ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – The sounds of safety whistled through the intersection of Wetherbee Road and Landstar Boulevard Monday morning after Orange County officials added a second crossing guard for the first day of school.
The addition comes after a study by Orange County traffic engineers prompted by the death of 10-year-old Kevin Pope, who was killed while riding his bike home from Wetherbee Elementary School in April.
His mother, Adrienne Edmondson, saw the new crossing guard while visiting her son's memorial on what would have been his first day of middle school.
"I saw them," Edmonson said. "The first day of school, I came out and took a picture, I laid the balloons and put posters that said, 'My heavenly 6th grader.'"
Edmonson had a range of emotions Monday, especially after seeing a newly placed sign that read, "Turning Vehicles Yield to Pedestrians" at the same turn the semitruck was taking when troopers said the driver hit and killed Edmonson's son. At first, Edmonson said she felt anger.
"This is the first time I'm seeing this," Edmonson said. "It makes me angry it took my son's life to put up what was necessary from the beginning."
However, Edmonson said she later felt hopeful, finding what she said is the only good thing to come of the tragedy.
"Even if it saves one, it will mean the world to me, because Kevin cares. He cared about everyone. So if he can save a life, why not?"
The changes were made after the county's study of the intersection, which is about one block away from Wetherbee Elementary School, was complete.
"These school crossing guard warning studies, they take into account the number of people crossing the street, the width of the street, the traffic volume, the speed of the road and the availability of gaps for students to be able to cross the street," said Christine Lofye, a manager with the Traffic Engineering Division of the Orange County Public Works Department.
Staff have also installed school crossing signs at the north and west leg of the intersection, as well as a "Turning Vehicles Yield to Ped" sign on the east leg of the intersection for the new school crossing.
Staff have also modified pavement markings on Landstar Boulevard that will provide more room for semitrailers to make a right turn on Landstar Boulevard without tracking over the curb ramps and sidewalk.
"There's signs in place, there are crossing guards in place, now just stop being a distracted driver," Edmonson said.
Troopers said the semitruck driver who hit and killed Kevin in April still has not been located.
Anyone with information about the crash is asked to call Crimeline at 800-423-8477 and may be eligible for a $5,000 reward. Edmonson said the family has also set up their own reward hotline at 407-420-6699.