Parents Say Ector Crosswalk is an Accident Waiting to Happen

by Victor Lopez
NewsWest 9

ODESSA--Home made video shows cars zooming through the crosswalk during school hours.  As NewsWest 9 found out, ECISD is not to blame in this case.

Parents say, during the afternoon pick-up, around 3:45p.m. and 4:00p.m., their children are risking their lives, just trying to cross the street and make it home.  They say they've complained to the city, the school district, even the police department, to have something done. They fear their pleas are falling on deaf ears.

"Do you know how bad I would feel if one of those kids got hurt? Knowing what I know? Knowing what I see? I can't live with that," Deborah Nerren, grandmother of an Ector student, said.

Deborah and her daughter Deedra sat across the street from Ector Junior High, recording the traffic at one particular crosswalk.  They say they've seen it all, from people speeding through the school zone to drivers talking on their cell phones.

"Even bus drivers, postal workers, we see them going through there, speeding. The kids are trying to get across, their dodging cars, trying to get across the street," Deborah explained.

Some vehicles stop when the kids get close to entering the crosswalk. Others slow down, a bit.  But others, still drive right in between a group of kids, already walking across the street.

According to Eric Outlaw, who's daughter attends Ector, "We make laws everyday and they uphold the laws. So there has to be a way to get this done. Lots of other things are made to happen than getting a crosswalk guard for a school."

As part of our investigation, NewsWest 9 spoke with officials from ECISD, the City of Odessa and the Odessa Police Department. They say crossing guards are not hired by the school district.  They're hired by the city. They're only put in crosswalks near elementary schools and it takes a higher power then them to make the kinds of changes these parents want.

According to Andrea Goodson, Public Information Officer for the City of Odessa, "It's not a matter that the Odessa Police Department or the school district or the Traffic Engineering Department for the city doesn't want to put a crossing guard at that location.  We don't have the authority. Anything like that has to go before council and council needs to approve that."

Deborah says she's going to fight as long as it takes to see improvements. Eric says he'll do what it takes as well.  Mother, Deedra has only had her daughter at Ector since the start of the school year. She's afraid she's in for a long three year wait.

"I'm getting real frustrated with sitting there, every day watching it and nothing is changing. And I don't want my kid to be one of the ones to get hit or whatever," she said.

It isn't just the everyday traffic, going up and down Clements, that's to blame.  It's the parents too.  They zoom through the crosswalk, turn into the parking lot across the street and sit and wait for their child to get out of school.