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Fatal crash prompts call for change
KOUNTZE- by Haley Bull
A crash that killed two Kountze High School students is prompting community members to speak out about what some call a bad stretch of highway.
DPS troopers said Keiron Edwards, 18, and Savion Smith, 16, were riding in the backseat of a Kia. The driver of the Kia was driving south on U.S. 69 and slowed to make a left turn onto Hooks Cemetery Rd. As the Kia began to turn, an SUV traveling northbound was passing another car, stopped to make a left turn onto Colonial Rd., on the shoulder. The Kia sped up to avoid the collision but the SUV hit it in the rear passenger door. The crash killed both Smith and Edwards and left a community grieving.
"Something like this really, really tears a community up," Carol McDonald, a Kountze resident, said.
"There's crosses up and down the road from losing people right there," another community member, Tommy Williams, said.
Some people called it a bad stretch of highway.
"In that particular one, it's happened several times," Hoy Kelley said about the cross roads of U.S. 69 at Hooks Cemetery Rd. and Colonial Rd.
"I expect everybody in Kountze has almost had a close call at that same intersection," McDonald said.
The close calls prompted some people to call for change.
"It didn't surprise me, and that's so sad, because it didn't have to happen," Rebecca Keith said.
Keith lives on Colonial Rd., near the site of the accident.
"Coming home everyday, you know, I see a lot of people that pass on that shoulder and they don't generally slow down," Keith said. "No one gives it a second thought and it's so dangerous."
A spokesperson for the Department of Public Safety said it's legal to pass on the shoulder if a vehicle is stopped making a left turn.
"If people would start paying closer attention to what's going on further down the road and whether or not someone's turning, I think it can definitely be avoided," Keith said.
Legal or not, Keith said something needs to be done.
"How many people do we have to lose and how many people have to be injured before something gets done," she said.
A two-lane stretch of highway, two lives taken far too soon.
"No mother, no father, should have to get that call that says that their child's been injured or isn't coming home tonight," Keith said.
The community will hold a candlelight vigil for the students killed beginning at 6 p.m. at the Lion's Den.