JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - It's been more than ten months since 15-year-old Lizzy Ross was hit and killed by a car while walking from her home on Alden Road to Sandalwood High School. Her grandmother, Cynthia Weiss, is incredulous that no crosswalks existed in the area then, or now.
"I really think the City needs to consider the kids’ safety," Weiss said Friday, lamenting that as another school year begins, only elementary schools in Jacksonville are required to be considered school zones for traffic purposes.
"There’s a lot of neighborhood kids that walk. Okay, they have crossing guards for the elementary," she noted.
Lizzy lived at her family's apartment on Alden Road, only about 1,000 feet from school property. Weiss said Lizzy had been a proud member of the color guard and was striving to finish high school ahead of schedule.
Although the point where the 15-year-old sophomore tried to cross might not be considered a typical location for a crosswalk, indeed there are no crosswalks on any of the perimeter roads or corners surrounding Sandalwood. Weiss pointed to the closest one she knows.
"For this one, there’s a crosswalk all the way down there at the light," she said, pointing under the Interstate 295 overpass to an intersection about a quarter-mile away in the opposite direction from the school.
Weiss did talk with school officials, not knowing the school district can't make rules or decisions about traffic near school properties. She acknowledged that she has no idea whether Lizzy would still be alive if a crosswalk had been accessible.
"I honestly can’t answer that question," she said.
But as a new school year dawns, she affirmed her belief that other lives might be saved in the future by what she believes would be a small expenditure.
"To put in the crosswalks for these children, for their safety, will not cost the City a lot of money for that paint," she said.