EPA council considers crosswalk safety measures

October 5, 2011 1:03:44 AM PDT
There is a demand for safety improvements in East Palo Alto. Residents want the city to upgrade a crosswalk where a young boy was injured earlier this year and a little girl died just last week. Sioreli Torres Zamora, 6, was killed on her way to school. She was in the crosswalk at Bay Road and Gloria Way when she was hit by a car.

At the East Palo Alto City Council meeting Tuesday night, residents made it clear they want improvements at that intersection. It has been a traffic hotspot. So far this year, police have stopped 62 drivers and gave out 19 tickets, mostly for failing to stop for school buses and pedestrians.

At the spot where a little girl was struck and killed last week, children cross Bay Road and look at the growing memorial, but some adults are trying to do much more.

East Palo Alto resident Cristina Pulido gathered more than 400 petition signatures asking the city to make safety improvements at the intersection where Sioreli was killed last week walking to school with her mother.

"I was hit by a car in front of my house when I was 5 years old, coming home from school and it touched my heart to know that this little girl will never see her adolescent years or her adulthood," said Pulido.

She presented her petition to the city council which is trying to figure out how to make crosswalks safer. City officials say they have made improvements like re-doing crosswalk lines so they are brighter. But residents are calling for bolder changes like flashing lights, more stop signs and more crossing guards.

"So we believe it's going to be a combination of probably enhancing some of the structural designs, the traffic designs there, increased enforcement, and definitely increase education," said East Palo Alto Police Chief Ron Davis.

Davis says investigators have indentified 20 more possible witnesses to last week's crash. The driver is 49-year-old Alisha White Parker, a teacher in the district. On Friday residents protested the police department, upset she was not arrested on the spot.

"The evidence on the scene would not have justified an arrest. In fact, I think it would have hindered the investigation completely. We would have had 48 hours to present the case in front of a judge. The only thing we would have had was just the evidence gathered at the time, no additional witnesses, not a complete picture," said Davis.

Police are hoping to give the case to the District Attorney a week or so for possible charges. The city is hoping that government money can help them implement changes, but to put in things like stoplights and stop signs they will have to meet some strict guidelines.


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