Grieving family wants to make site of traffic accident safer
By Denise Crosby firstname.lastname@example.org October 11, 2013 6:46PM
Stacey Wilcox-Fowler of Montgomery visits the site where her 14-year-old granddaughter Destinee was fatally struck a year ago while crossing Little Rock Road in Plano. | Denise Crobsy~Sun-Times Media
Updated: November 14, 2013 6:42AM
It’s been almost a year since Plano High freshman Destinee Fowler was struck by a car while crossing Little Rock Road on her way to classes.
Three months after the accident, she died from those injuries. And since then, the family has petitioned officials to try and make that stretch of road near Center Street a safer place for kids who often use it to cross to and from the school and parks.
The accident report indicated Destinee stepped into traffic around 7 a.m. Oct. 30, where a car clipped her and sent her flying 60 feet into the air. The driver was not ticketed. But the teen’s grandmother, Stacey Fowler of Aurora, strongly believes it should have been light enough at that time of morning for the driver to see the girl, and that a even a simple crosswalk could have prevented this tragedy.
That stretch of roadway that connects to Route 34 has received plenty of attention lately because of a proposal to build a roundabout three-fours of a mile further north of Center Street, where Little Rock Road intersects with Creek Road. According to county statistics, there have been more than two dozen accidents since 2000 on that road.
There seems to be little argument drivers travel too fast there. The $650,000 roundabout proposal, which was backed by the city of Plano, was defeated in a 5-5 vote recently by the Kendall County Board, mostly for cost reasons, with one board member arguing a better place to build it would be Center Street because it leads into a subdivision.
But Fowler said she would be content with flashing lights, speed bumps or even a crosswalk at that intersection.
“Isn’t a human life at least worth a bucket of paint?” she asks.
After that early morning accident, the speed limit was reduced from 55 to 45 mph along this stretch near the high school. But few vehicles slowed down at all on Thursday when I went to the accident site with the still-grieving grandmother.
Although the family has moved out of the area, they still visit the place where Destinee was hit, placing fresh flowers, stuffed animals and seasonal decorations around the white memorial cross that bears the young girl’s name.
Fowler and I sat in the grass next to the cross for almost an hour on Thursday, going through photo albums that showed her dark-haired granddaughter’s transformation from adorable baby to beautiful teen who was dancing at the threshold of womanhood when she was hit just two weeks after Homecoming.
In Plano’s most recent Yearbook, a page in her memory describes the tall, lanky freshman as a friend to all whose laugh could put a smile on anyone’s face.
Destinee was taken to Rush-Copley Medical Center in Aurora after the accident, where a “wonderful group of doctors saved her life,” says Fowler. Eventually, she was transferred to the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, but on Jan. 27, Destinee lost her three-month fight to survive.
Now her grieving family wants something — anything — at the Center Street intersection to make it safer for those who cross it.
While Kendall County is responsible for that stretch of road, Plano Mayor Bob Hausler has listened with special interest and compassion to the Fowlers’ concerns. He lost a 3-year-old child in a home fire in the early ‘90s; and his 19-year-old son died in an automobile accident in 2002. If anyone can understand what this family is going through, the mayor can.
“Sometimes there are just no answers,” he says, “to these unexplainable tragedies.”
Hausler is afraid putting a crosswalk at Center Street would only invite more people to try and navigate the busy road, and with no other traffic control in place, it would make the site even more dangerous.
“What would be best,” he says, “is a pedestrian overpass, but there’s just not the money in the budget this year.”
Fowler embraces the mayor’s compassion ... along with that suggestion, hoping that, in the end, officials don’t put a dollar amount on human life.
It’s too late for her granddaughter, she says, “but we don’t want someone else to go through our pain.”