Deadly accident road a ‘drag strip,’ says one resident
Posted: 05/22/2012 at 7:00 pm
By: Tim Vandenack
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Michelle Johnsen poses for a portrait Tuesday, May 22, 2012 next to a sign she created and posted on a neighbors' tree following the death of Da'Jeianna Smith on C.R. 108 last week. Johnsen is making signs with the hope of selling them to raise money to be donated to the Smith family to help with funeral costs for Da'Jeianna. (Truth Photo By Jennifer Shephard)
Calandra Clevenger walks past a sign posted on C.R. 108 near where Da'Jeianna Smith was hit by a truck and later died. Clevenger's mother Michelle Johnsen created the sign and hopes to sell them to raise money for the family to assist with funeral expenses. Clevenger decided to go view the small memorial further down the road that has been marked with flowers following Da'Jeianna's death. (Truth Photo By Jennifer Shephard)
Michelle Johnsen, left, poses for a portrait with her daughter Calandra Clevenger Tuesday, May 22, 2012 next to a sign she created and posted on a neighbors' tree following the death of Da'Jeianna Smith on C.R. 108 last week. Johnsen is making signs with the hope of selling them to raise money to be donated to the Smith family to help with funeral costs for Da'Jeianna. (Truth Photo By Jennifer Shephard)
“This is the drag strip,” she said Tuesday.
There’s no telling for sure if speed factored in the accident last week that led to the death of Da’Jeianna Smith, a 12-year-old Woodland Elementary School fifth-grader. The girl was hit by a pickup on May 16 while walking along the road and died the day after.
But a week later, Johnsen, who lives along C.R. 108 near the site of the accident, said she’s tried to get the Elkhart County Sheriff’s Department officials to crack down on speeders and that, indeed, officials set up a speed trap there sometime over the winter. The posted speed limit is 30 mph on C.R. 108, a short section of roadway west of Woodland Elementary in northwest Elkhart County, but she said vehicles typically go around 45 mph.
In the wake of the accident, Johnsen, who runs a small sign shop, made a sign reading “Slow down! 1 child was hit already!” and posted it on a tree in front of her house. She plans to make more and offer them to neighbors and others for $10 each, donating the funds raised to Da’Jeianna’s family.
The Woodland Elementary girls softball team, meanwhile, plays in the Elkhart Community Schools girls softball championship game on Thursday, and ECS sports officials will present a plaque honoring Da’Jeianna to her coach or family. Da’Jeianna was a member of the Woodland squad.
Elkhart Sheriff’s Department Capt. Jim Bradberry said in an e-mail Tuesday that the department continues to investigate last week’s crash. The driver of the pickup, Norman Yeaky, 56, of Edwardsburg, Mich., hadn’t been cited when the initial sheriff’s department report was issued last week.