DEKALB JUNCTION — State lawmakers are introducing a bill calling for the reduction of the speed limit outside Hermon-DeKalb Central School following a car crash that was recently captured on a school surveillance camera.
Sen. Patricia A. Ritchie, R-Heuvelton, and 117th District Assemblyman Kenneth D. Blankenbush, in a joint news release Thursday, announced the introduction of the bill following the increased number of car crashes in front of the school.
A Jan. 23 car crash at Route 11 and East DeKalb Road left an 8-year-old Hermon-DeKalb Central School girl with a broken collarbone, school Superintendent Mark E. White said, leading to a petition seeking a speed reduction.
“This is not something we can put off until someone is seriously hurt or worse — we must be proactive and make this change before it is too late,” Mr. White said in the release. “As educators, we want the very best for our students and families, and reducing the speed limit outside of our school is one way we can make sure our school is safer and our students can focus on their education.”
The crash was captured on the school’s video and it shows Kendra Anson’s stopped vehicle at the light in the northbound lane, waiting for oncoming traffic, including a school bus, to pass so she can turn. In a matter of moments, a fast-paced van comes into frame and makes a last-second effort to avoid colliding completely with the rear end of Ms. Anson’s car by pulling into the right turning lane.
Ms. Anson said she, her husband, their 12 year-old son and 8-year-old daughter were in their car at the time, waiting to turn left on East DeKalb Road to drop the kids off at school.
The driver of the van was left with a broken hand, Thursday’s news release announced, the first time the injury was reported.
But it was not that crash alone that Sen. Ritchie and Assemblyman Blankenbush said led to their introducing the joint bill, but an increasing number of crashes at that intersection.
The newly introduced legislation would reduce the speed limit on the stretch of roadway running adjacent to the school and, in turn, protect the safety of students, families and educators.
Car crashes are not uncommon at the intersection, Mr. White told the Times following the Jan. 23 crash. He said almost a year to the day of the Jan. 23 crash, one of the school faculty members was involved in a crash that could have killed her.
In the bill by Sen. Ritchie and Assemblyman Blankenbush, the speed limit on Route 11 would be reduced from 55 mph to 35 mph on a half-mile portion of roadway near the school.
“There have been far too many accidents on this dangerous stretch of roadway—a stretch that each and every day sees cars and buses bringing young children to and from school,” Sen. Ritchie said in the release. “I fear that it’s only a matter of time before a more serious accident occurs. Lowering the speed limit just before and just after the school is the least we can do to better protect children and those responsible for getting them to and from school each day.”
Assemblyman Blankenbush said he was “proud to be working alongside Senator Ritchie to protect our residents” and that “too many individuals in our community have been injured in accidents occurring at this intersection. We can’t continue to put any more lives at risk.”
Along with Mr. White, St. Lawrence County Legislator Larry D. Denesha assisted in passing around the petition seeking the reduction in speed and contacting state lawmakers for assistance in reaching the goal.
“As a graduate of Hermon-DeKalb Central, I have heard and seen, firsthand, the dangers our families face attempting to bring their children to school,” Mr. Denesha said. “This stretch of roadway presents a clear and present danger and changing the speed limit has the support of not only school officials, but all of our community.”
In addition to this bill, the Hermon-DeKalb Central School District has created an online petition that people can sign to show their support for lowering the speed limit on U.S. Route 11 near the school. You can sign the petition by visiting https://www.hdcsk12.org/hdcs.