Woman dies after being struck by truck at intersection of Washington Road and Nassau Street (updated)

A cement truck that was driving through the intersection of Nassau Street and Washington Road struck a pedestrian just before 5 p.m. on Tuesday. Emergency workers attempted to performed CPR on the pedestrian, who died at the scene.

Police identified the victim as Leslie Goodrich Rubin, 62, of Nassau Street. Rubin was walking in an unknown direction in the crosswalk on Washington Road at Nassau Street when the cement truck, driven by Ralph Allen, turned left onto Washington Road from Nassau Street and struck her.

Rubin, a scholar and teacher, was the wife of Charles Rubin, a visiting scholar in the James Madison Program at Princeton University. She and her husband have two grown children. The Rubins are from Pittsburgh, where both taught political science at Duquesne University.

Princeton University Professor Robert George wrote about the death on social media last night. The Rubins had sat in on one of his lectures earlier in the day. “Little did I know that this would be the last time I would see her,” he wrote. “This news is simply devastating, not only for Charlie, a person whom all of us in the Madison Program cherish and hold in the highest esteem, but for the entire Madison Program family. We are in shock.”

Police are seeking witnesses who saw the incident. If you have information, please call Sgt. Thomas Murray of the Princeton Police Department at 609-921-2100, ext. 1879.

The intersection is considered one of the most dangerous in Princeton. The state recently made changes to traffic signals at Nassau Street and Washington Road/Vandeventer Avenue to try to address some of the problems at the intersection. Driver and pedestrian inattention has also been an ongoing issue in town.

33 Responses

  • So many policemen in this town, and do they give tickets to people speeding? To people on the phone while driving? To people that turn on red right in front of the sign “do not turn on red”? Or to the bike riders that follow traffic signs only when they want to? It is disgraceful.

    • It isn’t just about giving tickets to illegal driving! The left turn on green from Nassau to Washington is legal but extremely dangerous: drivers are tempted to “step on it” to turn before cars from opposite direction arrive, while at the same time pedestrians crossing Washington have a green light. I almost got struck that way last week, I was crossing on green light and a car turning left from Nassau turned full speed. No left turn should be allowed at the same time pedestrians have a green light at such a busy intersection!!!

      • Didn’t they create green arrows at the intersection when they changed the traffic signal to fix the problem with turning, oncoming traffic, and pedestrians? We will go look. The timing of the light is weird now and there is very little time to get through the light, even if you are going straight. Also, pedestrians often don’t follow the signal and cross when it says don’t walk.

        • In my case I was crossing on green light for pedestrians and the car turning left really stepped on it and was very fast. Having No left turn at all on that intersection would be safest. If the green is short, cars are tempted to turn quickly, which is a horrible mix in a place with heavy pedestrian usage.

          • Not sure how it is since the NJDOT change with the green arrows, etc. Sad any way you look at it. Not about blame for us, just trying to get the facts. Something else clearly needs to be done about the intersection. I hate going through it and avoid turning if I can. Light timing really short and all sorts of other issues.

  • There is so much traffic and pedestrian activity at that intersection at rush hour. Cars speed through the short left-turn light because they have been waiting in line for 5 minutes. And so many people cross when they shouldn’t.

    Suggestion: 11am-7pm, before Washington Rd gets the green light, allow all pedestrians to cross ALL WAYS for 30 seconds, like at the Rt 206 – Rt 27 intersection (a “diagonal crosswalk”). Enforce this with an officer stationed there for the next 3 months.

    This is really sad. Condolences to the family.

    • This is a great idea, but unfortunately, Princeton Council has already proposed it to the State (who controls the traffic signals & patterns at Nassau & Washington) and the State vetoed the idea.

      • When did that veto happen? Maybe time to try again? Life threatening situation, justifies multiple attempts

        • “We’ve requested it multiple times before that,” Council President Jenny Crumiller said Monday [10/23/2017]. “Even fairly recently when we were putting in the new light, we requested it.”

  • I rarely see a pedestrian look up from their iPhone while crossing a street in Princeton.

    • Now they confirmed that it was a left turn, so green for pedestrians. Really unfair that so many comments are quick to blame the pedestrian. This left turn mixed with green crosswalk is deadly

      • Sure appears that there is a 4th light on that traffic light. Perhaps a green arrow for the truck and a don’t walk for the pedestrian?

      • That is absolutely not true. The pedestrian needs to make sure he has a reasonable expectation of crossing prior to entering the crosswalk. People think that they can just walk into the street at a crosswalk and drivers have to stop- this is not true. That is not the law.

        • More crap. In Princeton, you must stop for a pedestrian in a crosswalk, and the pedestrian has the right of way if there is no light. Granted, there was a light at this intersection, but it is not true that all pedestrians enter crosswalks at their own risk. Also, there is no evidence this woman was not paying attention.

