Family, friends plan vigil to mark the one-year anniversary of Quanisha Ball’s deathCourtney Thompkins (left) and Valerie Handy-Carey (right) hold hands during a balloon release and rally for Thompkins’ daughter Quanisha Ball, who was struck and killed by a car as she crossed Scott Boulevard in Greater Decatur on Nov. 17, 2022. Handy-Carey’s daughter Brittany Glover was killed by a hit and run driver as she walked across Donald Lee Hollowell Parkway in Northwest Atlanta on Sept. 17, 2022. Photo by Dean Hesse.
Greater Decatur, GA — Quanisha Ball died after a driver behind the wheel of a Dodge Challenger hit her while she was crossing Scott Boulevard in Greater Decatur on Nov. 17, 2022.
This Friday marks the one-year anniversary of her death. Family and friends plan to gather to honor her memory at 6:58 p.m. at the intersection of Blackmon Drive and Scott Boulevard.
There have been no charges in the incident, and a DeKalb Police spokesperson said the department has no updates on her case. The medical examiner ruled her death an “accident” but the investigation is still ongoing.
Here is the flyer promoting the vigil:
As is often the case in pedestrian deaths, the initial police report blamed the pedestrian, saying Ball was outside the crosswalk when she was hit.
Ball’s mother, Courtney Thompkins, and her former manager at Emory’s Winship Cancer Institute say that story doesn’t track with what they know about Ball, who was 31 when she died. She loved life. She was careful and responsible. And, as someone who regularly walked to get to work, she knew how dangerous Atlanta traffic could be.
The DeKalb County Police report suggests that the driver’s account of what happened is the only one that the investigator heard. The report lists no other witnesses.
The police report and interviews with people who knew Ball raise questions about the police department’s account of what happened on the morning of Nov. 17. Some details of the report stand out as worthy of further examination: 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.
The posted speed limit on Scott Boulevard is 45 miles per hour, according to the report. Data provided by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety show only four out of 10 pedestrians struck by a vehicle traveling at that speed survive, on average. The driver was not given a drug or alcohol test, the police report showed.
Yolanda Cephas knew something was wrong when Ball didn’t show up to work on Nov. 17.
Ball worked as a patient account representative at Winship Cancer Institute, where Cephas was her manager. Ball ran the front desk at the infusion center, getting patients ready for their appointments by ensuring their information was up-to-date and making appointments for people who didn’t have them. Ball had worked at the Cancer Institute for two years and was a stellar employee.
“She was always on time, always here when she was scheduled,” Cephas said. “That’s how I knew something wasn’t right.”
She also knew the route Ball took to work, noting that she walked from her apartment and crossed Scott Boulevard at Blackmon Drive to catch the Emory shuttle that arrives at nearby Medlock Plaza on North Decatur Road. When Cephas learned a driver struck Ball while she was crossing Scott Boulevard on her way to work, and that she was accused of being outside the crosswalk when she was hit, Cephas was skeptical.
Ball was not one to act recklessly when it came to traffic, Cephas said.
“I do not think she was not in that crosswalk,” Cephas said. “She had just had a conversation with another coworker the day before about crossing a multi-lane street. She told another coworker not to do it. She said do not cross because you’re not going to have enough time to do it. She told her how to take the shuttle.”
That stretch of road continues to be a problem for pedestrians.
A few weeks ago, a driver hit another pedestrian at Blackmon and Scott. The pedestrian, described as a young woman, was injured but declined to go to the hospital.
DeKalb Commissioner Michelle Long Spears previously said addressing this stretch of road is a priority for her. Her office is in touch with the Georgia Department of Transportation, and there’s a safety audit underway for this section of Scott Boulevard.
“We share the community’s interest in pedestrian safety, and we have been communicating with DeKalb County Police, DeKalb Transportation, and the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT),” Spears said in an email.
In terms of the safety audit, GDOT has studied the intersection and has a design for improvements that’s out for bid. Once that work begins, it will take about six months to complete, she said.
“The new design appears to greatly improve pedestrian safety and prioritization compared to the current scenario,” Spears said. “The project aims to provide enhancements to vulnerable roadway user safety and includes a new bulb out (which decreases crossing distance for pedestrians), new ADA ramps, and the installation of a new crosswalk across US78/Scott Blvd. The signal timing will also be enhanced, given the proposed changes.”
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