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Mom Asks Village Board to Support 'Kaylah's Cause'

The mother of a Hometown eighth-grader who was killed crossing the intersection of Cicero Avenue and Southwest Highway asks for Oak Lawn Village Board's help to make corner safer for pedestrians.

In a room before sobbing parents and children, Krista Wilkinson spoke of the agony that her family has suffered in the six weeks since her daughter, Kaylah Lentine, 14, was struck by a pickup truck and killed crossing the intersection of Southwest Highway and Cicero Avenue.

Watch the video of Krista Wilkinson's statement.

Kaylah had missed the school bus the morning of May 24 and decided to walk the two miles from her family’s residence in Hometown to where she was to have received a leadership award at the eighth-grade awards assembly.

The accident is still under police investigation and no charges have been brought against the driver.

“My daughter Kaylah was a great kid,” Wilkinson said, speaking before the on Tuesday.

“She was a loving big sister, granddaughter, daughter, niece, cousin and friend," Wilkinson said of her daughter. "She was a member of SADD, Students Against Destructive Decisions, for four years beginning in grade school, and the leader for the last two years at the middle school.”

Read the 2011 story of OLHMS's SADD efforts to promote prom safety.

Wilkinson, her father, Don, and other family members are asking the village to lobby the Illinois Department of Transportation for

The family believes that had there been a pedestrian crossing light and ADA-compliant pedestrian access at the intersection, Kaylah might be alive today.

Supported by her fiancé, Bob Nelson, during public comments at Tuesday’s Oak Lawn Village Board meeting, Wilkinson told village board members The intersection of Southwest Highway and Cicero Avenue is the only intersection, traveling south along Cicero from 79th Street to 115th Street, that does NOT have a pedestrian Crossing Light with an activation button. 

“Instead of taking her and her friends to laser tag, and planning her graduation party this summer, I had to plan her wake and funeral,” the Hometown mom said. “Why should the choice to walk to school be a deadly one?”

Active Transportation Alliance, a transportation advocacy group that has worked with such towns as Des Plaines to develop safer and more walkable communities, has compiled a list of recommendations to modify the intersection.

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According to ActiveTrans, there were 21 pedestrian and bicycle accidents involving cars that occurred along Cicero Avenue between 91st and 95th Streets, and on 95th Street between Museum Drive and Kilbourn Avenue, based on IDOT statistics for 2006-2010.

Three pedestrian fatalities happened at 92nd and 95th Street at Cicero Avenue, and at 95th Street and Kenton Avenue.

Proposed modifications for the Cicero Avenue and Southwest Highway intersection include:

  • 8 new zebra style crosswalks;
  • 8 pedestrian signals with countdown timers;
  • 2 new pedestrian islands;
  • 12 truncated domes and
  • 12 ADA-compliant curb ramps.

Trustee Alex Olejniczak (Dist. 2), in whose district where Kaylah Lentine was killed, said the had and met with the girl’s family a few weeks ago to discuss their concerns.

“I would hope that we as a village board would support these modifications and do everything we can to bring this up in front of IDOT,” Olejniczak said. “I know that State. Rep. Kelly Burke said that she would also work on making this a safer intersection.”

Mayor Dave Heilmann said he’d like the see the process accelerated through IDOT before school starts up again next month.

"Do what Kaylah would have done for any of her friends or family members," Wilkinson said, " and make it safe for kids and adults in our community to walk, bike and drive."

Krista Wilkinson and family are asking residents in Oak Lawn and Hometown to support “Kaylah’s Cause,” by printing the pdf of the traffic request form, and circulating and signing the petitions. Only one person per household may sign the petition. Mail the petitions to Kaylah’s Cause. c/o 4570 W. 88th Street, Hometown, IL, 60456. The petitions need to be submitted to the village by July 25.

IF YOU CANNOT GET THE PDF TO PRINT, PLEASE EMAIL LORRAINE AT LORRAINE.SWANSON@PATCH.COM.

William Melvin July 12, 2012 at 01:58 PM
To Loraine: I uploaded a photo by mistake. I was trying to upload a video Kaylah's friends made for her. You can delete the photo. I was trying to delete it but can't figure out how. I apologize
Samara July 12, 2012 at 04:02 PM
I'm 32 years old and for me as a grown adult am puzzled on how to cross that intersection, the bottom line is it needs modifications! I live in the Hometown Co=op and last summer my daughter and i almost got hit by a car crossing from Cicero to 88th PL, we were coming back home after working out at LA Fitness, we stood there waiting for the light to turn red on Cicero for the cars to stop almost 7 minutes, i hit the activation button several times and it never worked, finally the light turned red and we began not walking but running and HALF WAY through the light went green for Cicero once again! the left and middle lane saw me crossing and waited but a car zooming down the right lane couldnt or didnt see us and i don't know what made me turn my head but i saw the car coming and jumped back with my 5 year old, the car never even slowed down or hit the brakes that is the last time i ever crossed Cicero, i cannot imagine how an elderly person, diasbled person or as in this sad case how a child like Kaylah could cross safely! Cicero is a beast! I know there are tons of safe drivers but there are even more reckless ones who zoom down the streets as if they owned them and don't even realize that there are people on foot that they need to look out for, i have also heard complaints from the intersection from the CVS on 87th crossing over to Uncle Sams that the pedestrian light doesn't work either! I think all f Cicero needs to be modifies.
PD July 12, 2012 at 09:15 PM
How insensitive is the comment above. If he/she wasn't there why should he/she even comment!! Kaylah is not here to defend herself.
Lorraine Swanson July 13, 2012 at 06:41 AM
Samara, all of the traffic lights north on Cicero Avenue between 95th and 115th Streets have been updated.
Jim Chalil July 31, 2012 at 05:23 PM
How sad is it when a child isn't given the opportunity to life their life to the fullest and a parent having to bury their child..These things when possible should not happen and having some safer options at this large and busy intersection can only help people avoid injury and death so I support any changes that can be made to make it safer for all especially those that live in the community and in that area. I as a resident find this intersection ridiculous! It is always busy (Watch it for one day and you will see) and people at many times don't even pay attention to the lights that are there so we need to make it safer for pedestrians to go from one are to the other. If the city or the town can cough up the money to make it safer for the people then the people need to do what is best for them and their future generations and if that means collecting money to pay for this on our own so then be it. If each person in our community were to pay $10.00 as a minimum we wouldn't have any problem funding this and I am sure many of us would pay more as we have children and know how unsafe this intersection is and are more than willing to protect and keep them safe at any cost. I can't imagine what Kaylah's family is going thru and don't think they should have had to go thru this. If you have seen this intersection in the morning by actually trying to cross it then you would know why it needs to be addressed. I for one any not open to the chance of anyone else getting injured here .

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