What to Know
- 2.6 million local residents visit Balboa Park every year according to a 2017 survey
- Add in tourists, the park's estimated attendance is 4.6 million. NYC's Central Park in 2016 saw 9 million users, the survey said.
Two people were injured — one critically — when a car struck them while they were walking in the heart of San Diego's Balboa Park on Thursday.
A man and a woman were walking on Pan American Plaza Road between the Organ Pavilion and the International Cottages at 5:30 p.m. when they were hit by an oncoming car.
The woman, 19, was critically injured in the collision. The man suffered multiple abrasions and a concussion, San Diego police said. Both were transported to a nearby hospital.
The driver of a 2009 Toyota Highlander did not stop for the pedestrians and struck them while they were crossing the street, police said.
The driver, 77, was not injured and did not flee the scene. Drugs and alcohol are not suspected as a factor the accident, police said.
No charges against the driver have been filed, police said.
Anyone who may have witnessed the collision can call San Diego Crime Stoppers at (888) 580-8477.
Parkgoers on Friday say perhaps it's time to ban cars in the the park.
"I think it would be much better to have fewer cars in here," said Marilyn Orbann, who was in the park for the Cherry Blossom Festival.
Orbann grew up in North Park and remembers when cars could drive through from Balboa Park to North Park.
"I used to be against it, but now I'm thinking more in favor of it being closed off," she said.
James Spellman, who bikes through the park almost every day, doesn't think a ban is needed. He thinks both drivers and pedestrians just need to be on the lookout for each other.
"There needs to be an awakening on both sides," Spellman said. "If everyone just obeyed the law this would stop,"
Removing vehicle traffic through Balboa Park has been a controversial issue for years.
In 2016, the San Diego City Council approved a $79 million project to remove vehicle traffic from the heart of the park.
The Balboa Park Plaza de Panama project would create an underground parking structure with a pedestrian bypass bridge.
Under the plan, vehicles would not be permitted in the area filled with the most pedestrians - the area beyond the Museum of man and the archway entrance to the park.
After a legal challenge launched by a local historical society, a superior court judge ruled in 2017 that the council acted properly in its approval of the plan.