Local News

Teen's Death Prompts Calls for Signal at Intersection

Posted November 5, 2007 5:06 p.m. EST
Updated November 5, 2007 6:36 p.m. EST

— 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.