Girl's death prompts calls to make roadway safer

(KGO)
September 28, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
Investigators have found no fault with a driver who collided head-on with a girl riding her bike in Novato, but there are still calls to make the stretch of road safer where it happened. Tragically, the impact killed 12-year-old Hailey Ratliff.

The collection of flowers and cards at a Hailey's memorial on Novato Boulevard grew all day long Friday as people stopped there and talked about the traffic accident. Hailey was riding her bike home from school when she was hit head-on there by an SUV at about 3 p.m. She was taken first to a Novato hospital then flown to Children's Hospital Oakland where she died at about 5:30 p.m.

She was a 7th-grader at Sinaloa Middle School which called in grief counselors for Friday and next week. "There aren't words that express the sorrow and loss that you feel when a child's life is taken, so the pain is deep," said Principal Mary Pritchard. Hailey had just moved to Novato from Albuquerque, New Mexico, but had adjusted well and made friends quickly. Nani Coyle and her daughter showed her around the school when she first arrived. Nani described Hailey as "beautiful, loving, outgoing, and her mother as well."

Hailey's death might be a catalyst for some changes along Novato Boulevard. "It's a scary road," Lisa Lucchesi told ABC7 News. She walks right past the spot where Hailey was killed every day. She says everyone there knows it's dangerous with the speed limit at 45 miles per hour for miles of open road until all of a sudden, right where Hailey was hit, it changes with no warning. "And if you look at the sign here, that's the first indication if you were coming from West Marin that there's a school. If you don't know this area, it's deceptive. It's 35 yet it's 25. It says 'school,' but just the little yellow sign, and you can't see it because the tree is covering it," she explained.

Bicyclist Bob Cullinan rides there once a week. "There's really no shoulder here and we're in a stretch of road where the drivers go 45 miles an hour or so. Honestly, and this is hard to say, but I'm surprised there aren't more accidents out here," he said.


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