Fatal crash prompts calls for change at busy intersection

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By Zach Myers

CRAWFORDSVILLE, Ind. (Oct. 22, 2014) - The recent death of an 18-year-old Crawfordsville High School graduate is prompting some to call for change at a busy intersection just south of the high school.

Zachary Coffman died just before 8 p.m. October 10, the day before his 19th birthday, when the pickup truck he was riding in was struck by a semi truck at the intersection of State Road 47 and Montgomery County Road 150 South. Witnesses told police the 17-year-old driver of the pickup, who was seriously injured in the crash, appeared to be speeding before running the stop sign at the intersection. The southbound semi struck the eastbound pickup, propelling it into the front yard of Rockpoint church.

While he can never know for sure, volunteer firefighter Jim Hayes wonders if the placement of the stop sign at the intersection may have contributed to the accident.

"If you're traveling a 50 mile an hour speed limit through here, it happens so quick that you're ready to cross the highway there before the stop sign is even visible," Hayes told FOX59.

The Ripley Township Volunteer Firefighter says the stop sign on the southwest corner of the intersection, which the teen driver would have run, is placed so far out from the center line that a driver looking straight ahead could easily miss it. He's calling for the sign to be moved further away from the intersection, so it will be closer to the center line and easier to see.

Hayes also thinks a second stop sign on the left side of CR 150 South would make the intersection even safer. He also would like to see a "Stop Ahead" sign installed further to the west as drivers approach the intersection. And, he believes the nearby intersection of SR 231 and CR 300 South needs the same treatment.

Would different sign placement have saved Coffman's life October 10th? Hayes doesn't know for sure. But he has reason to press the issue.

Hayes lost his own son, 22-year-old Willie, in a crash five years ago. That accident occured on a narrow stretch of Dam Road, near Lake Holiday. This past summer, his efforts to get the roadway widened to two lanes finally become reality. A memorial cross for his son still stands near the accident site.

Now he's directing his efforts to the most recent crash site.

"Someone's got to make a difference in the world, you know," Hayes said. "If they just leave this like it is, there's liable to be more lost lives here. No family should have to go through this."

And his efforts may prompt change.

Since CR 150 South intersects with a state highway, the intersection is maintained by the Indiana Department of Transportation. INDOT tells FOX59 they already have plans to install a "Stop Ahead" sign leading up to the intersection. They will also examine the intersection to see if any stop signs need to be moved or added.

INDOT could not guarantee Hayes' requests will be granted. But, they are planning to consider them.

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