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Elderly woman fatally struck by SUV in South Philly

An 83-year-old pedestrian was killed in South Philly in an area that neighborhood activists say is dangerous to pedestrians and bicyclists.

An 83-year-old woman was killed when she was struck by two vehicles while walking in the area of 24th Street and Washington Avenue in South Philadelphia on Friday, according to police.

Police said the woman, who was not identified, was hit by a Chevrolet Cruze eastbound on Washington about 6:20 a.m., then struck by a second vehicle described only as a black SUV that fled the scene.

The driver of the Cruze remained at the scene. The driver of the SUV was being sought.

The woman was pronounced dead at the scene.

A Washington Avenue resident and activist said afterward that the road has long been dangerous for pedestrians and bicyclists, and that he and others asked City Council years ago to take steps to make it safer.

Jake Liefer, head of the Washington Avenue Advocates, said his community group of about 450 residents and business owners had approached Council about two years ago to ask for "traffic-calming measures" in the area.  He said city officials promised to look into suggestions they add traffic lights, increase the time allotted for pedestrians to cross the street, and install "raised crosswalks," or small speed bumps.

"This crash is very disconcerting," he said.  "The city had a plan to calm vehicle speeds several years ago, but nothing was done."

Mike Carroll, deputy managing director of the city's Office of Transportation and Infrastructure Systems, said a study was conducted four years ago, but the public was divided by a recommendation to reduce the traffic lanes from five to three and make modifications to the loading facilities in the light industrial section of the street.

"We have been continuing to study Washington Avenue, and the situation is its mix of uses, light industrial and commercial," he said.

"It's a slog, but we are moving forward," Carroll said. "It's a complicated set of issues, due to the mix of land uses."