Residents want safer road where woman died

67-year-old was crossing street when she was hit by car, killed

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Two days after a 67-year-old woman was hit and killed while crossing a busy road, her friends and neighbors are calling for more safety measures.

Jacksonville police said Hanifa Mesic died after getting off a city bus and crossing St. Augustine Road, just south of Old Kings Road.

Investigators said the 71-year-old driver was not speeding and will not be cited for the crash.

Residents in the area said the problem is they have to get across the street, and the crosswalks are just too far away.

"It is very dangerous," said resident Sonia Alvarez. "It's not the first time a person has gotten hit here. It is the second time."

The crash has those who lived in the adjacent retirement community with Mesic devastated and asking for change. They said the buses drop them off across the street, and they're left to fend for themselves to get across.

"Please, we need a traffic light in this corner," Alvarez said.

Crosswalks are in the area, but they're not close, especially for the elderly. There's one about a quarter-mile north, and another far to the south.

People at nearby businesses also want change.

"I think something good should come out of this one," said Dr. Raghavendra Vhatnager, who works nearby. "The city should take care of the area, because it is not the area that it used to be. It has grown quite a bit."

The road is busy, a route for about 15,000 cars a day. News4Jax news partner Metro Jacksonville called for improved safety measures in a 2011 article, when it was worried someone would get hit. The Jacksonville Transportation Authority did improve the bus stops, but no one ever put in a crosswalk or a red light.

The responsibility seems to lie with the city.

"But I hope that we have crosswalks there pretty quickly," said Councilwoman Lori Boyer.

It's in her district, one of many spots where she's asking for help from the city's Public Works Department. She said concerned neighbors need to let her and city leaders know that they want a safer way before another person is hurt or killed.

"If somebody is being vocal about the need for something, it is much more likely to get taken care of," Boyer said. "So I think that it is a great idea if they do that. I will certainly be writing again about it. And I do think that we need both JTA and Public Works to sit down and work together on it."

Boyer said she is also concerned about several other spots nearby, one where a lot of children cross. She said adding the crosswalks should not be an incredibly expensive thing to do.

The managers of San Jose Apartments, where Mesic lived, said this is very concerning, and they will be going to the city and requesting a crosswalk or some other safety measures to protect their residents.

"We, residents and management, feel the loss of our friend and neighbor due to the recent traffic accident," the complex said in a statement. "San Jose Apartments is home to active folks whose primary transportation is the bus. We continue to concentrate on safety measures and intend to approach the city for relief which might include a crosswalk or a traffic light. The residents catch the bus on the side nearer their apartments but on the return trip, the bus is on the opposite side thus causing them to cross in traffic which may present a danger.

"The mission of San Jose Apartments is to provide a safe and caring environment for the residents."