UMass officials identify driver who struck pedestrian on Eastman Lane

AMHERST — Charles Willingham, 18, now faces three motor vehicle citations related to a car-pedestrian accident on Eastman Lane where a man was sent to the hospital over Homecoming Weekend, according to University of Massachusetts Amherst spokesperson Mary Dettloff.

Willingham, of Newburyport, Massachusetts, was traveling westbound on Eastman Lane near the North Apartments and Sylvan Residential Area around 5:48 p.m. on Friday. He struck UMass student Silas M. Watkins, 20, of Wellfleet, Massachusetts as he was crossing the street in a designated crosswalk.

Watkins was transported to Baystate Medical Center in Springfield, where he is now listed in fair condition, according to Dettloff.

Willingham, who is not a UMass student, is being charged with speeding, negligent operation of a motor vehicle and failure to stop for a pedestrian in a crosswalk.

UMass Police say solar glare may have contributed to the accident and advised people traveling on campus to be careful, according to Dettloff.

“UMass Police report that solar glare may have been a factor in the accident and warn both drivers and pedestrians on campus that it will continue to be a safety concern between 4 and 6 p.m. in coming days,” Dettloff said. “Drivers and pedestrians should use extra care while driving and crossing streets.”

In an email sent to all students before the accident on Oct. 16, university officials warned students on the danger of solar glare this time of year, on behalf of the UMass Police Department and Parking Services.

“Solar glare can temporarily blind drivers and can be a significant safety concern for bicyclists and pedestrians,” the email read. ” Solar glare is especially strong during the morning commute hours while driving eastbound on Massachusetts Avenue, Governors Drive and Eastman Lane and on those same roads driving westbound for the evening commute. Please exercise extra precautions in these areas over the next few weeks.”

Email Morgan at [email protected], or follow her on Twitter @HughesMorgan_.

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