Maplewood resident Eddie Bennett sent the letter below to the Maplewood Township Committee and the Maplewood Police Chief after a boy was hit by a car this morning. More on the accident is here. Letter reprinted with Bennett's permission.
Bennett has created a Facebook community page, Slow Down SOMA, with the mission to "take action as a community to combat speeding and unsafe driving in our towns. We no longer accept the status quo that endangers our children."
Dear Township Committee and Police Chief,
I write to you this morning after being the first person at the scene of a mother cradling her son face down in the street after being hit by a car in a crosswalk on their way to school.
I am shaken, and crying, but not surprised.
Some of you know me already, because I have been the person getting petitions signed, bothering you about speeding and accidents on this street, and probably one of the biggest pests you have had (besides my neighbor, Ellie) when it has come to safety on Prospect Street (between Concord and Springfield).
I hold you all personally responsible for what has happened today!
I have emails dating back to 2008, asking for the township to do something about the speeding between Concord and Springfield. This is a neighborhood FULL of children and the cars have no regard for crosswalks or people.
We have asked for SPEED BUMPS and thank you town engineer for putting in a "raised intersection" up instead that feels like you are driving over a piece of paper . I challenge anyone to see if it slows you down (intersection of Hilton and Prospect).
Plus the lighted crosswalk, thank you for that one too, one sign has been put up behind a tree...so no one can see it.
There have been accidents on a monthly basis, cars have flipped into neighbors yards, an accident happened last week taking out a sign that is next to the side walk and we were scared then. But today....everyone's worse fear happened. I don't want to EVER hear a mother scream like that cradling her bleeding son who is crying up at her and asking "Is this real? What happened? Is this real?"
You should all be ashamed of yourselves. We have been asking for years and been told that nothing is wrong. It has been frustrating to deal with at township committee meetings and in person.
Mayor DeLuca, you live around the corner! You have a lot of angry neighbors right now who demand you take action!
We all have kids and are citizens of this town. I have seen speed bumps on other streets, gates, and better ways of dealing with traffic overflow and speeding then what you have provided in the Hilton section of town.
I have added to this email my neighbors, and will be contacting local news sources because you are not going to ignore us any longer.
In past emails I have said that I guess that this town is only going to do something when a child gets hits by a car, well today is the day, unfortunately....
An angered, frustrated, and shaken to the core father,