Two Italian Visitors Struck on Nassau Street in Front of Princeton University (Updated)

pedestrians hit

Two pedestrians were struck by a sports utility vehicle on Nassau Street Thursday morning between Palmer Square and Witherspoon Street in front of FitzRandolph Gate at Princeton University.

The pedestrians were two Italian visitors who were attending a conference at Princeton University, according to the school. The women were taken to a hospital for treatment.

Iolanda Del Prete, 30, and Donatella De Silva, 26, were crossing Nassau Street from the Princeton University side of the street, heading to the business side of  the street, at about 7:20 a.m. when they were struck by a grey 2010 Acura RDX driven by Naila Sheikh, 52, of Lawrenceville. The Acura, driven by Sheikh, was traveling eastbound on Nassau Street near Palmer Square.

Based on a police investigation, it appears as though both women were walking in the marked crosswalk at the time of the collision.

De Silva was transported to the University Medical Center of Princeton at Plainsboro for minor injuries. She has since been released. Iolanda Del Prete was transported to Capital Health Regional Medical Center for serious injuries that were sustained as a result of the crash.

The crash remains under investigation. No summonses have been issued at this time.

Nassau Street was down to one lane for two hours while the Princeton Police Department investigated the incident.


  1. The ‘yield to pedestrians in the cross walk’ law is problematic. Many (especially out-of-town) vehicles unfamiliar with the law don’t know to stop or slow down when approaching the cross walk.

    The law isn’t enforced all that well. Nor is it efficient or possible to do so lest we deploy most of our police force to watch the cross walks.

    Some pedestrians, I’ve noticed, enter the cross walk with reckless abandon thinking, I guess, they have the right of way. Maybe so. But it’s easier for a person to stop than a motor vehicle or truck traveling even the speed limit. (2-1/2 car lengths.)

    This may be one of those laws that while, well
    Intentioned, have an effect opposite that which was intended.

    1. Your post was flagged as SPAM by the commenting system. Not sure why. Might have something to do with frequency or just a glitch this time.

      1. Haha. My comments have been characterized as “hot air”. But SPAM? A first. Thank you.

        1. It could be some other reason. The Disqus system manages comments when they are first posted. It will also hold comments if a user or IP has made a certain number in a given amount of time. But does not appear to be the case here. Thanks.

  2. NJ law requires motorists to stop for pedestrians in a painted crosswalk, and to stay stopped until the pedestrian is at least one clear lane past the stopped car.

    Motorists may not be aware that NJ law defines crosswalks at every leg of every intersection, whether or not there is paint (i.e. most are unmarked crosswalks). Motorists must yield to pedestrians in unmarked crosswalks. The law is designed to protect pedestrians crossing the street, and failure to follow the law is one reason NJ has one of the highest number of pedestrian fatalities in the nation.

    There is no excuse for not stopping, especially on a low speed road like Nassau, unless you don’t see the pedestrians in the first place. Distracted driving (cell phone, texting, etc.) is the leading factor in motorist crashes of all kinds, and NJ practice is to treat motorists as above the law in all but the most egregious cases of recklessness.

    Blaming the victim (victims, in this case) is common, and should have no place in a discussion where the motorist is driving a many-thousand pound car. If you can’t control your vehicle, don’t drive it – call a taxi or Uber or use public transportation. NJ Transit runs buses from Lawrence to Princeton, for example.

    1. Robert Dana makes some good points below.

      It’s not so much as victim-blaming as physics-blaming.

      I try to be as attentive as possible, covering the brake and watching pedestrians travelling parallel to the road, trying to anticipate what they might do as I approach crosswalks I’m familiar with. This is impossible with SUVs (legally) parked adjacent to the crosswalk on Witherspoon between Nassau and Hulfish. And even at less obstructed crosswalks, drivers unfamiliar with the area can have a tough time anticipating some of the more unpredictable pedestrians we see in Princeton.

      Many pedestrians make quick 90 degree turns and step into the road without looking in either direction. I was able to stop my sedan, with better-than-average braking performance just before the crosswalk. A larger vehicle with typical braking capability would not have been able to.

      I agree that drivers need to be more aware and in better control and also that enforcement plays an important role. But a simple pause and look both ways by pedestrians is also an important part of reducing vehicle-pedestrian collisions.

  3. I am not surprised at all…yesterday seemed to be especially bad (maybe because of the nice weather?). Within a 10 minute period when I was sitting on a bench at the intersection of Nassau and Vandeventer I overheard two incedents of a pedestrian yelling at a dump truck which almost hit him and then someone in a car yelling at a pedestrian. There are so many reckless and crazy drivers in Princeton.

  4. I’m so sorry to hear about this.

    It’s a wonder there are not more pedestrian accidents in town due to speeding. I live near N Harrison and Franklin, and my neighbor was victim of a hit and run within the past two years. I don’t recall it getting into the news (didn’t hear about it immediately myself). Thankfully, she recovered. There is MUCH speeding on N Harrison between Hamilton and Franklin adjacent to where the street changes from 2 to 4 lanes. People go more than 60 mph trying to get through the lights before they change.

    There is a tree covering up the 25 mph speed sign at on the north side of Harrison near Hamilton. Two weeks ago, I called public works about it and they promised to uncover the sign–but it has not happened. I’ve also requested that police write more tickets, but there has been little action there either. Police traffic officer also refused twice my requests for them to consider traffic calming along this section of the street.

    There are many pedestrians and bicycles along here headed to the shopping center. Someone is going to get killed here. I almost hit a bicycle just yesterday as he came zooming down the sidewalk while I was backing out; missed him by 1 second as he came around a parked car blocking my view.

  5. BTW–I too have seen pedestrians walk out in front of fast-moving traffic, as if daring the traffic not to stop for them. Although technically pedestrians have the right of way, IMO it’s better to allow traffic to abate, if possible, before using a crosswalk. A little give and take from both walkers and drivers wouldn’t hurt.

  6. People using the crosswalks should never assume oncoming traffic will stop once they enter the crosswalk. They need to enter and wait until any approaching vehicles come to a complete stop. This applies to both directions, just because one lane stops doesn’t mean the other will stop.

    The design of the circle down by the new arts complex is a disaster waiting to happen. Who in the world thought it would be a good idea to place multiple crosswalks around the curves of a circle? Drivers coming around the curves cannot easily see anyone inside the crosswalks. Plus you got drivers looking in the opposite direction of the crosswalks as they enter the circle to check for any oncoming vehicles. All crosswalks should be placed on the straight part of roadways and allow drivers to clearly see them. The circle crosswalks should be removed there.

    Finally the crosswalk at Tulane and Nassau that crosses Nassau from the University is extremely dangerous. The issue here is the two lanes going ENE (toward Washington/Vandeventer)… even if one lane of traffic stops upon someone entering the crosswalk, the other lane might not and the pedestrian can walk by the stopped car right into oncoming traffic. Unfortunately many pedestrians who see the one lane stop then don’t bother to look at the other oncoming traffic lane. For the oncoming driver in any one of these two lanes they do not have a good line of sight of anyone inside the crosswalk due to the already stopped vehicle blocking any view of them… then all of a sudden they step right into their path. If that driver is just a little bit distracted an accident will occur. The solution here is quick, simple, easy and would not involve major improvements. You make Nassau street ENE bound from Witherspoon to Tulane one lane instead of two. Then just after that crosswalk down to Washington/Vandeventer it opens back up (or remains) two lanes. Doing that might just save a life.

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