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Pinellas County considers stop signs along road where four teens died in crash

SEMINOLE — It's up to residents in the neighborhood to decide whether stop signs should be placed along a road where four teenagers died in a horrific crash.

Pinellas County officials will distribute a petition laying out the proposal for slowing traffic along 86th Avenue N. The plan is to place three-way stop signs at the intersections of 86th and 143rd, 141st and 139th streets. At least 60 percent of the neighbors must sign it for the plan to go through.

The county's decision to consider placing stop signs came after a meeting of 107 neighbors. The three-way sign proposal was the most popular idea, getting 53 votes. Those at the meeting turned down other ideas that included installing speed bumps or humps, having sheriff's deputies patrol the area more often, or putting in four-way stops at several intersections.

This is not the first time the county has tried to install stop signs or place other traffic control devices along the street. But in the past, the proposals have failed to get the required support from area residents.

Neighbors may be more willing to support the proposal because of the April 10 crash. The driver, Joey Ruzecki, 16, was traveling more than 70 mph along the residential street, according to a preliminary report of the Florida Highway Patrol. The speed limit there is 25 mph.

Ruzecki tried to pass on the left another car that was slowing to make a left turn onto 141st. Ruzecki hit the other car and both spun out of control.

The driver of the other car, Richard Allen Goltl, 42, was not injured. But four teens were thrown from Ruzecki's car, which hit a pine tree and burst into flames. Ruzecki was not thrown out because he had his seat belt on.

Dead were Ruzecki, Nathan Richardson, 15, Keith MacCollom, 17, and LeShawn Smith, 16. Corey Lepore, 17, was thrown from the front passenger seat into a nearby yard. He was taken to the hospital suffering from a concussion and broken bones. He survived.

Pinellas County considers stop signs along road where four teens died in crash 07/25/09 [Last modified: Saturday, July 25, 2009 4:31am]
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