Pupil hit by car near school


“You’re one lucky duck, you could have been mushball,” is what 8-year-old Christina Dimitriadis’ mom tells her.

In an eerie replay of a similar incident a year ago, Dimitriadis was struck by a car as she crossed the street in front of Juan Cabrillo Elementary School. Unlike last year’s 4-year-old accident victim, Dimitriadis ended up with a scraped knee rather than a hip fracture.

In another difference from last year, and as a result of last year’s incident, the city has made traffic and parking improvements to ease congestion and safety worries.

As Suzanne Bailey, Dimitriadis’ mother, explains it, Dimitriadis stepped in front of the family van and into the street without looking. She was in a blind spot in a line of parked cars. She was knocked down by a car driven by family friend Bob Snider, who was dropping off his twin girls.

Snider was horrified, Bailey said. “He was in worse shape than I was.”

Paramedics who were there in minutes and a pediatric nurse who was at the school said Dimitriadis wasn’t hurt except for a scraped knee, Bailey said. A private doctor confirmed that.

According to school principal Pat Cairns, Dimitriadis was distracted, not disobedient. She didn’t see the oncoming car even though the crossing guard — the physical education coach, “a big guy” — told her to wait.

Regarding improvements since last year, Cairns said a traffic study was done, and the city has paid for two crosswalks and a crossing guard before and after school. The city has also allowed two-hour parking in what formerly were no-parking zones, Cairns said.

The school’s modernization plan calls for taking away some portion of the playground to make a drop-off zone and additional parking, Cairns noted.

Both Bailey and Dimitriadis, while initially scared, took the incident in stride. “I’m a grateful mom,” Bailey said. “It’s just the kind of thing that will happen with that many kids and cars. We all learned a lesson without too much pain.”