89ºF

Community calls for crosswalk after boy's death

12-year-old hit crossing County Road 218 in Middleburg near Omega Park

Locke Gaddis, 12, was hit crossing County Road 218 in Middleburg
Locke Gaddis, 12, was hit crossing County Road 218 in Middleburg (Family photo)

MIDDLEBURG, Fla. – A community in Middleburg is fighting for a crosswalk after a 12-year-old boy was hit and killed trying to cross the street to get to a friend’s house.

Locke Gaddis was crossing County Road 218 from Omega Park on Nov. 12 when he was hit by a red Ford Mustang driven by a 55-year-old woman. Locke was airlifted to UF Health Jacksonville in critical condition.

He died Saturday from his injuries.

Locke's family has started a petition, calling for a crosswalk and flashing light to be installed at CR 218 and Iris Street in hopes of preventing tragedies like this from happening again.

ONLINE: Sign the petition | Donate to Locke's family 

Locke's mother, Donna Gaddis, said she never wants any family to suffer the loss of a loved one on that road.

“They are building this bike path, but how are the children supposed to get across the street to ride on this bike path?” Donna Gaddis said. “The houses are mainly on that side of the street all the way down.”

The Florida Department of Transportation is currently building a 10-foot paved bike lane along the road from Mimosa Avenue to the west of Blanding Boulevard, an almost 2-mile stretch that includes the Omega Park area where Locke was struck.

FDOT expects the almost $800,000 bike lane project to be completed by the end of the year.

But many in the community have argued that the stretch of road is busy and dangerous and something needs to change to protect citizens.

With the petition, Donna Gaddis is hoping that she can convince county leaders to install lights and a crosswalk to help others stay safe, something she believes could have saved her son.

“He’s just sweet and compassionate. he never had a mean moment in his life, I swear, and just an overall good kid, just starting to become himself,” Donna Gaddis said.

Family and friends planted a cross near the park where he was hit by car, while just being a kid.

“I was at work, and I got a phone call that a child had been hit in front of the apartments, and come to find out it was my son’s best friend, Locke,” Melanie May said.

May said Locke would come over from the park often to play with her son, but on Nov. 12, he didn’t make it.

“I was in shock,” May said. “I was hurt for Locke and his family. We just need something done out here.”

Donna Gaddis said she usually sat at the park to watch Locke, but recently she’s been letting him go alone.

“I did trust him to cross the road. I still don’t think he stepped out in front of anybody,” Donna Gaddis said. “I do think it was an accident, but he was just super cautious about everything.”

The driver of the car stopped to call for help and cooperated with Florida Highway Patrol investigators. She was not charged in the crash.

A celebration of Locke's life is planned for Dec. 5.