JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Firefighters and JEA employees are stepping in help protect a home at a busy Southside intersection where a tragic accident claimed the life of a teen.
The intersection of Barnes at Kennerly roads is right in front of the home where 17-year-old JaNay Jackson was killed last year when a van smashed into her bedroom while she was asleep.
The city increased the size of the stop sign at the intersection, added a flashing sign to let drivers know a stop sign is ahead, and added some rumble strips ahead of the sign.
But the Jacksonville Association of Fire Fighters, with support from some JEA workers, were taking it upon themselves to help guard the Jacksons' home. In all, 18 firefighters, six JEA linemen installed 10 utility poles Tuesday morning and ran a cable between them to create something that looks like a fence in front of the home.
The firefighters say they will return in about a month to do some landscaping to make the barrier more attractive.
JaNay's mother, Felicia Jackson, issued a statement, saying she "would like to thank the fire union for their loving concern about our safety. With so much badness and sadness in this world, it really warms my heart that people in our community who didn't even know JaNay would do something in our behalf. Hopefully this act of having natural affection for others will permeate throughout the community. I appreciate very much this act of kindness, for it will go a long way in helping our family to heal from this terrible tragedy."
Ismet Sijamhodzic, the man investigators say crashed into the Jacksons' home and killed the teen, was later charged with vehicular homicide. He's scheduled to be back in court next week.
"A lot of people didn't know JaNay, you know? But the fact that they could see one family's pain and want to do something about it shows that there's a lot of caring people in the world," Jackson said in a phone interview.
Being able to help is especially important to firefighter Dallas Cooke, who was one of the first responders the night JaNay Jackson died.
"It's a blessing for me to be apart of something like this," he said. "Just a small token to give back to this family after all the tragedy that they've been through."
In about a week, the volunteers will be back to put in some landscaping. For Jackson's family, the only thing that matters is feeling safe again in their home.
"They're keeping us safe," Felicia Jackson said. "To me, that's going to be a place where we can stay because of what they're doing for us."
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