Residents call for crossing signal

A Huntington Beach woman who spoke to the City Council 25 years ago after nearly being killed while crossing an intersection, returned Monday to plead again for the council to make it safe to cross after a baby was hit at the same location earlier in the month.

Resident Kathleen Stahl went flying 100 feet after she was hit by a car. She broke her arm and pelvis, and cracked her skull. The accident landed her in the hospital for two weeks and at home for six months to recover. She needed two surgeries to fix her arm and plastic surgery on her face.

Stahl had been trying to cross the street at Springdale Street and Croupier Drive when she was hit by a car. She survived, but not without scars, she told the council Monday night.

"This was one of the toughest battles I've ever faced and I overcame my physical injuries, but, as you can all imagine, the emotional scars this accident left with me," she said.

It was after this incident that Stahl, 14 at the time, went to the council to speak on how dangerous the intersection was, not only for herself, but for four others who had been hit in the same location, she said. Now, a Sept. 7 accident at the same location that injured four, leaving a 3-month-old girl dead, has brought her back to the council.

"There are no words to express the sadness I have in my heart," she said.

The baby was being pushed in her stroller across the intersection by her mother and an 11-year-old girl and 7-year-old boy. A Toyota Tacoma stopped to let them cross, but was rear-ended by a Chevrolet Tahoe that pushed the car into the pedestrians.

The baby died and the mother and 11-year-old girl were left in critical condition. The accident is still under investigation, police Lt. Russell Reinhart said.

Stahl's father, Robert Stahl, said he has seen numerous accidents at the intersection and questioned whether the 3-month-old could still be alive now if something had been done when his daughter spoke out 25 years ago.

"Could we have saved a child's life with a traffic signal 25 years ago?" he asked.

The intersection has seen numerous accidents and is a dangerous place to cross, about a dozen residents attested to at the meeting. The intersection was also one of seven locations cut from the list of city-funded crossing guards this year.

Police records for the intersection over the last four years show there have been no accidents recorded from 2007 to 2009 and three accidents so far this year. One in February that resulted in only minor injuries after a driver pulled out from a curb in front of an oncoming vehicle, Reinhart said.

A second accident occurred in May when a driver stopped at the crosswalk to let children walk. Another driver stopped behind them, but a third driver failed to stop, crashing into both. No children were injured but the drivers sustained minor injuries, Reinhart said. The third was the Sept. 7 fatality.

Springdale and Croupier needs a crosswalk, said Debbie Lerma, a 45-year resident.

"It's not if it happens again, it's when, because it will happen again," she said.

It would cost the city about $250,000 to put in a traffic signal and $125,000 for a flashing light crosswalk.

Councilman Joe Carchio said he wants to move forward with the issue and see if the council can get it taken care of.

"I know this is a real serious situation and we want to resolve it as quickly as we can because we don't want to see another children injured or another accident there," he said.

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