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Rockford residents plea for safer intersection after fatal accident

After hit and run kills 4-year-old boy, neighbors say they need change.
Published: Jul. 23, 2021 at 10:12 PM CDT
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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - A 4-year-old boy died Friday morning after a hit and run accident Thursday night. The accident took place at the intersection of North Central Avenue and School Street. Thirty year old Javaughn Cooper was arrested shortly after fleeing the scene. A 10-year-old girl remains in critical condition as of Friday night following the accident.

The west side intersection has seen many accidents over the years. With a narrow sidewalk, pedestrians walk within a foot of cars.

“They fly up this road,” said Melissa Sims who’s lived on Central Avenue for two years. She said she’s witnessed several accidents in her little time in the neighborhood.

“We saw an accident up there. Literally, the car was tipped over,” said Sims. “My daughter had to get the baby out of the car.”

Sims said if it’s not a car accident, it’s a motorcycle speeding through traffic.

“Something needs to be done about this because now there’s children that are dying,” she said.

She and her husband say they’ve had enough, and have plans to move to a safer place.

“We’re moving August 1st. We’re done. It’s a wrap,” said Robby Sims.

George Clikeman has lived on the street for 70 years. He said the accidents began when they replaced the stop signs with street lights in the ‘70s.

“No doubt about it. Not even close. I grew up here. I didn’t even see an accident,” said Clikeman. “They put the lights here and boy, they’re off to the races.”

Clikeman and another neighbor said it’s so dangerous, they avoid walking that intersection all together.

“I used to walk down there. I’m afraid to. I walk down this way now,” said Clikeman pointing in the opposite direction of School Street. “I don’t walk up there.”

Family of the young boy who died as a result of the hit and run held a vigil at the spot where it happened. They released balloons, lit candles and posted pictures of him.

Javaugn Cooper is now facing charges for leaving the scene of an accident involving injury or death and resisting arrest.

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