          • you are simply wrong. Read the NJ law. It is not only against the law to walk in a crosswalk into moving traffic, it’s simply stupid. Ask a policeman to explain it to you.

            • Here is the relevant law: http://www.nj.gov/oag/hts/pedestrian.html
              “The driver of a vehicle must stop and stay stopped for a pedestrian crossing the roadway within any marked crosswalk, but shall yield the right-of-way to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within an unmarked crosswalk at an intersection, except at crosswalks when the movement of traffic is being regulated by police officers or traffic control signals, or where otherwise prohibited by municipal, county, or State regulation, and except where a pedestrian tunnel or overhead pedestrian crossing has been provided, but no pedestrian shall suddenly leave a curb or other place of safety and walk or run into the path of a vehicle which is so close that it is impossible for the driver to yield.”
              Cars must yield if it is possible to do so (but frequently don’t). The pedestrian should be sensible and not run into oncoming traffic. At this intersection, which is governed by a green left-turn light, the vehicle absolutely does not have any right-of-way unless that light is on.

              • There is a Princeton ordinance requiring that cars yield to pedestrians in crosswalks.

  • In a post I wrote three years ago, called “The Worst Intersection in Princeton”, I suggested that green left turn arrows should not just disappear but transition to a blinking yellow. Before the recent revision of the lights at that intersection, a big problem was drivers coming down Washington Rd wanting to turn left onto Nassau. Their green light would turn yellow, then disappear, leaving only the green light, which seemed to embolden them to keep turning left even though oncoming traffic from Vandeventer had right of way. One thing that could help is if green left turn arrows go from green to yellow to blinking yellow, so that it’s clear that they must at that point yield before turning. I’ve heard that the woman was pulling a suitcase, which if true could suggest she was visiting. http://princetonprimer.blogspot.com/2014/06/the-worst-intersection-in-princeton.html

  • I was at this intersection around 12:30 waiting to cross Nassau. Through two red lights, the crosswalk signal never turned green. No one knew when to cross so I just looked both ways and walked out thinking “wow, someone is gonna get hit here.”

    • I have seen the same. Pedestrian IQ is not always that high with so many tourists, visitors and new students in town, and this is a tricky intersection.

  • i had chills for hours after passing by the immediate aftermath of this scene today. my sincerest condolences to ms. rubin and her loved ones. what a tragedy.

  • Along with the lack of a blinking yellow arrow mentioned in an earlier comment, another problem with the new light sequence is that even though it is safer in some respects, it also increases the time pedestrians and vehicles have to wait for their turn. The resulting impatience can cause a vehicle to rush through rather than be held back for another cycle, and cause pedestrians to improvise rather than dutifully wait for the walk signal. Though it wasn’t a factor in this tragedy, another problem with the intersection is that vehicles coming down Washington Road are emboldened by their high ground. This is a big problem at another dangerous intersection, on Hamilton Ave where Linden Lane’s comparatively high ground can cause drivers to rush across Hamilton.

    • I agree that another street in Princeton that is high risk for pedestrians is Hamilton Ave. The speed limit on Hamilton Ave should be limited too. Crossing Hamilton between Jefferson and N. Harrison, and specifically between N. Harrison and Snowden Ln, is simply treacherous. This is a residential area and the street is crossed very often by pedestrians of all ages. Speeding cars rarely slow down, or stop when one is crossing, speeding over 40 mph. This should be addressed, speed bumps should be added (as Mercer Str Mercer St, between Lovers Ln and Springdale Rd has ones), before any tragedy will happen on Hamilton Ave, as well. Our condolences to Ms. Rubin’s family.

  • A pedestrian overpass (or in Europe there are many underpass pedestrian tunnels, which may be more aesthetic) is needed. There are just too many automobiles and pedestrians at this intersection. Perhaps, some of the $20+ billion in the University endowment could be deployed to save lives, one likely a student’s…

  • Surely it is long past time to close Washington Road to commercial traffic and people connecting between Princeton and Route 1. Too many lives are at stake and their are two alternative routes.

    The driver of the cement truck should be on trial for manslaughter!

    • the only reason all that traffic comes through in the first place was because Princeton opposed the I-95 extension decades ago. If we ever get the opportunity to have a freeway again, don’t oppose it.

  • Heres an idea. Princeton alumnis donate millions each year, invest some to pedestrians overpass maybe 2-4 @ nassau street and few more on other streets i the area? I mean its not that hard right? Shouldnt take more than a week to finish everything. Ban street crossing make it so you have to use the overpass to cross. Too many people students tourists etc cross the road without care expecting cars to magically stop for them going 30-40mph. I’m sitting in princeton right now commenting this shaking my head, I drive thru the accident spot almost every day for the past 10 years.

  • Terribly sad. I rode my bicycle through that intersection yesterday, and thought of this tragedy. Safer roads really help, I think. But in reading the comments I am reminded of a “car first culture” which induces some dangerous minority of drivers to behave in ways that invite tragedy.

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