ST. FRANCIS, Minn. (WCCO) — Two teenagers are in the hospital following an accident near their middle school in St. Francis.
Kaia Bollman and Annie Lamotte were in the crosswalk when a car struck them just before 6 p.m. Tuesday. The driver stopped at the scene. Bollman is in critical condition. Lamotte had surgery on Wednesday.
People have long been concerned about the intersection at St. Francis Boulevard, or Highway 47, and Pederson Drive NW. It stretches from St. Francis Middle School across the street to McDonald’s and other businesses, like Mansetti’s. Students are constantly crossing.
“It’s frequent, often, all day long, from morning to night they’re crossing,” Mansetti’s Manager Chris Williamson said.
“You run so you don’t get hit. You run definitely. You make sure you look both ways, even then stuff like that can happen,” sophomore Sophi Deroy said.
Decades before the 14-year-olds were struck by a car while in the crosswalk, the school district raised the issue of safety. The crosswalk was added. Flashing lights came a few years ago to let cars know to stop.
“To have a 50 mile per hour road here that’s, it just doesn’t make any sense to me that we don’t have anything better than the lights out there,” Williamson said.
Police say there appears to be a lighting and safety issue. There is a crosswalk, but it’s not a controlled stop. And when the light is low, it’s harder to see. People want more.
“I said well they ought to build a tunnel or something. I’m a professional driver and I know how people drive and this is like a straight shot,” driver Paul Jaszczk said.
The community says they begged for something to be done before anyone got hurt.
“I just think of those parents sitting up at the hospital over the holidays, not knowing what’s going to happen to their children. It just breaks anybody’s heart,” Williamson said.
After the accident, someone started an online petition to make the intersection safer. A CaringBridge has been set up for Bollmann.
Crisis response teams were at the school on Wednesday and will be available next week. Area churches are ready to help students who need support during the holiday weekend.
The St. Francis Area Schools Facebook page lists “other resources are available through Anoka County: call the Crisis Response line at 763-755-3801 if you or someone close to you, an adult or child, is having a mental health crisis. The line is open all day, every day, and the call is free. The Crisis Text Line is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Text MN to 741741 to be connected with a counselor who will help defuse the crisis and connect the texter to local resources.”