TAMPA — Before an 8-year-old girl died Sunday night, state officials knew Busch Boulevard needed another crosswalk.
Pedestrians constantly jaywalk across Busch between Nebraska Avenue and 22nd Street. Mothers with strollers. Children seeking convenience store snacks.
That's where Jayla Shubbar, 8, and her 12-year-old sister were headed Saturday morning when Jayla was hit by a car.
The girl, described by classmates as smart and fashionable with a flair for the dramatic, died later during surgery.
It's a busy stretch of highway, surrounded by working-class neighborhoods where many residents do not have cars. The distance between existing crosswalks is a mile. During a study late last year, the Florida Department of Transportation counted 50 pedestrians jaywalking there in one hour.
The department has been working on plans to install a crosswalk at Busch and 12th Street, said spokeswoman Kris Carson, but when Jayla died, workers had not broken ground.
She was not the first to be hit by a car in that area.
Between 2007 and 2012, state officials recorded 18 crashes involving pedestrians in that 1-mile stretch of Busch.
Fourteen of them were in crashes like the one involving Jayla, in which the person was crossing mid block. Two were fatal, one in 2008 and one in 2009.
Jayla was the youngest to die, according to the FDOT's count. She was in the third grade at Sulphur Springs Elementary School, where crisis counselors saw children Monday.
Her classmates made cards for her. They wrote, "We'll miss you." One wished her a Happy Valentine's Day.
Jayla's mother, Darcien Shubbar, left her own message Monday on Facebook for all to see:
"I need to say thank u to everyone who knows what happened today for the prayers … they were answered! Jayla Ariyana my sweet baby is now in heaven where she wont have to feel any pain ever again. …
"I'm trying to inform anyone who cared for her while I'm still in shock … and I ask for prayers for Jazmine since she witnessed her sister get hit by a car n she can still very much feel pain. …
"God bless n hold your little ones tight please!!!!"
The FDOT says it will continue with plans to put in a crosswalk at Busch and 12th Street. It will not be a traffic light. Instead, pedestrians who press a button will trigger flashing lights to warn motorists, who are required to yield.
Department spokeswoman Carson said it probably will be completed within several months.
Times news researcher John Martin contributed to this report. Jessica Vander Velde can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (813) 226-3433.