ALBANY, GA (WALB) - A tragic accident rocked East Albany just over half a year ago.
On September 16th, four children were struck by a car while walking to school. One was killed and two others seriously injured.
Now, the family of one the victims says the walk to school is still unsafe.
A tragic loss
Early on a Friday September morning Jahkara Arnold, her 8 year old sister Jahlana Arnold, and neighbors Antonio and Te-unna Shed were walking to school, when they were struck by a car crossing North Mock Road.
Antonio was killed.
It was a scene gruesome for even first responders.
"We were trying to help the ones who needed it," said Paramedic Heaven McDonald.
Paramedics say Jahkara's heart and breathing stopped several times.
"We got to her, just in time," said McDonald.
But paramedics never gave up.
"It means a lot of me, because if not for them my daughter would not be here right now. They brought her back alive," said mother, Ada Arnold.
Another hero saluted is 9 year old Antonio Shed, Junior. Jahlana was not hurt badly because she says Antonio pushed her out of the way of the car.
"Little Tony. God Bless Him. We miss him. Saved her by pushing her. He's our super hero," said Arnold.
Jahkara spent six weeks in Atlanta rehabilitation hospitals.
Now, she has pins, rods, and plates in her arm, hip and leg. But those are not slowing her down.
She also suffered brain injuries, and that recovery could be more difficult.
But these paramedics say they believe in Jahkara, because her recovery is truly miraculous.
"Absolutely. We always love to see outcomes like this. This makes the job so much more worthwhile," said Radano.
What has been done?
After the accident, Albany city and Dougherty County School leaders talked a lot about the cross walk where they were struck, and making improvements to better protect children.
But what has been done? WALB's Jim Wallace discovered, if anything, that cross walk is less safe now.
He went to the North Mock Road cross walk, and found both school zone warning signs in disrepair.
Ada Arnold tells us they were damaged by the January storms.
One school zone sign is bent to the ground. The other is twisted where on coming cars can not see it.
The memorial for Antonio Shed still stands by the cross walk.
After the crash city officials talked about the absolute need for sidewalks near schools.
Arnold agrees, saying their morning walk to school is a challenge.
"Yes, I do. Because there is no sidewalk. We have to walk on the bank where the grass is. And then there is glass in the grass. And junk in the grass where we have to walk to get to the cross walk," said Arnold.
Albany city officials say they continue to work on installing more sidewalks near school zones, but it will cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to make a real improvement citywide.
They say funding is in the next SPLOST tax cycle, but that could still be years.
So 8 months after the deadly crash that saddened and shocked this community, real improvements are still pending.
A miraculous recovery
Jahkara Arnold, 10, was critically injured, but her mother credits paramedics quick work with saving her.
Recently, three of those paramedics met with the Arnold family, who wanted to express their thanks. And the paramedics admit they were shocked during this reunion.
Paramedics admit they were stunned when they saw Jahkara Arnold, now 11, at her East Albany home.
The last time they saw her almost every bone on the left side of her body was broken.
"She actually picked you up and carried you to the ambulance," said Dougherty EMS Director Greg Rowe.
"You've gotten taller. How are you mama?" asked paramedic Heaven McDonald. Ada Arnold responded "Fine, thank you."
The paramedics were shocked then to see Jahkara run, jump and dance.
She now uses the wheelchair ramp built for her as a balance beam.
"She's a lot better now than when we first seen her, and that's for sure. I'm so glad this recovery came out the way it did," said paramedic Pete Radano.
An 11 year old child, close to death in a tragic accident, now with a bright future.
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