Hit-and-run death spotlights speeding problem in Mandarin neighborhood

Man, 24, found dead in apparent hit-and-run on Ricky Road

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The hit-and-run death of a 24-year-old man over the weekend has placed a spotlight on the problem of speeding in a residential area of Mandarin just blocks away from San Jose Boulevard.

Traffic homicide investigators believe Ryan McKeller was hit and killed by a car just before 4 a.m. Sunday on Ricky Drive. According to the police report, his body was found under his parked SUV.

People who live on Ricky Drive told News4Jax that they were not surprised by the deadly hit-and-run, saying too many drivers speed down the street. 

“There’s going to be another fatality. No doubt," said a neighbor, who wished to remain anonymous. "The speeding is terrible through here. They think it's the Daytona 500 up and down our street."

Neighbors said drivers need to slow down because McKeller was the second person who died in a hit-and-run on Ricky Drive. They said enough is enough when it comes to speeding.

"We've had two dogs run over and killed, four mailboxes (hit)," neighbor Kristopher Claudio said. "You always see tire marks in the streets. I'm not sure if people are racing or what they're doing."

A speed limit sign on Ricky Drive reads 30 mph, but people living on the street said some drivers completely ignore the posted limit.

"(There's) a lot of speeding through here," neighbor Robert Pierce said. "My mailbox has been knocked off the post four different times."

The unnamed neighbor said she has seen some drivers going more than 20 mph over the speed limit.

"Easily 55 or 60 (mph)," she said. "Some go faster than that. It's almost a blur."

On Tuesday, News4Jax used a radar gun to track speeds in both directions on Ricky Drive. Most drivers tracked were going anywhere from 10 to 15 miles over the posted speed limit. Some of them slowed down when they spotted the radar gun, but others ignored it and just kept flying by. One driver was tracked going 55 mph.

Drivers did slow down and stop when children got off a school bus.

According to News4Jax records, in 2016, 14 people were killed in 12 hit-and-run crashes in Duval County. Arrests were made in five cases. In 2017, 13 people were killed in hit-and-run crashes, and arrests were made in only two cases.

Need for speed bumps

In the wake of the deadly hit-and-run crash, people who live on Ricky Drive are questioning why they can't have speed bumps installed. 

"We've tried to get speed bumps out here for years now and (they're) just not being put out," Claudio said. "I don't know what the rules and regulations are, but something needs to be put out here."

News4Jax Crime and Safety Analyst Gil Smith said speed bumps can't be installed because there is a fire station at the corner of Ricky Drive and San Jose Boulevard. Ricky Drive is a direct route through various neighborhoods in case firetrucks from that station are dispatched to a nearby fire.

“They can’t have firetrucks slowing down, because they need to move quickly," Smith said.

According to Smith, speeding is a citywide problem, in which speed bumps and other forms of traffic control are not always available. 

“You can’t put speed bumps everywhere," he said. "You can’t have law enforcement on every street doing radar. The manpower is just not there.”

Smith said it’s up to drivers to slow down in residential areas, but it’s also up to pedestrians to avoid putting themselves in harm’s way.

“I see that so often in residential areas. There may be sidewalks available, but people just decide to walk in the streets," he said. "Quite often, I see this with parents who are pushing baby strollers with innocent kids in their strollers and still, sometimes, refuse to walk on the sidewalk.”

Smith said walking on a sidewalk gives pedestrians a better chance of not being hit by a speeding car. 

He added that putting up more speed limit signs will not solve the problem because most people know the speed limit in residential areas is 30 mph.

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