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'Dangerous' Intersection Where Samyra Lee, 7, Killed Needs Help: Neighbors

By Evan F. Moore | June 6, 2016 8:25am
 A 7-year-old girl was struck and killed by tractor in the 6500 block of South Ashland Avenue on May 28.
A 7-year-old girl was struck and killed by tractor in the 6500 block of South Ashland Avenue on May 28.
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DNAinfo/Evan F. Moore

WEST ENGLEWOOD — After a 7-year-old girl was killed crossing the street near a West Englewood elementary school late last month, parents and neighbors are saying something needs to be done to make the intersection of 65th Street and Ashland Avenue safer. 

Around 7:45 a.m. May 27, Samyra Lee and her mother were crossing the street "against the signal" in the 6500 block of Ashland when a tractor struck her, according to Officer Ana Pacheco, a Chicago Police Department spokeswoman. She later died from her injuries. The tractor driver was working for a city contractor.

Many of the parents and neighbors who send their kids to Providence Englewood Charter School: Ralph A. Bunche Campus told DNAinfo that people who use the intersection often have to "take their chances" to get across.

They say the red light is so long that to be able to cross Ashland in a timely fashion, you always have to use the pedestrian push button to get the light to change — and even then you have to wait a long time.

They also say the intersection needs a crossing guard.

Emma Lofton had just dropped off her niece when she saw Samyra and her mother in the street after the girl was hit.

"A lot of people push the button because it takes too long for the light to change. There's no crossing guard there," Jones said. "The mom was in the safety zone [the crosswalk in the intersection] when I saw her and the baby [Samyra]. That was kind of rough."

Lofton said the image of seeing Samyra and her mother in the street will stay with her. Lofton said Providence Englewood starts school at 7:30 a.m. so most of the students were inside.

"To see that girl and her mother begging for an ambulance, I'm not a doctor but it looked like she was already gone," Lofton said. "I've been crying ever since I saw it. I hope they have some counseling for the youngsters at the school."

Regina Mayden lives across the street from the school and has heard her neighbors and parents complain about the traffic lights. She said people normally do not wait for the pedestrian push button to change the light to green because they believe in takes way too long. 

"A lot of people do what that lady did with her daughter" by crossing against the light, Mayden said.

City officials said they are looking into the situation.

"We will be reviewing the case, as we do with all fatal pedestrian crashes," said Michael Claffey, a Chicago Department of Transportation spokesman. "It was obviously a heartbreaking loss."

A staff member for Ald. Toni Foulkes (16th) said there used to be crossing guards at the intersection when it was Ralph A. Bunche Elementary School, but since Providence Englewood, a charter school, took over the buildings that is no longer the case.

Providence Englewood principal Angela Johnson-Williams could not be reached after repeated attempts for comment. 

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