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Father calls for safety changes after daughter killed in Andover crosswalk

Father calls for safety changes after daughter's death at Andover intersection
Father calls for safety changes after daughter's death at Andover intersection 02:16

ANDOVER - The father of a 5-year-old girl who was hit and killed in Andover said lives are at risk if changes don't happen at the Elm Square intersection.

Even before his 5-year-old girl was hit and killed there, many people in the community spoke out at a Safety Forum on Thursday, saying it's been dangerous.

The father's call to action is coming from a place of unthinkable loss.

On May 9th, 2023, Eric Olson and his family lost their beloved 5-year-old girl Sidney Mae Olson after she was hit and killed by a truck hit as she crossed Elm Street in Elm Square, Downtown Andover.

"I would never want anyone else to feel the pain that we feel, we've had very dark moments, but there's hopeful moments like tonight where we see her spirit moving on," said Eric Olson. "Tonight's not really about purely responding to what happened to my daughter it's making sure it doesn't happen again."

The 5-year-old was hit and killed by a tractor-trailer on Tuesday and her family is now calling on the town to make the intersection more safe. The Olson family

The Olsons and a group of concerned parents called Sidney's Rainbows want the city to make urgent changes at Elm Square to prevent another tragedy.

In April 2022, a 78-year-old woman was killed after she was hit by a vehicle at the intersection of Elm and Whittier Streets, which is just a few blocks down from where Sidney was killed.

"I think we can all agree that no one should die in a crosswalk," said Olson at the meeting.

At the Safety Forum on Elm Square, they proposed safety improvements like moving vehicle stop lines further back from crosswalks-which the city has now done, also, not allowing cars to turn through intersections when pedestrians have the walk sign, slowing down the speed limit in the area and police patrols at peak traffic times.

"If you feel that you're unsafe, you won't want to bring your children somewhere," said Elyse Andrews, a concerned parent with Sidney's Rainbows. "I've spoken to many, many parents of young children especially who feel the same way, they feel scared, they feel worried, they feel a lot of anxiety over the safety of the town and particularly the Elm Square intersection."

City of Andover officials and engineers say the intersection was last designed in 2006 and yet the town is rapidly growing. Right now, the city is in the process of starting a Road Safety Audit to come up with changes.

A long line of frustrated neighbors attested to their near misses at the Thursday meeting.

Now a rainbow sits at the intersection to honor a vibrant child who loved everyone and serve as a tragic reminder of what's at stake.

"She was someone who really thrived in the community and loved people and so if she's able to do good, that gives us a great deal of hope," said Olson.

The city says they plan to have the final recommendations on changes in 8-10 weeks. 

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