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Woman hurt, dog dies in crosswalk

Like clockwork, Marie Wallace Todd, 89, took her dog, Kelly, for a peaceful walk every evening about 8:30 p.m. and talked with neighbors.

But on Tuesday, the walk was not so peaceful. Mrs. Todd and Kelly were hit by a car while crossing Hillcrest Avenue at Gulf-to-Bay Boulevard. While Mrs. Todd came out with only a broken ankle, her poodle was killed. Mrs. Todd was in fair condition Wednesday at Clearwater Community Hospital, a spokesperson said.

"She had a routine," said Hillcrest Motel owner Peter Wallace. "In the morning, afternoon and evening, she walked. Everyone knows her."

Neighbors are not the only ones familiar with Mrs. Todd. In the late 1940s, Mrs. Todd wrote Song of Clearwater, which was played on radio station WTAN during a live broadcast at the Beachcomber Restaurant.

The area where Mrs. Todd was hit has been a trouble spot for some time, said Jimmy Dean, owner of Heritage Florist at the corner of Hillcrest and Gulf-to-Bay.

Dean said the crosswalk signal is too short to safely walk across. The intersection also is angled awkwardly, he said, making it hard for pedestrians and drivers to see where they are going.

"Why does a person have to get hit to change something?" said Dean, who wants the city to increase the crossing signal's time. "We're lucky she didn't get killed."

Don Andrews, a city traffic engineer, said crossing signals are timed to change to the blinking "don't walk" sign once people have crossed half way. If people step off the curb while the signal says "walk," they should be safe, he said.

The timing is arranged according to a specific formula. Andrews said he went to the intersection Wednesday and "verified the times we'd set were correct." But he added his department is looking into possible improvements.