Danger Zone: One year after a deadly crash, what's been accomplished?

Danger Zone: One year after a deadly crash, what's been accomplished?
The memorial for Antonio Shed still stands by the cross walk. (Source: WALB)
The memorial for Antonio Shed still stands by the cross walk. (Source: WALB)
Tony Shed (Source: Facebook)
Tony Shed (Source: Facebook)
Jahkara and Ada Arnold (Source: Ada Arnold)
Jahkara and Ada Arnold (Source: Ada Arnold)

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - It's been more than 13 months since an Albany child was killed and several others hurt when they were struck by a car walking to school.

The city and the Dougherty County School System said they were going to make improvements to school zone crossings and sidewalks to protect children.

But has anything been accomplished? WALB's Jim Wallace went back to check.

September 16, 2016, three children were struck by a car while walking in a school zone crossing on North Mock Road, headed to Turner Elementary.

Tony Shed, 9, was killed in the crash. Jahkara Arnold, 10, suffered multiple broken bones and head trauma.

The investigation revealed the kids were crossing the school zone before it's posted time, and no crossing guard was on duty yet.

City officials pledged to improve sidewalks and crossing zones to prevent more tragedies.

But 13 months later, Jahkara Arnold's mother said she is still waiting.

"They still haven't fixed nothing. I don't understand," said Ada Arnold.

Today there have been small improvements in the Turner Elementary school zone, but city officials said more is coming.

"See this will be ideal from the Broad Street Bridge down to Walmart," said Albany City Commissioner Jon Howard.

MORE: Injured students improve, as city studies pedestrian safety

Howard showed me the sidewalk improvements on School Street, widened and smoothed after the fatal crash. Howard said the city has almost $2.5 million in collected tax funds to pay for miles of more sidewalks and school zone crossings across the city.

But buying the property rights to build those sidewalks has hit some stone walls.

"I won't say we would have too much contentions of court litigation, but if it is, then we can go in and use eminent domain and give the fair market value," said Howard.

Still today, you see dozens of children walking on busy East Broad Avenue with no sidewalks.

School officials say they wait on those promised improvements.

"We praying every day they get them soon. We need them," said Dougherty County School Police Assistant Chief Mack Green.

Dougherty County School Police did make sure the school crossing times were extended to allow for early and late walkers for meals. We checked several school crossings, and the crossing guards were there at least 30 minutes before the students were released.

"It's a serious job. You always got to be careful. It's hard sometimes to get the traffic to stop," said Green.

We saw that for ourselves. Even with the school zone lights flashing, cars and trucks sped by much faster. Those drivers are the biggest concern for crossing guards.

"A lot of the time people just being speeding to get to work. And they just don't see the crossing guard," said Green.

Thirteen months after being violently struck by a driver who did not see them, Jahkara Arnold and the rest of the students in her neighborhood now have their own special bus that takes them to school and brings them home, to keep them from crossing Mock Road.

"It makes me feel a lot safer and happier for the kids as well," said Arnold.

But many other kids across the city, they still wait for sidewalks. City leaders say they are moving as quickly as they can.

"And we certainly are trying to make sure that we don't another fatality in a school zone," said Howard.

Ada Arnold said she hopes parents keep the pressure on city commissioners to get the sidewalks poured as soon as possible.

The biggest grade on all of the work since the fatal crash, so far no other children have been struck.  That is the only judgment that truly matters.

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