11-year-old elementary school student hit by car on road neighbors say is dangerous

Posted at 5:11 PM, Apr 04, 2018
and last updated 2018-04-04 19:23:40-04

OZONA, Fla. — A Pinellas County neighborhood wants change after a driver hit an 11-year-old Ozona Elementary student that darted across the street after school let out.

He was not in a crosswalk and witnesses say he was on the phone. They also say the driver didn't have time to stop or react. Officials say he is expected to be OK.

A woman who saw the crash sat with the boy until paramedics showed up. She says he kept apologizing and in the Florida Highway Patrol report, he told police he knows better than to cross outside of a crosswalk and without looking both ways. 

Neighbors say it's bumper to bumper traffic on Tampa Road in the morning and afternoon hours when school starts up and lets out.

Dan Riese, who owns the auto body shop down the street says sometimes cars drive onto the grass shoulders to get around traffic but come dangerously close to kids that walk and bike.

He watches the chaos from his business every day.

"People get aggravated, honking the horn, some of them get out of their car and yell," he said.

"Drivers are frustrated, and angry and irritated and they are impatient. They behave badly, you see all sorts of things out there in the morning," said Jennifer Eaton, a mother of 4 with kids at Ozona Elementary school. "I think it's only a matter of time before something more serious happens there."

She doesn’t believe the road was meant to handle all the traffic and says the county needs to re-evaluate it. Neighbors are also concerned about the added traffic from a new apartment complex being built across the street.

"It’ll just add to it, it will be another 50 cars," said Riese.

Eaton says the road needs flashing lights and school zone signs. She also thinks parents need to remind their kids about safety.

"One split second choice can change their life forever so talk to them about how they’re getting to school and try to make sure they are doing it safely," she said.

Parents agree, the crossing guards do a very good job but are also very busy.

One thing Pinellas County and the school district did, was open up an entrance and exit onto the Pinellas trail for kids walking and biking. 

If you have concerns or ideas about how to make the road safer, contact the county and school district want to hear from you. Click here for details.