewalk. You can't cross on a red light. And most importantly, you've got to remember that cars are bigger and faster than you are."

Washington Associate Principal Mike Johnson called Tuesday's accident "an unfortunate lesson to all of us. We have to be aware of our surroundings all the time. We don't need to take chances."

Reirden's mother said she expects Patrick to return to school Monday. She also holds Alger blameless.

"It wasn't her fault," she said. "I'm praying for her as hard as I'm praying for Patrick."

Alger has not been cited. Cristy Hamblin, a police spokeswoman, said officials could charge Reirden for jaywalking, since he wasn't in a crosswalk, but "he's already sustained the brunt of the damage from the accident itself."

Johnson said the Washington staff was vigilant in its assistance.

"(Teacher) Tracy Stranathan was coming from the other direction when Patrick was hit, and she dialed 911 before she pulled over. (Football coach) Tony Lombardi was on the scene immediately, and so was our athletic trainer. I am proud of their reaction; they handled it very, very well."

Like what you're reading?

We make it easy to stay connected:

to our email newsletters
Download our free apps

Give us feedback

Have you found an error or omission in our reporting? Tell us here.
Do you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.