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GMS Students Bring Change And Safety To South Whittier Community

New safety features will be installed at a crosswalk in South Whittier thanks to Graves Middle School students.


After Graves student, Oliver Maldonado, was struck by a car at this crosswalk in April, friends and classmates wrote letters to L.A. County Supervisor, Janice Hahn, expressing concern and a call to action to make the cross walk safe for pedestrians.


At last week’s Board Supervisor’s meeting three students from Graves Middle School testified. 


“Children are our future and to protect them is our greatest responsibility,” Graves’ student, Andrea Prillwitz, said at the meeting. “So by fixing this, you will not only be doing good for the community but doing good for future generations to come.”


“I am so impressed by these young people. They saw what happened to their classmate, recognized the problem, and decided to do something about it,” Supervisor Hahn stated. “This crosswalk has been proven to be too dangerous, especially given how close it is to a County park and how many kids use it every day. I have instructed the Department of Public Works to install new lighting and safety features and to do so as quickly as possible.”


The Department of Public Works completed a traffic study at Hahn’s request on the crosswalk located at Meyer Road and Fidel Avenue, where Maldonado was hit. The department concluded that the crosswalk was in fact dangerous. In result, new flashing overhead LED lights will be installed to improve visibility and safety. Hahn has also requested to expedite this installment to begin construction in November and to be complete by January 2019. 


“This is a school-wide effort and as the principal, when I heard about the young man being hit in the crosswalk and being that I am a father of four, this became very personal for me,” said Graves Middle School principal, Dr. Matthew Frajio. “I just want to take the opportunity to thank Supervisor Janice Hahn…we are thrilled that this process is going to be expedited.”


The students who testified were also able to tour the Supervisor’s office and meet with the Department of Public Works who have invited the students to help design the crosswalk project as part of the Department’s “Junior Engineers” program. The program gives young people hands on experience in careers in STEM fields.


Department of Public Works’, Mark Pestrella, stated, “We are really proud of the citizens in this area who are speaking up and wanting to see something done about what has become a fairly dangerous intersection.”