Family, friends honor pedestrian killed on Scott Boulevard, advocate for intersection improvementsPeople let go of balloons during a balloon release and rally for Quanisha Ball on Sunday, Jan. 15, 2023. Ball died after being struck by a car as she crossed Scott Boulevard in Greater Decatur on Nov. 17, 2022. Photo by Dean Hesse.
Greater Decatur, GA — Quanisha Ball was one of a kind, there was no one like her. She was loving, family oriented, and real. She spoke her mind, and her light shined brightly on those who knew her.
“She was just Quanisha,” said Courtney Thompkins, Ball’s mother. “She was just one of a kind. No one else can be in her shoes.”
On Nov. 17, 2022, Ball died after being hit by a Dodge Challenger while she was crossing Scott Boulevard in Greater Decatur. The driver did remain on the scene. But Ball’s family wants answers about what happened to her and they’re asking local officials to make the crossing safer for pedestrians.
Ball was 31 when she died.
“He took a big part of us. No one can replace that,” Thompkins said.
On Jan. 15, Thompkins, along with family and friends, gathered at a dog park on Scott Boulevard near Blackmon Drive to release red and gold biodegradable balloons in honor of Ball. They also advocated for local cities, the county and the state to work toward improving the intersection and conditions for pedestrians.
“As I feel her standing here, I feel she wants me to save somebody else’s life,” Thompkins said. “She doesn’t want her life to be in vain. I feel she wanted to say [to me], ‘Mom, fix these things that took my life away from me. Even though I can’t come back, my life is able to save somebody else’s life.’ That’s what’s important to her and to me and our family.”
She hopes some improvements like flashing lights, a speed bump or a median can be installed at the intersection to increase pedestrian safety. Thompkins also wants more businesses in the area to have cameras. She suggested that the county or cities should have traffic cameras.
According to the nonprofit Smart Growth America, Georgia is one of the deadliest states in the country for pedestrians. Georgia ranked No. 9, with 1,261 pedestrian deaths between 2016 and 2020.
Valerie Handy-Carey, who attended the Jan. 15 event in solidarity with Ball’s family, experienced a similar tragedy last year, too. Her daughter, Brittany Patriece Glover, was struck and killed on Sept. 19, 2022 while crossing at Donald Lee Hollowell Parkway at Finely Avenue in Atlanta as she was leaving Bonfire ATL.
The driver, however, never stopped and Handy-Carey is still seeking justice for her daughter as well. No arrests have been made in either case. Both mothers attended the balloon release and rally seeking justice for their daughters.
“I don’t understand how it keeps happening and leadership has not responded. To me, one life taken should be enough to have the community outraged and up in arms, let alone a series of the same thing. It should become a priority at some point to somebody,” Handy-Carey said.
Glover had just started a new job as a flight attendant for Spirit Airlines when she moved to Atlanta last September. She was 33 when she died.
Thompkins also organized the balloon release and rally in an effort to bring more awareness to pedestrian rights.
“It’s kind of like you’re playing Russian roulette with your life on these streets,” Thompkins said during the event. “Our goal here today is to see what we can do moving forward for this [county] here to do something at this intersection because they’re not giving us justice of arresting the driver who killed Quanisha. At the end of the day, he had a responsibility when he got his license to control his vehicle, and he did not control it.”
DeKalb Commissioner Michelle Long Spears and former commissioner Jeff Rader attended the rally. Long Spears said addressing the intersection will be a priority.
“We can, and we will do better,” Long Spears said. “We’ll figure it out, we’ll get to the bottom of it.”
The intersection of Scott Boulevard and Blackmon Avenue is in unincorporated DeKalb County, and Scott Boulevard is a state road.
As is often the case in pedestrian deaths, the initial police report blamed the pedestrian, saying she was outside the crosswalk when she was hit.
“Initial investigation indicates the female had darted out into traffic and was struck by a vehicle,” a spokesperson for the police department said. “The driver of the vehicle remained at the scene and is cooperating with investigators. Our Traffic Specialist Unit is handling the investigation.”
Thompkins and Ball’s manager are skeptical that Ball wasn’t in the crosswalk when she was hit. According to a review of the report, police only heard the driver’s account of what happened, and no other witnesses were available.
At the time of the crash, around 6 a.m., Ball would’ve been walking northwest across Scott Boulevard to catch the shuttle to work. If the police narrative is accurate, it would mean that Ball was walking outside the crosswalk on the northeast side, farther away from her destination.
Thompkins has questioned whether speed was a factor in this crash.
Ball went airborne when the Dodge Challenger hit her at the intersection of Scott Boulevard and Blackmon Drive, meaning she could’ve been knocked out of the crosswalk. While the report doesn’t say how fast the driver was going, the Challenger was damaged so badly that it had to be towed from the scene.
Thompkins said DeKalb Police need to continue investigating the incident.
“I’m going to get justice for Quanisha, some way, somehow,” Thompkins said.
Editor and Publisher Dan Whisenhunt contributed to this article.
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