Stop killing our children

For all of the attention we’ve given to University Avenue since several UF students were killed or injured there, the silence over the death of 4-year old Dylan Roberts last week almost passed without notice.

Indeed, so far as I have been able to tell, WCBJ, TV 20, is the only media outlet to report on the child’s death. And that a week after the fact.

“4-year old Dylan Roberts died after being hit while crossing East University Avenue with his siblings on Oct. 27. He and his siblings were crossing the road illegally, a point made by his mother Megan Durant who feels there should be a crosswalk or other traffic signs in front of her neighborhood of Pine Meadows. Fred Cone Park is about a five minute walk from Durant’s apartment, but one that has to be made across a road where the speed limit is 45 mph.”

One would hate to think that his death went unnoticed because it occurred on East University Avenue, far from the university and well into the “poor” side of town.

Dylan’s mother told TV 20: “Durant said, “I’ve always felt we’ve been neglected on this side (Eastside.) I feel when they built a park and a library across the street from a community they should have already implemented a sign, a pedestrian walk, some kind of crosswalk for the safety for our kids. If they don’t owe us anything else, it’s the safety of our children because our children are our future and if we don’t protect them, who will?”

It’s an excellent question. Since the rash of UF student deaths and injuries they’ve installed speed bumps on West University, lowered the speed limit, added additional police enforcement and hired a consultant to recommend major alterations of Gainesville’s “signature street.”

But East University Avenue: Not so much.

Kudos to TV 20 for not allowing Dylan’s death to go unnoticed

In a follow up story on Tuesday, TV 20 reports: “Dylan lived with his mother, Megan Durant, in the Pine Meadows neighborhood across the street from Fred Cone Park. Several groups of children were seen doing exactly what Dylan and his siblings did, crossing the street illegally. Children are expected to walk three to five minutes up the road to cross the street.”

“On every side of town they have those crosswalks but they don’t have that over here on the Black side of town,” Nakeisha Sullivan told the station.

“They are posing a very legitimate question that, trust me, I am posing as well,” Commissioner for the district Desmon Duncan-Walker added. “We know that East University has seen a number of tragedies within the past year.”

“I’ve asked for our staff to come out immediately so that any modifications that we can make right now, we can begin to implement,” Duncan-Walker said.

That a child could be killed on any part of University Avenue and almost escape the community’s attention is a Gainesville disgrace.

All of University Avenue needs to be a “complete street,” and not just the segment that runs past the University Of Florida. Wake up, We have to stop killing our children on University Avenue.

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