Moms join speeding crackdown after teen's death

BLOOMINGDALE, Fla. - Drivers speeding by the small memorial beside Bloomingdale Avenue at Las Brisas Drive in Riverview see it as a quick flash of color.

For the mother of the 13-year-old who died there last November, the memory of what happened will linger forever.

"I held her when she was born and I held her when she died," Katharine Bower said.

Katharine's daughter, Andrea, was an 8th grader at Giunta Middle School. She was proud of her perfect attendance record, so when she missed the school bus by a few seconds the morning of November 16, she raced across Bloomingdale to catch it.

The driver of the SUV which hit Andrea told ABC Action News she couldn't stop in time. Katharine made it to Tampa General Hospital just before Andrea died.

"I laid in the bed with her and I held her," Katharine cried. "I told her that it was OK to go."

The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office calls it a tragic accident, but they call Bloomingdale one of the county's most dangerous roads, given the high rate of speed drivers often use to relieve frustration about certain areas of congestion.

"Bloomingdale has had numerous traffic crashes," explained Cpl. Gregory Wynn.  "The level of the frequency of cars on this road is very high.  We want, at the Sheriff's Office, to be part of the equation of making the road safer."

According to Cpl. Wynn and FDOT, Bloomingdale is currently 60% over capacity.  It's a constant focus for HCSO, which conducted 2,090 traffic stops on the highway last year, and issued 1,695 citations.

"Be patient.  Look out for traffic around you.  Be attentive and aware," said Cpl. Wynn.

Now, Katharine is joining the efforts to crack down on speed, along with Starsha Davis, whose son sat with Andrea beside the road while they waited for an ambulance.  The two women never met until the accident.

"Look, you can feel the cars as they go by you, the wind," Davis said. "It's aggravating.  It's very, very aggravating to me."

The two women are most angered by the amount of traffic that speeds by the school buses, even though the law requires drivers to stop on both directions.

Davis has filmed tens of cars flying by stopped buses as kids file out.  Sometimes, she screams at drivers, hoping they'll brake.

Starsha and Katharine hold signs with a message for drivers: slow down and save kids' lives.  "It's as simple as stopping.  That's all we're asking is for them to stop," Davis said.

The two women admit, holding signs is a pretty simple act, and they're not sure it does much.

Then again, just like the ashes Katharine wears on her necklace, small acts composed Andrea's short, but full, life.

"She truly believed that one person could change the world and that's what she wanted to do."

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