Pet sitter struck and killed crossing South Main in downtown Davidson

A woman was killed Friday in this area on S. Main Street in downtown Davidson while trying to cross with a dog.
A woman was killed Friday in this area on S. Main Street in downtown Davidson while trying to cross with a dog. jpope@charlotteobserver.com

A well-known Davidson pet-sitter was killed when she and a dog she was walking were hit by a garbage truck as they tried to cross South Main Street in the 200 block downtown.

Jeffery Wilburn, 38, of Rock Hill, the driver for Republic Services of Charlotte, was charged with misdemeanor death by vehicle, said Charlotte-Mecklenburg police, requested by Davidson police to investigate the incident.

CMPD said the victim was Janet McFadden, 49. She owned Davidson Pet Sitters, friends said. She was walking two dogs about 12:16 p.m. and attempting to cross South Main when the truck turned onto the street from South Street and struck her, police said. Paramedics said McFadden died at the scene. One of the dogs was killed, too.

Tim White, a barber at Raeford’s Barber Shop nearby, said he didn’t see the incident, but talked to Wilburn, the driver, just after the incident.

“He told me he did not see her,” White said. “She stepped out to cross the street and he hit her because he didn’t see her. We see her walking dogs all the time, many times two dogs at a time.

“That is a crazy intersection – it can be tricky crossing.”

Republic declined to answer questions, referring them to police. The company sent out a statement: “Our thoughts and prayers are with everyone involved in this morning’s incident, especially our driver who is understandably distraught. We are cooperating fully with local authorities as part of their ongoing investigation.”

The incident is the second crosswalk fatality in five years in the bustling college town where Main Street is often congested with cars and pedestrians.

In 2011, a Davidson College professor was walking home in the rain when he stepped into a crosswalk on Concord Road near campus and was hit by a car.

After that incident, the town underwent a safety campaign with more signage and education and billed itself as pedestrian-friendly.

“It’s incredibly sad that this has happened in a town where life seems so simple,” said Davidson Mayor John Woods. “This is a real shock.”

Mary Lib Richards, a Davidson Realtor, said McFadden had taken care of her dogs for years.

“She was awesome, the most wonderful girl,” Richards said. “Anybody who had dogs in Davidson knew Janet and loved her.”

She said McFadden had four children, mostly grown, and grandchildren.

Richards worries that Main Street has become too busy. “It’s got a lot of action,” she said. “This is supposed to be a pedestrian-friendly town. We’ve worked very hard on that. But when something like this happens, it forces you to become more careful. This is just a very sad day.”

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