Wednesday, October 29, 2003

Death raises fears on road



By Marie McCain
The Cincinnati Enquirer

[photo]
Kaitlin Lucchesi

UNION TWP. - Emma Sweet doesn't want to see anyone else die.

In the wake of a Monday afternoon crash that took the life of a Glen Este High School freshman, the Round Bottom Road resident said she'd renew efforts to get police to watch the road better.

"We want a police officer to sit along Round Bottom and make sure people are driving safely," Sweet said Tuesday. "We used to ride our bikes down this road. I wouldn't dare ride a bike down it now."

Investigators in this western Clermont County township are still looking into why a car carrying 14-year-old Kaitlin Lucchesi careered into a utility pole. The single-car wreck occurred shortly after 4 p.m. Monday in the 800 block of Round Bottom, not far from Barg Salt Run Road.

Kaitlin, of Mount Carmel, was a passenger in the car driven by a 16-year-old Covington boy. Two other boys, 14 and 15, also of Mount Carmel, were also in the car, officials said. It was unknown Tuesday whether the teens were wearing seat belts.

Only Kaitlin suffered life-threatening injuries. The boys were treated and released from area hospitals.

School officials said at least two of the boys are students at an alternative school in Williamsburg.

Dennis Ashworth, Glen Este High principal, said about 70 students visited with the 16 grief counselors called to the school Tuesday.

"We understand that they're hurting and need to express their grief," said Ashworth of Kaitlin's classmates.

"Life is a precious thing, and sometimes teenagers think they're invincible. We need them to understand that they aren't," Ashworth added. "We want them to know that we're here to help them through this - that no matter what, we'll help them cope."

Charges are pending, according to Union Township police.

In the meantime, Round Bottom residents such as Sweet and Richard Aker hope officials will take a closer look at improving safety along the road.

Calling Round Bottom "suicide alley," Aker said it is common to see large gravel trucks speeding along the two-lane road.

Aker added that about 30 bicyclists also frequently use the road. "This is too narrow to be an industrial road, and with those cyclers - it's a wonder more people haven't died," he said.

The stretch where the crash occurred does not have a posted speed limit, so the default limit is 55 mph.

"The road is full of skid marks," Aker said. "One day they'll have to bring a blotter out here. This is a slaughterhouse road."

E-mail mmccain@enquirer.com




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