Peoria to improve traffic safety around school after student hit, killed in crosswalk

Students at Sunset Heights Elementary started a petition to improve safety after a classmate was hit and killed while walking to class.
Published: May. 4, 2023 at 6:01 PM MST
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PEORIA, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -- The stretch of Deer Valley Road between 95th and 98th avenues in Peoria can be downright dangerous. “They drive too fast and don’t pay attention,” said one motorist passing by.

Two months ago, an 8th grader was run over and killed in the crosswalk while walking to class. The tragedy devastated classmates at Sunset Heights Elementary School, but their grief quickly turned to action when several students started a petition to improve safety around campus.

The students brought their concerns to the Peoria Unified School Board. “We have gotten signatures from everyone in 8th grade, and a majority of 7th graders at our school,” said student Isabella Mahl. “We believe that with Deer Valley Road in between two schools, some safety precautions need to be taken.”

Neva Severn is one of many parents thrilled to see teenagers trying to make a difference. “I’m very impressed with their compassion and their caring and support,” said Severn. “Something has needed to be done for a while.” “It’s very important that students are involved,” said parent Mathew Blume. “I think it’s good we are coming together as a community to make this a safe place for everybody.”

Just weeks after students started the petition drive, the City of Peoria announced that changes would be made along Deer Valley Road. The city will add reflective white paint and ladder-style stripping to several crosswalks, along with yellow reflective tape to the signals at 95th Avenue and Deer Valley Road. There are also plans for a pilot speed reduction zone to temporarily reduce the speed limit from 40 mph to 30.

Parent Marlene Young likes the changes but doesn’t think it’s enough. “I would love to see a crossing guard there as one of changes,” said Young. “But anything is better than nothing to keep kids safe.”

A spokesperson for the Peoria Unified School District said they evaluate where crossing guards should go before the start of each school year.