Teen’s Tragedy Spotlights Traffic Violence Trend in St. Louis | St. Louis Metro News | St. Louis

click to enlarge Janae Edmondson was pinned between two cars and had both of her legs amputated after a crash Saturday night. - GoFundMe

Janae Edmondson was pinned between two cars and had both of her legs amputated after a crash Saturday night.

Just after midnight on April 13, 2016, the driver of a red Lexus struck and killed Jameca Stanfield as she tried to cross North Grand Boulevard. 

Notice of her death wouldn’t have extended beyond a few short news stories had it not been for her sister, Tiffanie Stanfield, who has fought for justice for her sister and so many other hit-and-run victims in the years after Jameca’s death.

Stanfield galvanized her grief to launch her organization, Fighting Against Hit and Run Driving, in hopes that the nonprofit would spur action against traffic violence by telling the stories of hit-and-run victims. 

“I fight for her because her death is in vain if I don’t,” Stanfield says.

Jameca’s death was part of a grim tally of pedestrians injured or killed by motor vehicles in 2016. That year, 294 were injured, 17 killed. 

Six years later, traffic violence in St. Louis is at a high. 

Data from Trailnet, a local nonprofit that tracks traffic violence, shows the total number of people killed on St. Louis city streets by vehicles hit a record high in 2022 compared to the last two decades (available records only go back to 2002).

Seventy-eight people, whether pedestrians or vehicle occupants, lost their lives to traffic violence last year. In 2021, 70 people died. The year before, 76.

“Traffic violence is a systemic issue in the public health crisis in our city,” Trailnet Community Planner Sam McCrory says.

Street safety in the city has garnered renewed attention after a speeding driver struck 17-year-old Janae Edmondson on Saturday. Edmondson lost both of her legs as a result of the crash.

Her case is undoubtedly tragic, street safety advocates say — especially considering that the incident could have been averted. The man who struck her, 21-year-old Daniel Riley, had violated his bond more than 50 times but remained out of jail. 

Still, the crash that resulted in Edmondson’s injuries is far from rare in St. Louis.

“This is not a new topic,” Stanfield says. “It’s not a new tragedy.”

This is especially true in pockets of north city, where seven of the 12 most dangerous city corridors identified by Trailnet exist. 

North city crashes involving innocent pedestrians or motorists are often thought of as “a shame,” but don’t receive much public outcry, Ward 21 Alderwoman Laura Keys tells the RFT.

“Unfortunately, the broken glass theory is still in play,” Keys says. “You see things, and you’re so socialized to them that you no longer see them. It’s like being nose blind constantly.” 

According to McCrory, who authors Trailnet’s annual crash reports, the part of the city where Edmondson was hit is a particularly dangerous one. 

Since 2021, 62 pedestrians have been involved in crashes in Downtown West. Two resulted in fatalities. Washington and Tucker stands out as a particularly fraught area, with 12 crashes on Washington and eight on Tucker in 2021, according to McCrory. 

“A lot of our great amenities are downtown,” McCrory says. “But, unfortunately, we don’t have the infrastructure to support a safe walking and biking environment.” 

During a phone interview Thursday, Stanfield lists numerous traffic tragedies that have contributed to St. Louis’ “epidemic” of traffic violence. In 2017, a hit-and-run driver killed Doletha Hudson as she tried to cross Natural Bridge Avenue. Stanfield also recalls a 2021 hit-and-run where a toddler died and his mother was paralyzed on one side of her body.

“There are many crash victims coming from all over the city of St. Louis might not get quite as much attention,” Trailnet Chief Executive Officer Cindy Mense says. “We really hope this conversation can be about how we can make it safer for everyone.”

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2023-02-24 01:28:00 ,

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