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Council Session on Traffic Light Set : Safety: Residents demand signal at site where 14-year-old boy was critically injured. Accident was third this year at intersection.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

The City Council will have a special meeting Tuesday to consider the demands of more than 150 residents for a traffic signal at an intersection where a 14-year-old boy was critically injured by a car earlier month.

At a standing-room-only council meeting Tuesday night, neighbors and friends of the boy demanded that a signal be installed at the intersection of Wells Street and Walnut Grove Avenue.

Though some council members expressed support for the request, no vote could be taken because the issue had not been placed on the agenda in advance.

On Dec. 5, Rosemead High School freshman Gustavo Palacios was struck by a car and thrown 70 feet while crossing the intersection on his way home from wrestling practice. Sheriff’s deputies are investigating the accident but have not decided whether to seek charges against the driver.

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“It’s sad that something like this has to happen to bring (the danger) to our attention,” said Connie Regalado, 15, a friend of the youth’s, who addressed the council with tears streaming from her eyes.

“How many persons have to be maimed or killed at this intersection before the city realizes that a traffic signal is a necessity, and not a luxury?” wrote neighbor James Moran in a statement to the council that recommended not only a light but a reduced speed limit, tougher speed-limit enforcement, better street lighting and left-hand-turn lanes at the intersection.

The victim’s brother, Vidal Palacios, said at the meeting that Gustavo suffered a broken pelvis, a ruptured spleen and numerous cuts and bruises. The boy had undergone brain surgery and was still in a coma late last week at County-USC Medical Center. Doctors were not sure if he would live.

The city’s traffic commission several years ago decided not to put a four-way stop sign at the intersection after finding that the level of traffic and the number of accidents there did not justify the expense.

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The accident involving Palacios, however, was the third this year at the intersection. Last month, while using the crosswalk, an elderly man was killed by a hit-and-run driver who still has not been apprehended. And in January, there was an automobile collision, but no serious injuries were reported.

Residents also argue that the intersection is heavily used by students. It is around the corner from an elementary school, one block from a junior high school and within walking distance of Rosemead High.

Although a crossing guard is stationed at the intersection during school hours, residents say it is still dangerous, and they add that many students stay after school to participate in extracurricular activities, as Palacios did. There was no crossing guard on duty at about 6 p.m. when Palacios was hit.

City officials said it would cost about $90,000 to install a four-way traffic light at the intersection. Included in the estimate are provisions for street re-striping, left-hand-turn lanes and handicap-access curbs.

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Mayor Jay T. Imperial promised to see that the light is installed, “even if I have to pay for it myself,” he said.


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