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Officials send strong message to drivers, pedestrians

By Ryan Hughes, Reporter, RHughes@wfmz.com
Published On: Jun 18 2012 04:28:50 PM CDT
Updated On: Jun 18 2012 04:58:33 PM CDT

The tragic death of a three-year-old girl has local officials sending a strong message to drivers and pedestrians.

READING, Pa. -

The tragic death of a three-year-old girl has local officials sending a strong message to drivers and pedestrians in the city of Reading.

Ja-Lexy Bobet was killed Thursday night by a hit-and-run driver, said police. With so many people walking the streets, drivers are being asked to slow down and pay more attention.

"People are crazy, they're crazy drivers, they don't care. I know that they'll hit you," said Bridget Hartz, an avid walker.

"When they get to a stop sign it seems like they stop at the last second," said Sarah Walfish, whose sister had a close call while walking.

The signs are posted everywhere, "Stop," "Don't walk," even "Yield," but the city's dense population can be a recipe for disaster.

"It's like a minefield trying to get from corner to corner without running into anybody, or no one getting in your way," said Percy Price, who drives through the city.

Last Thursday, tragedy struck at South 10th and Cotton streets. Police said Bobet was run over and killed after Justin Taylor, 18, ran a stop sign and fled the scene.

A week before that, a car slammed into Jacob Ortiz, 4, in the 700 block of Gordon Street. Officials said his condition is improving.

"We have narrow streets, we have cars sometimes on both sides and we have a tremendous number of small children," said Bob Hospidor, who is part of the board of directors for WalkBikeBerks, a group designed to make walking and biking safe in Berks County.

City officials said Reading is pedestrian friendly, but only if everyone follows the law.

"Everyone is in a hurry, everybody runs late," said city council president Francis Acosta. "Citizens have to be careful as they cross the street, but all drivers need to be careful as we go through an intersection."

The maximum speed in neighborhoods is 25 mph, but with narrow streets and children present, police want drivers to go even slower.

Taylor turned himself into police Friday night. He was charged with homicide by vehicle. Police said he may face additional charges.