GREAT FALLS — A private school in Great Falls is hoping someone comes forward and takes responsibility for hitting a pedestrian sign in front of the school last month. It wasn’t just the damage that has school officials confused.
The intersection at 29th Street South and Central Avenue in Great Falls has hundreds of cars and trucks pass by each day. Most drivers know that they need to slow down because it is a school zone. Holy Spirit Catholic School is located right on the corner. Some drivers, however, might not be aware.
“September 21st of this year we had a pedestrian sign outside and a person came by and hit it,” said Sandi Welsh, president of the Holy Spirit Scholl Home and School Association.
Welsh, who shared the school’s security camera video of the incident with MTN, says she’s most concerned about safety of the students.
“If it would have been a child, she would have not seen the child either,” said Welsh. “And it does concern us. Our number one concern is to keep our kids safe.”
To make matters worse, instead of being able to salvage the sign and repair it, someone came along about 15 minutes later and stole the other half of the split sign.
“Shortly afterwards, a vehicle shows up and he takes his time, he has to go across the street and pick up the sign and wait for traffic. As soon as he grabs the sign, he goes running back to his vehicle, throws it in the backseat and takes off,” said Welsh.
Even though the incident happened around 11:30 a.m., the school does have programs at that time in which parents come to pick up their kids.
Welsh says not everyone might know that the area is a school zone. She said they did get some help temporary help to remind people.
“We called the city, and the city did, for a week, put out a radar sign that flashes at you and reminds you this is a school zone,” said Welsh. “They also had the strips going across this road as well.”
Welsh said the school is still awaiting data from the city on the traffic survey.
She says they notified police but was told there was nothing they could do. The Home and School Association bought the sign for nearly $300.
Welsh says this is the second sign the Home and School Association has bought after a school bus hit one several years ago.
“If the person who hit the sign would like to buy us a new sign, that would be awesome,” said Welsh. “Or even an apology saying, “Hey, my bad. I really didn't mean to hit your sign. If I can do something to help out, that would be awesome.”
Welsh says they’re not out to shame the person who hit the sign, they just want to raise awareness.
“Halloween's coming up, and we want to make sure these kids are safe,” said Welsh. “But year-round, when school is going on, I know when I'm driving around, I see kids at intersections waiting for people to stop and people just keep on going by. We really need to realize that the pedestrians have the right away.”
Welsh added the school talked about adding flashing lights to the school crossing sign on the corner to ease student anxiety and be another reminder for drivers to slow down.
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