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PD: Elder High School teacher injured in hit-and-run while volunteering in East Price Hill

Posted: 10:10 PM, Dec 09, 2017
Updated: 2017-12-12 00:44:31Z
Elder teacher hit by car while volunteering

CINCINNATI -- A longtime Elder High School teacher and running coach was injured in a hit-and-run crash while he was volunteering Saturday morning in East Price Hill, according to police. 

Cincinnati Police Lt. Steve Saunders said a driver struck Mark Klusman at 11:20 a.m. on Warsaw Avenue east of Grand Avenue. It happened while Klusman was helping with the Elder-Price Hill cleanup.

Officers found the vehicle that was involved in the incident, Saunders said, but they have not identified the driver.

Klusman is a well-known figure on the city's West Side, instantly recognizable from his large, white beard and long, white hair. He was in the intensive care unit at the University of Cincinnati Hospital Medical Center, according to Elder Principal Kurt Ruffing.

Klusman's family said he “suffered multiple traumas to his body.”

"Mark is in need of our prayers,” Ruffing said in a memo to faculty and staff.

Cincinnati FOP President Dan Hils said Klusman taught him when he attended Elder. 

“Everywhere you go on the West Side you see Mr. Klusman," Hils said. "Of course my son is at Elder now, and my son has had him for computer technologies.”

Bob Roncker, the former running shop owner, graduated from Elder with Klusman in 1961. Both returned to teach in 1966 before Roncker moved on to his namesake business. He recalled Klusman being one of the first people he knew to use a bicycle for commuting: He bought the bike after he totaled his car in about 1970.

"He always seemed to be a very innovative person," Roncker said.

Recent efforts to improve safety

Warsaw Avenue is one of Cincinnati's worst spots for pedestrians, according to a WCPO review of traffic crash records last year. Although the most-dangerous stretch didn't include the block where Klusman was injured, a man was killed last month in that area just to the west: Well-known East Price Hill business owner Federico Ventura died when he, too, was struck by a hit-and-run driver near a Kroger store.

After several high-profile pedestrian deaths, Cincinnati City Council directed administrators to improve pedestrian safety citywide -- and allocated $500,000 in funding in this year's budget.

The Department of Transportation and Engineering has looked to "low-cost, high-impact" solutions, which include installing crossing "paddles" in the middle of some intersections. Michael Moore, transportation department director, said his department also is exploring blinking pedestrian signs and raised crosswalks.