Victim's family speaks about dangerous intersection

Published On: Jan 15 2014 09:39:24 PM EST   Updated On: Jan 16 2014 06:42:45 AM EST

VIDEO: The uncle of a student that was struck and killed while crossing St. Augustine Road to go to school wants to see a crosswalk in place so no one else gets hit by a car.


A Jacksonville family told Channel 4 they wanted their story heard before another young life is lost on a busy street in their area.

Concerns about the dangerous intersection of St. Augustine Road at Alvarado were brought up Tuesday night after neighbors in the area complained about students crossing the busy intersection. 

Dennis Kotee talked to Channel 4 Wednesday about the nephew he lost last year crossing a street outside of a crosswalk.  Kotee’s nephew, 16-year-old Malk “Mike” Sunwabeh, was killed as he crossed Toledo Road on his way to class at Wolfson High School. 

“We want lives to be saved from this point on,” said Dennis Kotee. 

It’s been three months since Sunwabeh’s death and Kotee told Channel 4 he says a prayer every morning that his 14-year-old nephew, Abraham, Mike’s brother, is safe as he heads to Dupont Middle School.

“One of my friends, if they almost get hit, I’m like, ‘You know you better watch out. Don’t end up like my brother now,'” said Abraham Sunwabeh, who is in the seventh grade.

Abraham told Channel 4 that it’s been a difficult three months since his brother was killed. 

“If there was a crossing guard or a board that said go a certain speed limit or something like that, that would really help,” said Abraham.

Kotee told Channel 4 he plans to contact the city in hopes of having a light or a crosswalk installed in the area of St. Augustine and Alvarado Road.

“If we don’t take precautions now, it’s going to continue to happen and we don’t want that to continue,” said Kotee.

A city spokesperson told Channel 4 Wednesday night that a traffic study is planned for the area to determine what, if anything, is needed to change in that area.  While it could be months before it’s complete, Kotee said he’ll continue to remind students to be a defensive pedestrian.

“I don’t want any other family to have to go through this kind of situation that we are going through right now,” said Kotee.

Duval County Public Schools told Channel 4 that there have not been any complaints at Dupont Middle School or the district about safety in the St. Augustine, Alvarado Road area.

Channel 4’s Crime and Safety Expert, Ken Jefferson said he can't believe someone hasn't been hit at the intersection of St. Augustine and Alvarado Roads.

“The speed that the cars are going and the fact that there is 4 lanes that they have to cross with no assistance from a traffic signal or a crosswalk. So it’s a dare devil attempt to get to the other side,” said Jefferson.

Jefferson joined Channel 4 at the intersection Wednesday night to see the traffic situation, he was surprised that there haven’t been any injuries at the intersection.

“I’m very surprised that someone has not been hit in that, there are no devices to control traffic. There is no person to control the traffic,” said Jefferson. “A crosswalk in and of itself is not a solution because it’s just lines painted on the streets. It doesn’t slow the cars down. It doesn’t stop the cars. I don't know what more needs to be much more beyond that if your best interest is for the safety of the children as well as the drivers."

There are two other stop lights and crosswalks in the immediate area of the intersection. They're about a quarter mile from where the intersection is at St. Augustine and Alvarado. 

Channel 4 asked students why they didn't use those cross walks and they said they were too far out of their way.


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