CCU forms new pedestrian safety committee after student killed on SC 544

CONWAY, SC (WBTW) – Coastal Carolina University said they’re working to improve pedestrian safety after a student was hit and killed on Saturday along Highway 544.

The president of CCU is creating a “544 Safety Committee” to find solutions to pedestrian safety problems in the area.

The president is sending out an invitation to a group of people he wants to join the committee. They’re planning on meeting as soon as this week.

One of the ideas they’ll be discussing is a pedestrian walkway over 544. That idea has been brought up in the past but hasn’t moved forward.

A pedestrian bridge would allow students to cross from one side of 544 to the other without having to use the usually busy street. Officials said the next step in this process would be conducting a feasibility study but according to VP of Campus Life and Student Engagement, Debbie Conner, it’s expensive.

“There’s been some folks working to identify federal grant money to be able to do that type of study.”

19 year old Ryan Bielawa was trying to get to the Monarch 544 apartment complex when he was killed. Monday there was a heavy police presence in front of the complex, where the SC State Patrol was reconstructing Saturday’s scene. There was also a lot of traffic, which Evan Clagget, a student who lives in Monarch said, is pretty normal.

“It’s always going to be an issue especially around a college campus..but definitely at night it’s something to watch for.”

Coastal officials said they’ve done a lot over the past 5 years to make the school a more pedestrian friendly place. They’ve added crosswalks with timers to several locations including 544 and Founders drive, close to where Bielawa was killed.

Conner says he was a bright student with a bright future.

“He was active in the student finance club and active in a couple of other clubs on campus…My understanding is that this semester he had started working at a local Merril Lynch office.”

The school also offered counseling services to students after the accident took place.

The case is being investigated by the Conway Police Dept. and the SC Highway Patrol.