No Additional Safety Plans Following Student Deaths

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Even though two children were killed this week on the way to school, the districts where they attended have no additional plans to increase awareness about school zone safety.

It’s 2:30 in the afternoon, and Walnut Ridge High School students are getting out of class for the weekend just like they do every Friday. But this Friday is different. This school week comes to a close with the mourning of a classmate. 16-year-old Gregg Lee died Thursday after he was struck by a vehicle while crossing East Livingston Avenue. Police say he did not use the marked crosswalk. Fewer than 36 hours later, Lee’s classmates do the very same thing. Several students ran from one side of the street to the other after cars zip by.

Walnut Ridge High School student Malcolm Patterson used the crosswalk after the signal changed for traffic to go.

“They gotta stop though.”

That’s what Patterson told his friends. WOSU asked the teen if he knew about his classmate’s death. He said he did.

“Does that kind of sink into a little bit to you? You know you were just saying they gotta stop. They really don’t have to actually. They don’t but they should. All these people need to stop, especially during this time of day.”

Lee is not the only student who died this week on his way to school. 10-year-old Cody Jewell died Tuesday while crossing Scioto Darby Creek Road. He was a fifth-grader at Ridgewood Elementary School in Hilliard.

The school districts where the boys attended say there are no additional plans to re-emphasize school zone safety. Hilliard City Schools’ Pam Mutters said the system already makes daily announcements on the buses and in classrooms about safety because of construction around four of its schools.

Columbus City Schools spokesperson Kim Norris said there are no new efforts about school zone safety. But Norris said teachers remind students to use the crosswalks. “We would encourage every parent, everyone in the community to remind their child, their student, throughout the school year they need to be careful when they’re going to and from school,” Norris said.

Back on East Livingston Avenue, neighbors say they’re hopeful this week’s tragedies serve as reminders for students to be smart and careful. But some fear it will not.

“They don’t use the crosswalk. They don’t obey the signal,” Mike Leslie said.

Leslie has lived across from the high school for more than 20 years.

“I’m shocked several of them haven’t been run over by now,” he said.

For some parents, like Patrice Palmer, the tragedies have brought about change. She’s waiting in her car just outside Walnut Ridge High School – she usually lets her son walk home.

“I don’t feel safe for my child so I’m here to pick them up,” Palmer said.

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