The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA


October 15, 2013

Readers' Forum 10-15 | Race safety questioned; YMCA responds

JOHNSTOWN — Concerning the Johnstown Marathon on Oct. 6.

What a beautiful fall day, nothing compared to the past two years. Our family ran last year in the half marathon and 5K. Unfortunately, my nephew was hit by a car last year near the finish. This year, the only one in the family to run was our son.

Our family stood at the Point Stadium to cheer on the 5K and 10K runners as they made their way down the street. As the pack of runners approached the corner at the Point Stadium, a CamTran bus came down the street and started to make the turn onto Main Street, right into the path of the runners as they were to enter the turn.

These runners now had to maneuver around the bus, which was sitting in the middle of the road, and get around the construction on the corner. There was no one there to stop the bus, guide the bus or indicate to the bus that there were runners approaching.

This could have resulted in another terrible accident. Luckily, the runners were all able to keep moving, and no one was injured. Who was watching out for these runners? Who was concerned for their safety? No one. Someone really dropped the ball with this traffic mishap. With all the efforts that are put into this event how do you miss something this important?

Please take this into consideration for next year to keep everyone safe.

Melody Cooper


Editor’s note: The YMCA was asked to comment. Its response follows:

YMCA takes safety of participants seriously

As executive director of the Greater Johnstown Community YMCA, I want to apologize to all who were put in harm’s way at Main and Johns streets during the 10K/5K race on Oct. 6. I oversee traffic control and take the safety of every participant very seriously.

There were two volunteers posted at that intersection at 9:30 a.m. I was told that a third volunteer showed up and agreed to take charge of that intersection but left without telling the other two, who were just steps away assisting another volunteer. This resulted in the intersection not being covered.

I do everything I can to ensure safety, but in this case, safety was compromised. I take full accountability and will work harder to keep our future participants safe.

Last year, a gentleman was hit by a car while participating in our race. I took this accident and his well-being seriously and reached out to the family on numerous occasions.

I do, however, want the readers to understand that the injury that was sustained by the half-marathon participant last year was not due to negligence by the YMCA.

To ensure a safer event this year, the half marathon race was rerouted, resulting in less congestion in the area of last year’s accident.

I want to thank the hundreds of volunteers, fire police, EMTs, state police, YMCA staff and sponsors for their time, resources and commitment given to this year’s event.

Sharon Jones

executive director of Johnstown YMCA

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