Many of you have heard about the horrific multi-victim crash from October 7, 2021, in which a Chattanooga driver brutally plowed her car into a group of 5 pedestrians as they were crossing a street, causing catastrophic and life changing injuries. In the chaotic aftermath of running a red light and almost killing an entire group of people, there were reports that the driver fled the scene. After further investigation, it was determined that the driver, later identified by Chattanooga police as Crystal Insley, age 35, did not flee; however, one of her passengers did so on foot.
TRAGIC IRONY: VICTIMS ARE TRANSPORTATION PLANNERS
The tragic irony of this catastrophic crash is that the group of pedestrians Ms. Insley struck are local Atlanta advocates who were there to attend a planning meeting for the Georgia Chapter of the American Planning Association. One of the victims, Kemberli Sargent, is the Vision Zero Manager for the City of Atlanta’s Department of Transportation. Kemberli and her fellow colleagues from the Georgia Department of Transportation and Atlanta Regional Commission, including Paul Leonhardt and Elizabeth Sandlin, were attending the conference in Tennessee to help their efforts in reducing traffic fatalities in Atlanta, thereby making our city a safer place for pedestrians and bicyclists to walk and ride. Yet, as they were crossing an intersection controlled by a traffic light which indisputably gave them the right of way, Ms. Insley, speeding and allegedly intoxicated, ran them down and nearly killed them all.
In other words, the very people who devote their personal and professional lives to making the streets of Atlanta and all of Georgia safer for pedestrians and bicyclists and EVERY roadway user were horrifically victimized by a maniacal criminal who turned her vehicle into a weapon that almost cost my clients and fellow advocates their lives.
CHARGES: DUI, AGGRAVATED ASSAULT, RECKLESS DRIVING, ETC., ETC.
Crystal Insley was arrested and has been charged with multiple offenses including DUI, 4 Felony Counts of Aggravated Assault, a Red Light Violation, Reckless Driving, Lack of Due Care, Speeding, Driving too Fast for Conditions, Failure to Yield Right of Way Resulting in Death or Injury, and Financial Responsibility for the geometric damages and harm she caused. Ms. Insley currently remains in jail and is scheduled to appear in Court for the first time in this matter on October 25th. We will continue to closely monitor the prosecution to ensure that Ms. Insley is held fully accountable with a complete range of criminal consequences for her actions that day.
In addition to the 5 pedestrians mentioned above, Ashley Finch and her partner Sarah Lashinsky were also victims of Ms. Insley’s criminal behavior.
The crash itself was recorded in gruesome detail by the surveillance and security cameras of local businesses. They provide multiple angles of the crash, all of which make it abundantly clear that (a) the group of pedestrians who were victimized absolutely had the right of way and were lawfully and responsibly crossing the street with the traffic light and crossing beacon in their favor; (b) every last one of the pedestrians were crossing in the designated crosswalk; and, (c ) the driver, Ms. Insley, illegally blew through her red light at a very high speed exhibiting complete disregard for the human lives she came too close to taking. Due to the disturbing graphic nature of the video footage we’ve collected, our desire to protect the integrity of the ongoing criminal proceedings, and most importantly, out of respect for the multiple victims in this crash, we are not attaching the footage to this update.
There are many questions that remain unanswered:
- If the driver was drunk as suspected, where had she been drinking? Was she over-served at a local bar or at someone’s home where any reasonable person potentially serving her should have known Ms. Insley would then get behind the wheel of her car, significantly increasing the risk of causing the massive harm that she ultimately did?
- Local business people and residents testify that there have been multiple previous conflicts between drivers and pedestrians at this very intersection. If that is in fact the case (and these traffic incidents were reported), did the responsible Government authorities or agencies design or create a dangerous intersection that should have been thoughtfully redesigned after being put on notice and certainly before this tragedy occurred?
- If these other incidents were documented and/or reported, what traffic calming safety measures, if any, were taken to prevent further harm to others?
- Could these horrible injuries have been avoided by something as simple as a City, State, or County Government meeting its duty to provide the kind of infrastructure deserved by all roadway users, but especially those most vulnerable like pedestrians and bicyclists?
- And on a macro scale, what can we do to ensure that all responsible parties and agencies prioritize the lives of human beings who are not encapsulated inside the protective steel cage of a multi-ton motor vehicle the same way they do for those who are inside of one?
People who choose to walk or ride a bicycle should never be punished or forced to suffer the way these pedestrians and impassioned advocates have simply for choosing to walk or ride. We simply cannot and will not allow the continued marginalization and catastrophic destruction that occurs every time a vulnerable person is assaulted, struck, or killed by a negligent roadway user who’s behind the wheel of a car.
Please stay tuned for further updated details as they become available. In the meantime, we are demanding that justice be served cold, harshly, and in a timely fashion to this driver whose reckless disregard for the lives of so many others has caused such immeasurable pain.