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Village Looks to Improve Safety in Light of Tragedy

The Village of Skokie is planning on furthering discussions regarding traffic flow after an 8-year-old boy was killed while on his bicycle by a driver allegedly on drugs.

was front and center at Monday’s village board meeting as officials and parents contemplate what can be done to improve traffic safety around Skokie’s schools and parks.

Eight-year-old Carter was killed last month when he was riding his bicycle near the intersection of Main Street and St. Louis Avenue following a three-car collision. The Cook County State’s Attorney has charged Hanin Goma, 23, of Skokie, with felony aggravated driving while under the influence and several traffic violations. Her bond was set at $250,000 and her next court date is June 12, according to a State’s Attorney’s spokeswoman.

In the wake of the accident, Mayor George Van Dusen assembled a committee that will have Trustee Randy Roberts as its chairman and will have representatives of the schools, police and village staff to look at traffic data and make recommendations. This committee has solicited a report from a traffic-engineering firm to see how safety can be improved around all schools.

“It is the worst possible thing any human being can ever imagine,” Van Dusen said. “We will find a solution to this. I think we need to dedicate this to Carter and his family.”

Jim McNelis, the President of School Board 73.5, told the village board Monday night, “We must do better; the status quo is certainly not an option.”

A meeting is scheduled for next week at McCracken Middle School as members of the community will be asked to give suggestions to an ad hoc committee led by Trustee Randy Roberts.

Watch:

McNelis addressed two major concerns about Main Street: The speed of the traffic on the thoroughfare and vehicles coming onto Main from side streets due to the lack of stop signs. He believes the drivers are forced to use aggressive techniques to merge into traffic.

McNelis wants to see stop signs around intersections near schools and the parks, not just on Main Street, but throughout the village.

Kate Donegan, the superintendent of 73.5, also spoke to the village board during the meeting, echoing many of the sentiments made by McNelis.

Melina Kelson, an 11-year resident of Skokie with a child at School District 73.5, has an online petition calling for a series of changes that have been endorsed by approximately 300 people. She would also like to see further exploration on the idea of speed bumps, which the village has frowned on in the past citing fears of slowing down public safety and emergency vehicles.

“I’m not a traffic engineer,” Kelson said. “I’m just a concerned parent. I’m willing to hear their argument why they don’t have them in place.”

Van Dusen said he would like to see the changes in place by the start of the 2012-13 school year. In the meantime, Roberts wants solid information to work off of, before any changes can be put in place.

“I think people know we should slow down and see what some of the professional recommendations are,” Roberts said. “That doesn’t mean the citizens shouldn’t have input. They live there and they know what conditions are like on a day-to-day basis. But I think we need to get that first step done, that baseline traffic study and then we start looking at stop signs and other signage.”

While discussing the sadness he and everyone felt about Vo’s death, Roberts acknowledged the alleged crime would have been hard to stop under most circumstances.

“This was also criminal conduct,” he said. “You can have all the traffic signals in the world and someone runs and disobeys them and drives recklessly. That doesn’t mean we can’t try and do better.”

Roberts also serves as the liaison to the village’s public safety committee and their next meeting is scheduled for June 13 where he believes this incident will also be discussed. He said in the wake of Carter’s death that more complaints have come in about traffic near the intersection of Main Street and St. Louis Avenue, even though the village did make some changes to the area in recent years.

“Especially now more and more complaints have surfaced about drivers going too fast with close calls and children there,” he said. “There has been quite a bit of police enforcement activity.”

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Hank June 06, 2012 at 01:23 PM
Ok so we have a driver on drugs ignoring everything in her path. So how is a traffic light or anything else going to correct this? The problem has already been identified. It seems we are unable to correct the real problem so we "select" another problem and pretend to have resolved the issue. Are we supposed to believe that a traffic light will instantly bring a drug user or drunk back to being sober?
Skokie Mike June 06, 2012 at 01:53 PM
Thank you.
EM June 06, 2012 at 03:40 PM
i live on cleveland street (by oakton & crawford heading towards skokie blvd), the stretch of cleveland by my house has literally no stop signs on cleveland going towards skokie blvd or crawford for at least 7-8 blocks (all stop signs are at the intersection going east/west so we have maniacs that drive on cleveland as if it is a main street, because its such a big stretch of just "free" street and theres NEVER any cops here to catch them!!!
howard kirschner June 06, 2012 at 03:45 PM
I agree with Hank, and I am sure Skokie will overreact.
MKP June 06, 2012 at 05:42 PM
The cabbie that hit the school bus fille with kindergarteners at the same intersection two days later wasn't on drugs.
Earl Weiss June 06, 2012 at 08:30 PM
"MKP The cabbie that hit the school bus fille with kindergarteners at the same intersection two days later wasn't on drugs." OK, how is this going to work? The cabbie that can't stop to keep from running into a (by comparison) giant yellow school bus was somehow going to be able to stop for a sign?
Earl Weiss June 06, 2012 at 08:32 PM
Really? Skokie that makes kids criminals for not wearing helmets when riding bikes might over react? Never!
Terry Velez June 07, 2012 at 12:13 PM
As a 36year Skokie resident raising a 10 year old daughter my heart goes out to the Vo family! This story is really affected me because it is so close to home. I can only begin to imagine the loss. Where I live there are a lot of children roaming the streets un attended by a responsible adult and there a not enough 4 way stops.! I am not here to pass judgement on anyone elses parenting skills as I am not perfect however, My daughter is not allow to go down the block or cross the road with out supervision. We just don't live in that world any more , and Skokie has changed! ! It's imperative that there be more Traffic signals, stop lights, signs that say slow down, children at play, !! Lighted Traffic speed limit signs. This these things cannot undo any tragic events that have past but it may just prevent one life from being taken. That is worth it to me! You can't stop someone from drinking or taking drugs and getting behind the wheel , but it is our job as citizens of skoke to do what we can to help make our community safer then yesterday.. Pleasemake lamon&davis a 4 way stop!!!

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