Tuesday, November 24, 2020
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The Villages

Death of teens in crash on U.S. 301 spurs sense of urgency for intersection improvement 

In the wake of a double-fatality accident on Saturday morning, Wildwood officials are pressing to speed up installation of better traffic signals at the intersection of U.S. 301 and County Road 472 (Rainey Trail).

City Manager Jason McHugh told city commissioners Monday that he is working to get the state Department of Transportation to finish plans for the intersection so new signals can be installed by March.

Emergency personnel were at the scene of a crash Saturday morning at U.S. 301 and Rainey Trail.

Two teenagers were killed shortly before 8 a.m. Saturday near the intersection when a 19-year-old Summerfield man lost control of a northbound red sedan traveling at a high speed. The sedan crossed the center median into the southbound lanes of U.S. 301 and collided with a white pickup truck driven by a 65-year-old Eustis man.

The Summerfield man and an 18-year-old woman passenger from Ocklawaha were pronounced dead at the scene. The Eustis man and his 28-year-old male passenger from Lady Lake suffered minor injuries.

McHugh said installation of the new signals had not been planned soon.

“Hopefully, we’re ahead of schedule from where we were,” he said.

Left turns at the intersection were blocked a couple years ago as an interim safety measure. A roundabout also was planned for the intersection, but that concept was dropped after local opposition.

Other crashes also have occurred there. In 2018, a 26-year-old Belleview man was killed when a teen driver entered into the path of his motorcycle. A motorcyclist suffered a broken leg in a 2016 collision and several people, including Villagers, were injured in 2015 accident.

An accident involving a motorcycle occurred in 2016 at U.S. 301 and County Road 472.

McHugh said more signals also may be needed farther south on U.S. 301 near the Peppertree Apartments.

In another safety-related issue, Mayor Ed Wolf noted that an 81-year-old longtime resident recently praised Wildwood police for their efforts to ease drug problems on the city’s west side, where massive block parties have been held.

Commissioner Joe Elliott also praised more than a dozen officers who volunteered to help protect Vice President Michael Pence during his Saturday visit to Brownwood.

Police Chief Randy Parmer honored Sgt. James Riley as officer of the quarter. The chief said Riley built the department’s training program from scratch over the past year.

Parmer also introduced six new officers and congratulated another on a promotion.

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