(PHOTOS) World Day of Remembrance for crash victims held in DecaturEight-year-old Arlo Scharer holds a sign toward traffic during the safe streets organization Calm Decatur’s World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims event to commemorate victims of traffic violence on Sunday, Nov. 19, 2023, at South Candler Street and College Avenue in Decatur. Photo by Dean Hesse.
Decatur, GA — Around 30 people came together near the intersection of South Candler Street and College Avenue on Sunday, Nov. 19, to observe a World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims.
Safe streets organization Calm Decatur organized the event commemorating victims of traffic violence in Decatur.
“Sadly, we have fatalities and other incidents on our roadways that impact so many people,” Clam Decatur Board Member Laura Spriggs said. “Today is a day where we come together, and we think about them. As Calm Decatur, we’re trying to push for initiatives that will hopefully change that and make those numbers go down and not be so impactful on families.”
Leah Jenness, who attended with her family, spoke about her son Miles. He died in 2018 at age five from injuries he sustained when a driver struck his family’s vehicle while he was riding home from an after-school program with his father, Sam.
“Thank you to everyone gathered here today to remember, support and work together to protect others against future road traffic deaths,” Leah Jenness said. “Miles had started kindergarten a month and a half earlier and was loving it. Miles was a dreamer, always with big ideas in his mind to tell you about. He loved people. Seeing a neighbor at the grocery store was for him akin to seeing a celebrity. He would get so excited he would do a little dance.”
His mom recalled the circumstances of the crash that caused Miles’ death.
“Sam and Miles were stopped at a light at Midway and Candler. You can see our home from that light,” Leah Jenness said. “When a reckless driver sped up Midway directly into them without stopping, pushing them across the road and knocking out the back of our car. All the light of our world went out that day. It’s been five years for us. In that time I’ve learned a little bit about the effect our crash had on the police and first responders that day, how they haven’t forgotten, how they carry some of this trauma with them, the effect of the crash on eyewitnesses and prosecutors, and how our family and friends, neighbors and Miles’ teacher and classmates, all our neighbors family and friends all carry some of that devastation too.”
As the crowd gathered around, someone rang a bell and the crowd observed a moment of silence for victims of traffic violence.
Calm Decatur Board Member Tonio Andrade spoke about Vision Zero, an international movement to get to zero traffic deaths.
“This is something reachable and communities that have set out to do it and actually put some teeth behind it, they are getting there,” Andrade said. “In America, and especially in Atlanta and Decatur, Ga., we are not getting there. They haven’t even tried to declare it. We can do this, we can get to zero deaths, we can decrease injuries significantly, but what we need to do is have better infrastructure and police out there actually doing some enforcement. We need to have some accountability we have individual goals. Every intersection should be rethought.”
Recent crashes involving pedestrians have renewed public discussion about traffic safety in Decatur. Decatur police responded to four unrelated pedestrian crashes on Nov. 6, one of them fatal. Three drivers were cited and the driver accused of causing the fatal crash is facing criminal charges.
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