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Traffic changes coming where two girls were killed in Mishawaka

April 07, 2010|By SUE LOWE, Tribune Staff Writer
  • Shianna and Shayla Aston (Photo provided)
Shianna and Shayla Aston (Photo provided)

MISHAWAKA — The city will make traffic changes in the area where two small girls were hit by a car last May. The girls later died. Mishawaka Common Council voted Tuesday night to lower the speed limit on 11th Street between Laurel and Union streets from 30 miles an hour to 20 miles an hour. All-way stop signs also will be installed at the intersections of 11th Street and Iowa Street and 11th Street and Michigan Avenue. Shianna Aston, 6, and Shayla Aston, 4, were hit by a car while crossing 11th Street at Dodge Avenue on May 7. Shayla died the next day and Shianna died July 8. Linda Peffley, the girls’ aunt, said the traffic changes "would help a lot." "There are a lot of kids who live there," she said. The girls’ mother, Shelly Aston, who has moved to Elkhart, had not returned a telephone call from the Tribune by this afternoon. "It’s a good idea. It’s long overdue," Louis Crist, who lives near the corner of 11th and Iowa streets, said of the proposed changes. "I though 30 (miles an hour) was high here anyway," said neighbor David Battle. "That’s (20 mph) about right." Jennifer Sopczynski said people "just fly" on 11th Street. "There’s a lot of little kids around here and they need to be safe," she said. Brittney Baldwin, who has two young children, said she has wanted the city do to something to control traffic for a long time. All of the neighbors mentioned the accident that killed the Aston girls. St. Joseph County Magistrate Richard McCormick sentenced Leroy Hoover to 60 days in jail on a misdemeanor charge, with 50 days of the sentence suspended. Gary West, director of engineering for the city of Mishawaka, said investigators estimated Hoover was going between 27 and 32 miles an hour when he hit the girls. That would be faster than the new speed limit. West and police Chief Ken Witkowski told council members they would like to force through traffic onto 12th Street. The speed limit was dropped to 20 miles an hour and two all-way stops were put on 10th Street in 1993 at the request of Barbee Creek Village residents. Witkowski said the changes on 11th Street "pretty much mirror 10th Street" where the traffic control "has proved effective." Mishawaka Traffic Commission members recommended the changes. West wrote in a letter to council members that Traffic Commission members were concerned because 11th Street runs through Barbee Creek. He wrote that the village includes 148 apartments with 375 residents. The ordinance with the changes must be advertised next week before it is effective. Witkowski told council members his department will start enforcing the changes as soon as signs are up. In 1996, residents of the area asked the Indiana Department of Transportation to put a traffic light at Union and 10th streets. But InDOT said there wasn’t enough traffic on 10th Street to merit a light. Staff writer Sue Lowe: slowe@sbtinfo.com (574) 247-7758

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