|Published:||Feb 17, 2012 12:25 AM EST|
|Updated:||Feb 17, 2012 1:05 AM EST|
LEHIGH ACRES, Fla. - A car hit a Lehigh teen as she crossed the major intersection of Lee Boulevard and Gunnery Road to get to school. A WINK News Call for Action investigation reveals that it wasn't the first time someone has been struck at that same intersection, but the sixth.
If you drive through Lehigh Acres you know the intersection of Gunnery Road and Lee Boulevard. What happened at the intersection in January left a lasting impression on the students at Lehigh High school. Their classmate and friend Yvette Asselta almost lost her life just trying to get to school.
"I was as always-- I looked both ways before I crossed the street to see what is going on," Yvette said.
She told us that she always followed the traffic signs to cross.
"And then all of the sudden I felt like I was being shoved over. And at first I thought somebody came up behind me and shoved me to the ground. I didn't know what was going on," she told us.
A car turning left failed to yield and hit her.
"When I tried to get back up... I fell over. I was in so much pain," Yvette recalled.
An ambulance took her to the hospital where doctors discovered she had a broken eye socket and broken leg. Her mom met her at the hospital.
"She was still screaming in pain and a lot of agony and I just didn't know what to do," Starleigh Asselta told us. "It was mind boggling. This is something you don't think happens to one of your kids."
Yvette underwent surgery and had a rod put in her leg. Then Yvette and her mom called us and asked us to investigate. It was not easy for us to find out exactly how many people have been hurt at that intersection. That's because no one law enforcement agency keeps statistics. We had to make inquiries from three different agencies.
The Lee County Sheriff's Office only has one record of a pedestrian accident, Yvette's.
The Florida Highway Patrol told us it has one record of an accident. In March of 2011 a car failed to yield while turning left and hit two 15-year -old students who had the right of way in the crosswalk.
Meanwhile the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles found three accidents involving pedestrians. Two were from 2008 and one was from 2009.
Still, we found the danger of this intersection is well documented by our newscasts and by the Lee County Department of Transportation. In both 2009 and 2010, Lee County DOT included Lee Boulevard and Gunnery Road on its list of intersections with the highest number of accidents.
"I am definitely sure a parent could lose a child at that intersection," said Yvette's mom. "Especially after the first time. The second time. The third time. The fourth time."
We took our findings to Lieutenant Donald Fewell with the Lee County Sheriff's Office. He came out to inspect the intersection after reviewing crash reports.
"They were not yielding to pedestrians in the intersection. They have a green light to go but they have to yield to pedestrians," Lt. Fewell explained.
He says the crosswalk is well marked and a crossing guard would just make things worse.
"If the person didn't see the pedestrian they may not see the crossing guard and that would be my concern," he said.
Meanwhile, this intersection has left Yvette at her own crossroads. She hopes to enlist in the Air Force to help pay for college.
"I don't know. My leg might not ever fully recover. My leg could not ever be able to run as fast as I need to or have as much agility as I need," she said.
Lt. Fewell says clearly there's a problem with drivers not paying attention at the intersection and because of our story the sheriff's office plans to heighten its enforcement in the area. He also told us that he will address the intersection with the school board and see if this warrants a crossing guard, but he thinks increased enforcement along with pedestrian safety, should improve overall safety.