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Thursday, May 5, 2016

Neighbors hoping for change at one intersection

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Living near a dangerous intersection, two local residents want to bring public awareness to the problem in hopes one day they can put away their emergency kits.

Neighbors Sonny Silaski and Kimberly Wetnight each keep a ready-to-use flashlight, a cordless phone and shoes sitting next to their front doors in case there is an accident in the valley between two hills on State Road 59 near the intersection of County Road 700 North.

According to the two neighbors, many of the minor accidents are not reported to authorities.

"It happens all the time," Wetnight said. "The sound of screeching brakes interrupts the silence and then you just wait for either more silence or the thud of cars hitting each other. It's devastating to wake up and hear someone screaming for help."

Silaski said he's also run down the hill many times to see what he could do to help.

"Although I haven't seen anything real bad yet, you have to be prepared for whatever you might see. I always check the vehicles first to make sure no one is inside," Silaski said. "It's really a ridiculous situation. It's nothing to wake up and find car parts in my yard from a small accident that happened over night. I've only lived here for five years and I've seen more serious accidents that required medical attention occur here than I've seen in my entire life anywhere else."

According to Wetnight, most of the accidents take place when northbound motorists are stopped half-way down the south hill while attempting to turn west from SR 59 onto CR 700 N.

This was the case in a recent three-vehicle accident that sent an adult and two juveniles to the hospital.

"People trying to turn there get rear-ended all the time," She said.

Silaski believes it is the valley in the road causing the problems.

"People just aren't prepared for it," he said. "They're driving along, usually faster than they should be, and all of a sudden someone is in front of them and there's no time to stop."

CR 700 N isn't much better, according to Wetnight, who said the steep incline creates problems year round.

"Vehicles slide out into the highway in the winter because of the snow and ice. And although the highway does a great job of sanding it, when spring comes the road is still slippery because of the build up from the sand," she said. "I don't know how many times I've had to replace my mail box after being hit by someone speeding and not being able to slow down or stop in time. It would be nice if they put a speed bump on this part of the road to slow down the speeders on this road."

The two have also thought of several options to make traveling on the highway safer, from installing a red or yellow flashing caution light, to adding more caution signs or lowering the speed limit along the highway.

"Although flashers would be best because drivers would see them and slow down," Silaski said, "If they would just move the signs that are already in place a little further back might give drivers more time to respond and slow down."

"Changing (current hazard signs) to those that have flashers on them would help and probably not cost as much as installing a light," Wetnight said. "We need something done here because it is so dangerous."

Wetnight and Silaski have talked separately with several different officials about their concerns at various times over the years, but haven't made a joint effort to try and make changes until now.

While Silaski said he is ready to attend a Clay County Commissioners meeting to talk about the problem, Wetnight said she's "willing to talk to anyone if it means we can get some help here"

Wetnight pointed out that there is a small wooden cross with red reflectors on the east side of SR 59, a memorial to a family friend, Kellyn Andrews, who died in 2003.

"Kellyn was a shinning star," Wetnight said. "A Northview High School senior who was preparing to go out into the world and make something of herself. I'd hate for someone else to die."

"I'm really amazed at how many people have been affected by this stretch of road and the accidents that happen on it," Silaski said. "How many more lives have to be affected before something is done about it?"

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That really is a bad place. I was rear ended there turning east on 700 myself. I have learned to signal very early at the top of the hill and start slowing down traffic before I stop. One of the problems is that you are allowed to pass in that valley. If someone pulls out from a side road they can be in a head on crash.

Speed is a big problem,when you are trying to turn east on 700 people use the berm to go around you.

The hill turning west is a worse problem. I always fear someone sliding out onto 59. It would be nice if the hill could be graded so it isn't so steep. I'm sure that would be very costly.

-- Posted by localgal on Wed, Feb 18, 2009, at 10:02 AM

When I was a teen, I was with a friend who was going to fast and didn't know the road. We were going east from Staunton and came to that stop sign at 59. We slid down that hill straight across 59 into that embankment. Lucky for us, no cars were coming either direction. It is good that Kim and Sonny are there to help, because a lot of people these days wouldn't. They should be given some kind of recognition for their efforts to help others. I personally know Kim and her husband Paul, and they are real good people. Hats off to all those involved in getting this matter the attention it deserves.

-- Posted by rooster1 on Wed, Feb 18, 2009, at 11:39 AM

That is the same spot that on Christmas Eve 1956

my mother, father and I were headed south on 59 when a car coming from the west, failed to stop at 59. It spun us around, sending my mother out of the car and over the embankment on the east side of 59. It was a horrible snowy, icy evening, and my mother received very very critical injuries, which sent her to the hospital for over 4 months. We were living at Cartersburg, Indiana at the time, and I ended up staying with friends there while she was in Clay County Hospital. I will never ever forget that

horrible night........and still to this day fear

traveling that section of highway. I wish there could be something done to improve that horrible area.

-- Posted by JaniLou on Wed, Feb 18, 2009, at 12:17 PM

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