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School van crash in Dravosburg that killed 15-year-old student raises safety questions

School van crash that killed student raises safety questions
School van crash that killed student raises safety questions 02:38

DRAVOSBURG,  Pa. (KDKA) —  The crash that killed a 15-year-old student on Wednesday in Dravosburg is raising safety questions. 

A van carrying students from Serra Catholic High School was attempting to turn from Third Street onto Richland Avenue when it was struck by an oncoming vehicle around 7:20 a.m. Samantha Kalkbrenner was killed in the crash and the other three students on board were transported to the hospital in stable condition. Drivers of both vehicles were transported to the hospital in critical condition. 

KDKA-TV has been talking with those who live in the area and they said Richland Avenue, and more specifically the intersections at Third and Fifth streets, has been problematic for years.

KDKA-TV talked to borough officials, who said Richland Avenue is a county road. Therefore, the officials said it doesn't fall on them to add a traffic stop.

A traffic light has been approved by the state, PennDOT and the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission to be installed once the Mon Valley Expressway is complete. That project is projected to be finished around 2025.

In the meantime, the borough says it could install a traffic light but does not have the funds to do it.

Now, some are pleading that something be done before another tragedy strikes.

"It's sad -- someone, please -- I don't know who I could speak to," pleaded Amy Kovka, another eyewitness of the crash. "Please Dravosburg, do something with this road. How many more accidents are we going to have? How many more people are going to get killed before something gets done?"  

Since this is a county road, KDKA-TV reached out to Allegheny County Public Works to learn if it plans to make any changes sooner than once the expressway is finished.

It sent a statement, saying:

"Our condolences to the family and friends of the girl who tragically died today as a result of a vehicle crash on Richland Avenue. We also pray for the speedy recovery of the others injured during the incident.

"We are not aware of any safety issues on the county-owned portion of Richland Avenue, and we have not received any recent service requests or complaints from the public pertaining to roadway safety there. In light of this morning's crash, our traffic engineers will thoroughly investigate what, if anything, we can do to improve safety at the intersection.

"Please note that the installation and maintenance of traffic signals on county-owned roads are the responsibility of local municipalities. The county does not determine if and where traffic signals are to be installed. Additionally, enforcement of traffic laws is the responsibility of local police departments. We are always open to talk with any community seeking to mitigate any issues on a county-owned road and to assist, as needed."

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