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'This was a tragedy waiting to happen': Arizona community pleading for change after child hit, killed while crossing highway

A boy was hit and killed while crossing a busy highway near Flagstaff over the weekend. Residents are asking for something to be done about the ongoing problem.

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. — A Northern Arizona community is pleading for change after an 11-year-old child died on Saturday after they were struck by a car while trying to cross a highway near Flagstaff.

The crash happened around 1:30 p.m. along Highway 180, about three miles west of the city, according to the Department of Public Safety.

The Arizona Department of Public Safety said the boy was a citizen of Mexico and declined to release his name. 

DPS said the boy was hit by a Jeep driven by a 20-year-old California resident who remained at the scene.

It is a scenario Kathy Perkins and her neighbors have feared for a long time.

“All of us out here are very upset because we all, for years, have seen this going on and knew something like this would happen,” Perkins said.

Every weekend, Perkins says people line the sides of Highway 180 to play in the snow. She says often vehicles will park partially in the roadway, causing a dangerous situation for those driving along the highway.

“I had a child, about a week before this happened, run right out, and luckily because I’m used to looking, I saw him and stopped,” Perkins said. “But, this was a tragedy waiting to happen.”

Neighbors tell 12 News that they have brought their complaints up before to city and municipal leaders, only to be put off. They are hoping that now, something will be done to stop the illegal parking along Highway 180.

“We’d like to see something done so this doesn’t happen again,” said Perkins. “Some way to block off or put up more signs saying parking is not allowed there.”

DPS says they have not ruled out impairment in this collision and have turned the case over to the Coconino County Attorney’s Office to decide if charges should be filed.

Meanwhile, residents in the area point to Flagstaff Snow Park as a much better option for people to enjoy the high-country snow. 

The snow park located just south of Flagstaff, along Interstate 17, offers snow tube runs, kiddie hills, food trucks, and restrooms.

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Driving Safety Tips: 

The Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) offers driving tips to help keep people safe on the road. 

"There’s always room for improvement when it comes to road safety," the department said on its website. 

ADOT's suggestions include: 

  • Don’t speed or drive aggressively 

  • Never drive while under the influence of substances 

  • Avoid distractions while driving 

  • Wear your seatbelt and make sure all passengers are doing the same 

  • When an emergency vehicle is on the side of the road, move over 

  • Stay extra aware in work zones 

  • Be prepared for weather conditions that make driving dangerous 

Find more tips on the department's Driving Safety Homepage on ADOT's website here. 

"Real-time highway conditions are available on ADOT’s Arizona Traveler Information site at az511.gov, by calling 511, downloading the AZ 511 app and through ADOT’s Twitter feed, @ArizonaDOT," the department said.