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IRVINE : City Agrees to Parents’ Crossing Guard Plea

Seven years after the death of a high school student near a busy intersection, city officials have agreed to post a crossing guard for youngsters who attend two nearby schools.

Parents have long complained about the hazards at Michelson Drive and Yale Avenue, where 14-year-old David Leidal was struck and killed in 1988 while riding his bicycle in a crosswalk. Police say there have been five accidents at the intersection in the past five years.

When Rancho San Joaquin Middle School student Melissa Horn was struck by a van at the same spot on Oct. 23, parents renewed the call for a crossing guard and other safety improvements. Melissa suffered a concussion and bruises.

Council members agreed Tuesday night to spend $8,000 a year for a crossing guard, who will be posted at the intersection beginning Monday. But some nearby residents say that won’t solve the problem.

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The narrowing of Michelson Drive to a single lane on each side, which occurred before the 1988 accident, has contributed to the dangers of the busy intersection, they say.

“There was a lot of animosity in the community over the re-striping of Michelson,” said 20-year resident Richard Bauer, whose wife teaches at a school near the intersection. Bauer said the narrowed street design was a “contributing factor” to the 1988 accident.

Some parents say traffic signals should replace stop signs at the intersection, but Councilwoman Paula Werner questioned whether signals would create a false sense of security for parents.

“I have a feeling, when you’ve got 5-, 6-, 7-year-olds, a signal is not enough security for a parent,” Werner said, suggesting that parents of nearby Rancho San Joaquin and Vista Verde schools be surveyed on potential traffic improvements.

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“A live human being” such as a crossing guard, she said, provides “a little bit more security for the parent.”


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