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Polk County Commission to vote on safety measures for road where 2 men were killed

Einlazner Gore and Antonio Smiley
Posted at 10:10 PM, Aug 05, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-08 05:45:09-04

KATHLEEN, Fla — Einlanzer Gore, 19, died on October 2, 2021. Earlier this week, exactly 10 months to the day he died, his family got an answer they'd been waiting on all this time.

"I'm definitely excited. I'm happy that our voices got heard," said Gore's mother, Yaica Irizarry.

Their call has been for sidewalks and better lighting along 1st Street Northwest in Kathleen. Gore was killed on that road while walking.

"We, unfortunately, know the heartbreak of losing a child, and we don't want nobody else to feel that. Not if we can help it on our part," said Irizarry.

And it's a call that was amplified after a second man, 36-year-old Antonio Smiley, was killed on that same road two months later.

"December 5 is always going to be etched in my mind. It's like they ripped my soul out of me," said his mother, Sara Smiley.

The Polk County Sheriff's Office is still looking for the driver that hit and killed Smiley.

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"To the person who hit and killed my son, just bring yourself forward," said Sara.

To help keep this from happening again, the Polk County Sidewalk Advisory Committee (SAC) asked that the county use some of its 2022-23 budget to build sidewalks there. It's one of nine projects they approved, and it will cost about a million dollars.

But for the families of Smiley and Gore, it's a small price to pay in the quest to save lives — that for them has on just begun.

"I'm in it for the long haul. I believe in tenacity. I'm worse than a little pitbull I've bit in, and I'm not going to let go," said Sara.

"This is just the tip of the iceberg. I need to get that goal set first, but I don't believe that my fight for pedestrian safety is going to stop here," said Irizarry.

It's important to note that this isn't a done deal just yet. The final decision on sidewalks there now goes on to the Polk County Board of County Commissioners, who will need to approve the budget request.

They'll begin budget hearings in September.