When a student was hit and killed while walking to Dakota High School on Friday in Macomb Township, it brought back unbearable memories. This isn’t the first time this has happened.
The driver involved in another crash in 2011 decided to speak out after seeing an all too familiar tragedy.
“It has changed my life forever,” said Danielle Leedy.
Danielle Leedy dropped her son off at Dakota High School in March 2011. She then started on her way to work. In the darkness, she says she didn’t see a student jaywalking to avoid going where there was no sidewalk along 21 Mile Road at LaGrande.
“The pain is so intense. It stays with you. I can’t even imagine the other side,” said Leedy.
Leedy was driving below the speed limit when she hit her son’s schoolmate, 18-year-old Neeosha Nelson. Nelson later died at the hospital.
When she heard that another crash took the life of a student on Friday, she couldn’t stop thinking about how similar the accidents were.
Both happened on some of the darkest mornings of the year, around daylight savings time changes. Both Neeosha Nelson and 14-year-old Victoria Cartwright appeared to have jaywalked in areas where there was no continuous sidewalk and no street lights. Both accidents happened just outside of school speed zones.
“I think if you are going into an area where there is a set of schools, there should be plenty of crosswalks, adequate lighting like a football field, so everyone can see at a great distance what is in front of them,” said Leedy.
After Neeosha died, Danielle advocated for a lower speed limit, more sidewalks and lights, but didn’t get close to all she asked for. A short stretch of sidewalk was installed where her accident happened. There are still many other areas around the school without continuous sidewalks.
Macomb County Sheriff Anthony Wickersham says it is too soon to say whether more sidewalks could have saved Victoria’s life.
“We can talk about putting more lights and sidewalks in, but first we have to look at what was the cause of this fatality and how can we prevent it in the future,” said Sheriff Wickersham.
He said his crash investigation team is not yet done looking into what happened. For now he is calling on parents to talk to their kids about jaywalking on these busy roads.
Leedy says she won’t stop fighting for change in honor of now not one teen who died trying to get to school, but two.
“It is something I have to live with because of one moment in time on a dark busy road,” said Leedy.