String of crashes alarms residents

Ellkhart Truth file photo The area near the intersection of Johnson Street and Modrell Avenue/Boulevard has had three crashes in a week. In 2017, 1.6 million gallons of water poured onto a property when a fire hydrant was hit in the same intersection.

ELKHART — A string of crashes near an Elkhart intersection has residents demanding action from the city.

In the latest crash, which happened about 11:30 p.m. Sunday, a Mishawaka woman was arrested after crashing a vehicle with her 5-year-old child inside into a tree on Johnson Street. Misty Perez, 28, appeared to be intoxicated by marijuana, according to the Elkhart Police Department.

Perez and her child were taken to Elkhart General Hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. The child was taken into the care of the Indiana Department of Child Services, police said. Perez was later taken to the Elkhart County Jail and charged with neglect of a dependent, operating while intoxicated endangerment and operating while intoxicated causing serious injury.

Public information officer Lt. Travis Snider said the crash was one of three this year near the intersection of Johnson Street and Modrell Boulevard/Avenue. All three happened within about a week.

Around 8 p.m. Feb. 24, a car went left of center and hit an oncoming car on Johnson Street between Modrell and Woodlawn avenues. 

At 3:22 a.m. Feb. 25, a car ran the stop sign at the intersection and hit a car on Johnson Street.

Some residents in the area want the city to do something about the problem, and say accidents in the area are nothing new.

“In the last week we’ve had three, and that’s not unusual. I can’t tell you how many we’ve had over the years,” resident Michael Baker said. “I had the fire hydrant hit in my yard two years ago. I’ve come home to where people actually ran the stop sign and ended up on the front stoop of my house.”

Reports indicate 1.6 million gallons of water poured onto Baker’s property when the fire hydrant was hit in January 2017. 

Baker said people have a hard time seeing the stop signs in the intersection, even though a light has been placed on one of them.

“That was like taking a major surgery and putting a Band-Aid on it,” he said.

Since the January 2017 crash, Baker’s wife has dealt with anxiety and sleep deprivation. That gets worse every time there’s a new crash, he said. 

Elkhart Mayor Tim Neese’s communications director, Courtney Bearsch, said two of the three reported crashes this year were likely tied to people driving under the influence. She said the Mayor’s Office has asked the engineering and street departments to conduct traffic counts on Modrell, Sunset and Woodlawn avenues, which all connect Cassopolis and Johnson streets.

The count will tell the city the number of vehicles traveling those streets as well as their approximate speeds, enabling the city to take educated steps, Bearsch said.

Police will be increasing patrols in the areas as well, she said, specifically targeting impaired drivers and those who disregard stop signs. 

Baker suggested that a solar powered blinking stop sign be put up.

“Is this going to take somebody to get killed before they spend $1,500 to put up stop signs that you can see?” he said.

Bearsch said the city will consider all options.

(1) comment


The city should change the intersection of Johnson and Modrell Sts to a four way stop intersection with rumble strips northbound and southbound on Johnson St.

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