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Remembering Hunter Cope, 2 years after tragic crash in Mayport

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Family and friends continue pushing for change two years after a 12-year-old boy was hit and killed while walking to school.

Hunter Cope’s family and loved ones came together to remember him Wednesday morning at the exact spot where the accident happened.

"It changed a lot of our lives because we lost a good friend," Luke Shepherd, a friend of Hunter's said. He along with another good friend got up early to set up the display in his memory- leaving behind balloons, flowers, a basketball and a sign that reads: "730 Days. Still No Justice."

Hunter was in the crosswalk, at A1A and Wonderwood Drive, walking to Mayport Middle School when he was hit on Mar. 6, 2017. Police said Kelly Permenter, 37, was behind the wheel and had alcohol and cocaine in her system at the time of the crash. 

Two years later, Permenter has still not gone to trial. She is facing a DUI manslaughter charge and is out on bond. Her lawyer argued for the charges to be dropped, but that was denied. Now, expert witnesses are being deposed. Permenter’s next court date is set for April 30th.

READ MORE: Judge won't toss DUI manslaughter charge in 12-year-old's death

"Every day is tough. It's hard," Matthew Valentine, Hunter's stepfather said. He adds the legal process is taking far longer than he expected with one court date after another and still no justice for Hunter.

"We will always miss him and to be hurt but right now, it Is as if there is no justice.  Every day that she is free, it’s like a slap in the face," Valentine said.

Since his death, Hunter’s family has pushed for safety improvements in the area.

His father wants to see rumble strips added in the area as well as a reduced speed limit and crossing guards for kids walking to school. His family has even started a petition to help make change a reality.

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

The Florida Department of Transportation has made improvements in the area. Early last year, enhanced crosswalks, countdown pedestrian signals, and handicap accessible ramps at several intersections were added along Wonderwood Drive.

The goal was to make the area safer for pedestrians.

About the Author:

Florida-born multi-media journalist pays special attention to issues in St. Johns County.