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Traffic on C.R. 108, site of deadly accident, like a “drag strip,” neighbor says

A resident along C.R. 108, where an Elkhart girl was hit by a truck, says vehicles frequently speed on the roadway.
Posted on May 22, 2012 at 1:00 a.m. | Updated on May 22, 2012 at 7:52 p.m.

ELKHART — The traffic on C.R. 108 may not be heavy, but when autos come, they come fast, according to Michelle Johnsen.

“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.


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