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After 2nd traffic death on A1A, Hunter Cope's dad continues fight

850 sign petition for lower speed limit, school zone, crossing guard

Two days after a hit-and-run crash along State Road A1A that took the life of a 55-year-old man, the father of a child killed just down the street earlier this year continues fighting for lower speed limits in the area.

Hunter Cope, 12, was hit and killed in a crosswalk on A1A while heading to Mayport Middle School in March. Traffic homicide investigators said the driver had alcohol and cocaine in her system.

"It's been real tough; stressful," said Matthew Valentine, Hunter's father. "Sometimes just sad and depressing day, trying to find yourself and just trying to live on but it's tough to live on because you miss  a part of your life."

Valentine said drivers are not paying attention to people walking.

"First of all I think the speed limit should be drastically reduced. And second of all, I've been talking to my wife about it, I really think that they need to put rumble strips at the end of Wonderwood and A1A so people, they hit a rumble strip, you're going to slow down."

City officials said the Department of Transportation determines speed limits, and it determined that 45 mph is an appropriate speed limit for the area that caters to a a lot of military traffic.

With the start of school just two weeks away, Valentine questions why no safety precautions have been taken at the intersection of A1A and Wonderwood Drive. 

Valentine would also like for there to be crossing guards at the intersection where his son died.

"Why wouldn't you (take) a little bit of money to hire one crossing guard at one intersection that has already taken a life?" Valentine said.

While the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office said it decides on the need for crossing guards for elementary schools, the Duval County School District or City Council must request crossing guards near middle or high schools.

The phone number for Duval schools transportation office was busy all day Tuesday, so News4Jax wasn't able to ask the status of adding a guard or speed zone in the area.

Hunter's family has put up a Change.org petition to encourage changes to be made to make the area safer. As of Tuesday afternoon, 850 people had signed the petition calling for speed bumps, a crossing guard or flashing lights near the school.

Kelley Permenter, 37, is charged with DUI manslaughter, DUI property damage and leaving the scene of the accident that killed Hunter Cope. She is out on bond awaiting trial.