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Two struck, killed by van were tourists

Oct. 03, 2013 @ 10:57 AM

BARBOURSVILLE – The general manager of a hotel near the Huntington Mall says two people who were struck and killed by a minivan while trying to walk across U.S. 60 on Tuesday night were a retired, married couple from England.

The Barboursville Police Department, which is investigating the accident, did not release the names of the victims Wednesday because family members had not been notified yet. Barboursville Sgt. Larry D'Alessio said no further information will be released until the investigation is complete.

The couple checked into the Best Western Huntington Mall Inn on U.S. 60 Tuesday evening, according to the hotel’s general manager, Mike Stephenson. They reserved a room for two nights and told the front desk clerk that they had been traveling alone across the country but did not indicate where they had been or where they planned on going.

“The clerk said they were extremely pleasant and interested in the area,” Stephenson said.

The couple went to their room and returned to the front desk later in the evening to ask the clerk for restaurant recommendations, Stephenson said.

The accident occurred about 8:15 p.m. in the 3400 block of U.S. 60 near Outback Steakhouse. Investigators said the minivan that struck the couple was traveling eastbound.

“One of the first responders at the scene found a room key in one of the victims’ pockets and instantly made the connection that they were staying at our hotel,” Stephenson said. “It’s such a tragedy. Our desk clerk is really torn up about it.”

Stephenson said he never advises his hotel guests to walk across U.S. 60 because it is too dangerous. There also are no sidewalks or crosswalks along the busy stretch of roadway dotted by hotels, restaurants, car dealerships and gas stations.

The road in front of the hotel is dangerous enough for motorists because the westbound lane widens to two lanes and the eastbound lane narrows to one, Stephenson said. Motorists headed westbound also tend to speed through the area because they are driving down a hill, he said.

“The Huntington Mall is one of the largest tourism draws in this region, and I’ve been saying for years that we need to do a better job with traffic safety,” Stephenson said. “A lot of people from out of town who aren’t familiar with the traffic pattern can get confused pretty easily.”

Stephenson said several years ago, he requested that the West Virginia Department of Transportation conduct a traffic study to determine whether another traffic signal along the commercial corridor would enhance safety. The department conducted the study but concluded that a traffic signal would not help, he said.

Stephenson said he plans on taking his concerns to Barboursville city officials and Cabell County commissioners before approaching the Department of Transportation again. U.S. 60 is maintained by the state.

Follow H-D reporter Bryan Chambers on Facebook or Twitter @BryanChambersHD.

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