HARRIS COUNTY, TEXAS - It’s an accident that could’ve happened to any child, but what are officials doing to make sure it doesn’t happen again?
That’s what parents and classmates of MacArthur High School senior Jose Torres want to know in the wake of his death.
Parents said the school speed zone signs were not flashing when Torres was hit and killed.
Torres was struck and killed by a driver reportedly going up to 40 mph on Aldine Mail Route. It was still dark outside.
Several people told KHOU 11 that some of those signs were still not working properly on Thursday morning, the day after Torres’ death.
“The county engineers did determine that the flashers were malfunctioning. They were not operating in accordance with the times they were probably supposed to,” said Jeremy Phillips, Director of Infrastructure with Harris County Precinct 2.
Jeremy Phillips met KHOU 11 News at the spot where Torres’ life came to an end to see concerns of the community firsthand.
He said engineers still haven’t determined why those school speed zone signs weren’t working properly.
Phillips assures parents that the signs should now be working properly.
“If any issues do exist, they’re going to get corrected. Talking to our commissioner, he made it clear, he wants a plan to address the issues here and how we can quickly go about making improvements,” Phillips said.
According to Phillips, the county will now consider installing a crosswalk in the spot where Torres was struck and killed. It will also look into whether street lights provide enough lighting.
Torres, 17, was trying to cross five lanes of traffic in dark clothing when he was struck.
He was coming from an apartment complex from whicbh a number of other students walk to school.
“We don’t need another child to die,” said family friend Marcy Maldonado. “He was not a dog you ran over. He was a human being.”
Family told KHOU 11 News the accident has taken its toll on Torres’ mother.
Relatives and friends have been gathered at the family’s apartment to console the grieving mom.
“It’s hard. It could be my child. It could be yours. This needs to be taken care of,” Maldonado said.
Aldine ISD declined an on-camera interview but sent the following statement:
“We again want to express our condolences to the family of Jose Torres.
Aldine ISD shares the community’s concerns about the safety and traffic issues on Aldine Mail Route. In order to address those concerns, Precinct 2 and the district are each doing separate assessments of traffic patterns on Aldine Mail Route. Once those assessments are complete, we will meet with Precinct 2 to work on solutions.
Each morning, at least one Aldine ISD police officer is stationed on the west end of MacArthur High from 6:30-6:55 a.m. In the afternoon (from 2:30-3 p.m.) there are multiple officers assigned to the MacArthur area to assist with dismissals and traffic control. To regulate traffic, the school will immediately begin enforcing a directional driving plan that will allow vehicles exiting MacArthur High School to only make right turns onto Aldine Mail Route.
Each afternoon during the school week, an announcement is made over the public address system reminding students to use the proper crosswalks when walking to and from school. Those crosswalks are located at Gloger Rd. and Aldine Mail Route and Determined Drive and Aldine Mail Route.
We will work with law enforcement to assist with traffic control. We ask that motorists strictly observe the 20 mph school speed zone during arrival and dismissal times.
We take our community’s concerns seriously and want to provide the safest environment possible for our students and staff. We welcome input from the community and will work with them and county officials to address their concerns.”
Many parents tell KHOU 11 News they’ve been trying to get something done about the school speed zone signs where Wednesday’s accident happened.
If you notice an issue with a traffic light or signal, Harris County has a 24-hour traffic signal maintenance hotline. That number is (713)-881-3210. If the line is busy, it will automatically page the technician on duty to call you back.
(© 2016 KHOU)