Richburg gets its school zone

RICHBURG -- Chester County leaders will soon get the school zone they wanted near S.C. 9 and Lewisville High School Road, the intersection where two elementary school students were killed in a March wreck.

A letter sent to the county supervisor's office dated July 26 says that because of community concerns, the state Department of Transportation will reduce the speed limit by at least 10 miles per hour during school traffic hours and install additional flashing signs warning a school is nearby.

The DOT plans to make the changes before school begins Aug. 20, according to the letter.

"Exactly what I was looking for," County Supervisor Carlisle Roddey said of the school zone. "I'm very, very pleased, and I thank them."

The decision was announced after several local leaders publicly said they wanted an answer to the school zone requests they made in April. Roddey also sent the DOT a petition that had been dropped off at County Councilman Brad Jordan's office.

The petition had more than 3,200 signatures from people wanting the intersection modified.

During the months after the March crash, local DOT officials told The Herald they were evaluating the situation and waiting on a report from the S.C. Highway Patrol.

Last week, an engineer said the DOT would inform the politicians of the DOT decision first, then the media.

Stan Bland, the head of the local DOT engineering department, could not be reached for comment Monday.

The crash happened March 26 when troopers say 51-year-old George Rogers ran a red light on S.C. 9 and slammed into a minivan at the Lewisville High School Road intersection just as school was getting out.

The crash killed 9-year-old Hannah Quinton and 7-year-old Nicholas Cherry. Both were students at Lewisville Elementary School. Hannah's mother, Alice, was driving the van.

Hannah's 7-year-old brother, Timmy, and Nicholas' 5-year-old sister, Taylor, were passengers. Alice Quinton, Timmy Quinton and Taylor Cherry were flown to Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte. All have since been released.

Rogers was charged with two counts of reckless homicide. At a probable cause hearing last month, a member of the Highway Patrol's collision reconstruction team testified that a mechanical specialist found "numerous defects" with the logging truck, including problems with the brakes and tires.

He said the loaded 80,000-pound vehicle had 10 brakes, but only four were working at the time of the crash.

Although the intersection met federal road standards at the time of the crash, the DOT letter says traffic officials made some changes to the intersection shortly after the wreck, including adding a half-second delay to the traffic lights.

The additional changes came because of the community's statements, the letter said.

Jordan, whose district includes the area where the wreck occurred, made the first motion in April to request the school zone. He told The Herald earlier this month that if the county didn't receive a response soon, he'd try to get the item on the next council meeting's agenda so leaders could explore their options.

Jordan could not be reached for comment Monday.

Along with the County Council, other agencies and boards have made similar requests for a school zone at the S.C. 9 site, including the Chester County School Board and the Fort Lawn Police Department.

"It makes sense," said Fort Lawn Police Chief Richard Smith. Eventually, Smith said, someone is going to run a red light. But if a driver is going slower, the chances of surviving such a crash are better.

"I'm tickled to death," he said of the change. "It's a good thing. I'm glad to see the highway department listen to the people."

Charles D. Perry • 329-4068