Mom Asks Village Board to Support 'Kaylah's Cause'
The mother of a Hometown eighth-grader who was killed crossing the intersection of Cicero Avenue and Southwest Highway asks for Oak Lawn Village Board's help to make corner safer for pedestrians.
In a room before sobbing parents and children, Krista Wilkinson spoke of the agony that her family has suffered in the six weeks since her daughter, Kaylah Lentine, 14, was struck by a pickup truck and killed crossing the intersection of Southwest Highway and Cicero Avenue.
Watch the video of Krista Wilkinson's statement.
Kaylah had missed the school bus the morning of May 24 and decided to walk the two miles from her family’s residence in Hometown to Oak Lawn-Hometown Middle School, where she was to have received a leadership award at the eighth-grade awards assembly.
She never made it to school that morning and died before she was able to graduate from grammar school with her classmates. The accident is still under police investigation and no charges have been brought against the driver.
“My daughter Kaylah was a great kid,” Wilkinson said, speaking before the Oak Lawn Village Board on Tuesday.
“She was a loving big sister, granddaughter, daughter, niece, cousin and friend," Wilkinson said of her daughter. "She was a member of SADD, Students Against Destructive Decisions, for four years beginning in grade school, and the leader for the last two years at the middle school.”
Wilkinson, her father, Don, and other family members are asking the village to lobby the Illinois Department of Transportation for modifications that will make the intersection safer and more accessible to pedestrians and bicyclists.
The family believes that had there been a pedestrian crossing light and ADA-compliant pedestrian access at the intersection, Kaylah might be alive today.
Supported by her fiancé, Bob Nelson, during public comments at Tuesday’s Oak Lawn Village Board meeting, Wilkinson told village board members The intersection of Southwest Highway and Cicero Avenue is the only intersection, traveling south along Cicero from 79th Street to 115th Street, that does NOT have a pedestrian Crossing Light with an activation button.
“Instead of taking her and her friends to laser tag, and planning her graduation party this summer, I had to plan her wake and funeral,” the Hometown mom said. “Why should the choice to walk to school be a deadly one?”
Active Transportation Alliance, a transportation advocacy group that has worked with such towns as Des Plaines to develop safer and more walkable communities, has compiled a list of recommendations to modify the intersection.
According to ActiveTrans, there were 21 pedestrian and bicycle accidents involving cars that occurred along Cicero Avenue between 91st and 95th Streets, and on 95th Street between Museum Drive and Kilbourn Avenue, based on IDOT statistics for 2006-2010.
Three pedestrian fatalities happened at 92nd and 95th Street at Cicero Avenue, and at 95th Street and Kenton Avenue.
Proposed modifications for the Cicero Avenue and Southwest Highway intersection include:
- 8 new zebra style crosswalks;
- 8 pedestrian signals with countdown timers;
- 2 new pedestrian islands;
- 12 truncated domes and
- 12 ADA-compliant curb ramps.
Trustee Alex Olejniczak (Dist. 2), in whose district where Kaylah Lentine was killed, said the had and State Rep. Kelly Burke (36th District) met with the girl’s family a few weeks ago to discuss their concerns.
“I would hope that we as a village board would support these modifications and do everything we can to bring this up in front of IDOT,” Olejniczak said. “I know that State. Rep. Kelly Burke said that she would also work on making this a safer intersection.”
Mayor Dave Heilmann said he’d like the see the process accelerated through IDOT before school starts up again next month.
"Do what Kaylah would have done for any of her friends or family members," Wilkinson said, " and make it safe for kids and adults in our community to walk, bike and drive."
Krista Wilkinson and family are asking residents in Oak Lawn and Hometown to support “Kaylah’s Cause,” by printing the pdf of the traffic request form, and circulating and signing the petitions. Only one person per household may sign the petition. Mail the petitions to Kaylah’s Cause. c/o 4570 W. 88th Street, Hometown, IL, 60456. The petitions need to be submitted to the village by July 25.
IF YOU CANNOT GET THE PDF TO PRINT, PLEASE EMAIL LORRAINE AT LORRAINE.SWANSON@PATCH.COM.