On Sunday afternoon, Sept. 13, my good friends and next door neighbors were turning into their driveway when a speeding car slammed into the passenger side killing JoAnn Wilkerson and seriously injuring her husband Pete.
Having rode in and out of their Portage Road driveway many times with them, I know that both were extra vigilant upon entering and leaving. Their driveway is just below the crest of the hill. We have had many previous conversations about the dangers the hill here presents. With the extreme speed of the car that hit them, they didn't have any chance.
A neighbor to the north of me was struck from behind by someone cresting the hill who was unable to stop, spinning her car into the ditch.
As a neighborhood, we have tried to have something done about the risk we face entering and leaving our driveways. Because of the hill, it is impossible for the four families north of me to see traffic at the bottom of the hill to the south. They must wait to see if a vehicle crests the hill and its speed to determine if it's safe to exit their driveways. To make a left-hand turn into my driveway, I can only see oncoming traffic when I'm even with my driveway — thus, at almost a complete stop. Having almost been hit by inattentive drivers, I flash my brake lights when necessary while waiting for south-bound traffic.
I was not at home on the day of the horrific accident but have been told by neighbors of additional lives in jeopardy that day. As emergency vehicles approached (having been given the name of the closest road to the south) people on the scene had to frantically wave their arms to warn emergency personnel that others were below the crest of the hill and north of that directional road removing debris from the roadway.
The annual Windsor Hill picnic was being held that aversion, and the speeding car ended up at the bottom of the hill in the same area as the picnic. Fortunately, there were no additional injuries.
Portage Road has seen a significant increase in traffic since recent improvements were made to Hwy. 51. Now, with limited access to Hwy. 51, drivers are using Portage Road as an alternate route. Vehicles traveling 65 mph or more are not uncommon even though posted signs read 45 mph. The busy single entrance to the Windsor Hill neighborhood is at the very bottom of the hill. Southbound vehicles cannot see people exiting that road until they crest the top of the hill. Speed being a factor, another accident is probable.
As neighbors, we are collectively urging town and county officials to make interim safety improvements before another tragedy like this occurs. For those unfamiliar with Portage Road and the danger of the hill, at the very least the speed limit should be reduced, “hidden driveway” signs could be installed, and periodic law enforcement presence at the entrance to Windsor Hill could occur.
Our thanks to WKOW TV for interviewing and airing a newscast on the dangers of this section of Portage Road.
Hopefully someone who has the authority and understands the situation will help to initiate safety measures.