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Des Moines Partners With School System to Plan Safety Improvements on SW 9th Street

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DES MOINES, Iowa  --  The memorial where Antonio Sanchez-Peck lost his life serves as a stark reminder of what can happen in the blink of an eye.

“People would just walk in front of cars, could be a green light, cars barreling towards you and you just start walking,” said Lincoln High School sophomore Cameron Hoang.

Des Moines schools and the city are now working on ways to help prevent future tragedies like the one that took place earlier in the month.

“What we're looking at now is changing some of the landscaping here on the east side to better guide students to the controlled intersection. I think probably the main element would be new sidewalks that might be diagonal towards the intersection,” said Des Moines Public Schools Chief Operating Officer Bill Good.

Some safety measures have already been put in place. The school is now only allowing students to exit on the north and south sides of the school, more in line with the intersections, and there is more staff near the street around dismissal.

There are other options on the table, as well.

“In many neighborhood schools, as you approach cross walks you might see blinking lights that would alert motorists to the fact there are pedestrians in an area in front of them. That's one of the measures they've asked us to examine,” said Deputy City Manager Carl Metzger.

Despite the heavy pedestrian traffic, there have not been many incidents between the two streets that flank Lincoln. Including last month's fatality, the Iowa Department of Transportation says there have only been three car versus pedestrian accidents over the last five years. While the school wants to do more to promote safety, there is only so much they say they can do.

“We can guide, but we can't dictate,” said Good.

Students say seeing the memorial every time they cross the street has made a difference in how they cross.

“After the accident I can see more noticeably that people are using the crosswalks, waiting for the signs to come up,” said sophomore Aiden Huber.

The City of Des Moines has approved a new traffic engineer position to allow more time diagnosing other schools in the district.

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