Originally created 05/22/01

Highway dangers realized



Kathy Chavous and her neighbor Sherry Chrisco often said it would take someone getting killed to get something done about the speeders on Old U.S. Highway 1 that runs in front of their homes.

They never dreamed that "someone" would be Mrs. Chrisco's 8-year-old daughter, Laura, who died Saturday after running into the path of an oncoming car in front of her home, Ms. Chavous said.

She said she had called the Augusta Traffic Engineering Department twice during the past month asking for speed-limit signs and the Richmond County Sheriff's Office four times requesting patrol units along the road. Old U.S. Highway 1 has become a detour between Old Tobacco Road and U.S. Highway 1 during highway construction.

A deputy came to her house Easter Sunday.

"He told me the procedure to go through to try to get something done," she said. "After I talked to him, I gave it about a week or maybe a week and a half and I called the office of records. And I asked them to make sure they had this on their route as places they were patrolling on a regular basis, and they assured me that they would. And I've seen very little being done. I hate to say that."

Laura was struck by a vehicle driven by Kilian Lanard Palmer, 18, of the 2700 block of Tobacco Road. Mr. Palmer and four other teens were on their way from a friend's house when the little girl darted into the road toward her mother, who was across the street walking their dog. No charges have been filed in the accident.

Mrs. Chrisco, 46, suffered a heart attack at the Medical College of Georgia Hospital shortly after Laura died, according to her husband, Henry Chrisco.

Laura was a second-grade honor pupil at Jamestown Elementary School. Her father described her as a "happy, easy going child.

"She worshiped the ground I walked on," he said. "She was Daddy's baby. I carried her to bed on my back every night."

The family had spent the day at Thurmond Lake on Saturday, grilling out, swimming and water skiing. When they got home, Mrs. Chriscodecided to take the dog for a walk, while her husband parked the car and boat.

"I didn't know she had run off to be with her mother," Mr. Chrisco said. "I knew something was wrong when I heard Sherry scream."

Mr. Chrisco ran to where his daughter was laying and carried her to the end of his driveway where he collapsed, he said.

Sheriff's office Col. Gary Powell said the commander of the south precinct, which encompasses areas south of Gordon Highway, had received no complaints about speeding on Old U.S. Highway 1.

"If they really want to get something done, they need to call the precinct that area is in, the division commander or call me," Col. Powell said.

The commander of the south precinct is Major Larry Vinson. His number is 261-0676. People in the north precinct, which covers areas north of Gordon Highway, should call Major Richard Weaver at 821-1485. Col. Powell can be reached at 821-1065.

Reach Sylvia Cooper at (706) 823-3228 or sylviaco@augustachronicle.com.