Local News

Teen's Death Prompts Calls for Signal at Intersection

Posted November 5, 2007

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— A Fayetteville neighborhood is renewing its calls for a traffic light at a local intersection after a 13-year-old was hit and killed by an SUV.

Phuong Tran was hit Thursday as his walked home after a soccer game at Westover Middle School, where he was an eighth-grader. He died Saturday at Duke University Hospital.

As he stepped into the crosswalk on Bonanza Drive, cars on the outside lane stopped. But a Chevrolet Tahoe in an inside lane struck him as he continued across the road.

No charges have been filed yet in the case.

By Monday, a small memorial of signs, balloons, flowers and a candle had sprung up in the honor student's memory at the intersection of Bonanza Drive and Glen Canyon Drive.

Community leaders said they have fought for a traffic light at the intersection for years. They said they also would like the posted speed limit along Bonanza Drive lowered from 45 mph to 35 mph.

"Why did it take a young man's life for this to happen?" said local resident Ray Smith, who lives across the road from the Westover Middle School and Westover High School complex. “It shouldn’t have happened.”

Speed has long been a serious problem at the intersection, Smith said.

"I drive my son to school because he tells me how the cars actually speed up and he can't cross," he said. “I stand outside sometimes and watch the cars speeding by. I ... wave and ask them to slow down. One kid is too many.”

City Councilman D.J. Haire said the state Department of Transportation has maintained in the past that the intersection doesn't need a stoplight.

"It was not enough vehicles, not enough wrecks. There wasn't a proper intersection for a light to go," Haire said, citing DOT arguments against a traffic signal.

Police have no other reports of children being hit at the intersection. But in the wake of Tran's death, Haire said he plans to ask state lawmakers to push for traffic safety improvements.

Rep. Rick Glazier and Sens. Tony Rand and Larry Shaw assured him they would work to put a light in place, he said.

"This is a mandate from the community. One life is enough. We want a traffic light," he said.

DOT officials said they would wait for the police investigation of the incident to be complete before recommending any changes to the  intersection. Installing a traffic light would cost from $70,000 to $100,000, officials said.

22 Comments

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  • jreesnc Nov 6, 2007

    Sorry, but what part of this is not clear to you?

    "North Carolina General Statute 20-173 requires that where traffic-control signals are not in place or in operation the driver of a vehicle shall yield the right of way, slowing down or stopping if need be to so yield, to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within any marked crosswalk or within any unmarked crosswalk at or near an intersection."

    Leave the kid out of it. If you are driving a motor vehicle, you have the RESPONSIBILITY to be prepared to stop. Seeing the marked crosswalk alone should be enough to increase your level of alertness. If you are seeing other vehicles stop at a marked crosswalk, shouldn't that alert you that someone just might be crossing?

    I guess what I find tiresome is the attitude here saying things like "he should have stayed out the way" or "he should have looked more carefully" How about the DRIVER? Where is the RESPONSIBILITY to look where you are pointing your large blunt object?

  • RYANROCCO Nov 6, 2007

    SORY....I GOT THE LANES CROSSED, BUT IT STILL APPLIES..

  • RYANROCCO Nov 6, 2007

    GET A GRIP. IT HAPPENED AFTER SCHOOL HOURS. IF THE SUV WAS IN THE FAR LANE, HOW WOULD HE KNOW IF A CAR WAS STOPPED TO HIS LEFT THAT THERE WAS A KID CROSSING THE STREET. IT WAS AN ACCIDENT..LET IT GO...THE KID SHOULD HAVE BEEN MORE CAREFUL CROSSING THE STREET TO MAKE SURE THAT THE ROAD WAS TOTALLY FREE OF CARS!!!

  • pleshy Nov 6, 2007

    Maybe this is a stupid question, but where were mom and dad? Were they just letting this kid cross the street unattended? But hey, I have had teenagers wearing all black, at night, cross against the light in front of me at the corner of Atlantic and New Hope Church road, going north. Some may know it, when you are coming up the hill and cannot see over the intersection. I passed right between two kids wearing all black crossing against traffic. idiots.

  • jreesnc Nov 6, 2007

    richard2, your comments are exactly why there seems to be such a problem with pedestrians being smashed by ignorant drivers:

    Whether or not the child had the right of way (and in this case he clearly did), motorists need to drive responsibly and not shrug their shoulders when kids start bouncing off their bumpers.

    The issue is not the kid. It’s why people do not care about pedestrians. Why is that so hard to understand?

  • jreesnc Nov 6, 2007

    "Look both ways before you cross the street. Your parents should teach you this at a very early age. If walking and you get hit by a car you will be hurt, even if you have the right of way."

    ..and apparently despite state law regarding pedestrians in crosswalks, the driver doesn't get charged. It seems like motorists around here are on a deadly rampage hitting, running over and killing pedestrians. He was CHILD and he was in a fricken crosswalk!

    Motorists have the HIGHER responsibility as they are the ones operating the lethal force. The comments about regarding pedestrians apparently needing to run away in fear any time they see a vehicle shows just how little the motorists posting here are interested in assuming the responsibility.

  • richard2 Nov 6, 2007

    Con Amor I did read the story. If you step out in front traffic and get run over, you are not very careful are you? You may have the right of way, but it will kill you.

  • mommy2caroline Nov 6, 2007

    dcatz-Actually it doesn't matter what people drive. I have seen many vehicles of all shapes and sizes in wrecks. None of them are great results. It's simple-people need to slow down PERIOD.

  • silverado32 Nov 6, 2007

    dcatz: IT'S NOT JUST SUV DRIVERS THAT CANN'T DRIVE. I'VE SEEN FOKES IN SMALL, MID SIZE AND LARGE CARS DRIVING LIKE FOOLS. IT'S NOT THE VEHICLE. IT'S THE DRIVER! I SPEND A LOT OF TIME ON THE ROAD SO I KNOW. I AGREE THAT IF THIS IS A BUSY CROSSING PUT A CROSS WALK THAT WAY TRAFFIC CAN KEEP GOING SLOWLY OF COURSE.

  • dcatz Nov 6, 2007

    It does matter if the vehicle is an SUV because someone is twice as likely to die from being hit by one compared to a regular car.

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