In the wake of Doug Carey's death, Clearwater crossing guards are sharing their safety concerns

CLEARWATER, Fla - They carry whistles and a stop sign and wear reflective vests and orange hats.

This is all crossing guards have to protect themselves and children from the thousands of pounds of steel whizzing by them each morning and afternoon.

"The job is very dangerous," said Norman Runkles, a police aide who supervises all the guards in the City of Clearwater.

Runkles discussed the rigorous training and selection process crossing guards undergo before they can hit the streets.

Florida law requires prospective crossing guards to undergo classroom training, practical training at a simulated crossing and supervised training in the field.

Guard candidates must all pass a written test and a field test.

"We try to hire police officers that are retired because of their experience level," Runkles said.

Doug Carey, who worked as a crossing guard at the corner of Gulf-to-Bay Boulevard and South Belcher Road, was a retired police officer. Carey was killed Tuesday morning when the driver of a Cadillac ran a red light, hit another car and then hit Carey.

"It is a huge loss for the community. It is a huge loss for the department," Runkles said.

Runkles is now working the corner where his friend died. He said his placement there will be temporary, and he does not anticipate having any trouble filling the spot despite the intersection being so dangerous.

The city ranks the intersection as the second highest for crashes.

In addition, red light camera data shows that in April 2014, more than 300 people ran the red light. In July 2013, more than 500 people ran the light.

Wednesday morning, a crossing guard told ABC Action News he spotted 13 people run the red light in less than an hour.

"You know how many people I saw reading texts, talking by phone, by cell...incredible," the guard said.

Runkles, who supervises all 67 employed crossing guards in the city, says guards rely on drivers obeying the lights and traffic laws.

"When drivers are cautious and they are looking around, they see that the guard is there, they slow down, all of that becomes a positive," Runkles said.

Runkles said parents can also help crossing guards do their job, and they don't even have to leave their home. He wants all parents to teach their children to look both ways before crossing a street and to also look behind them.

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