Midtown Raleigh News

Traffic light planned at site of Capital Boulevard accident that killed Heritage High student

Traffic backs up after a two-car accident Sept. 29 killed a 15-year-old Heritage High School student and injured four other teens. Two vehicles collided on Capital Boulevard in Wake Forest shortly before 7 a.m., officials said, and closed northbound Capital Boulevard for about three hours while police and state troopers investigated.
Traffic backs up after a two-car accident Sept. 29 killed a 15-year-old Heritage High School student and injured four other teens. Two vehicles collided on Capital Boulevard in Wake Forest shortly before 7 a.m., officials said, and closed northbound Capital Boulevard for about three hours while police and state troopers investigated. cseward@newsobserver.com

A traffic signal is planned for the Capital Boulevard intersection where a Heritage High School student was killed in a car accident Monday.

Braden Rock, 15, died and four other teens were hurt when a carload of students on their way to school attempted to make a left turn from Capital onto Caveness Farms Avenue in front of an oncoming vehicle.

Plans for the signal have been underway for months. Town officials required shopping center developers to pay for the installation of the signal as a condition of building a new Sam’s Club store near the intersection.

Some residents have long asked for a traffic light there. They have said the intersection is unsafe because of the left turn across busy Capital Boulevard and the difficulty turning right into the northbound lanes from Caveness Farms Avenue.

There have been 41 reported crashes at or near the intersection during a five-year period ending in July, according to the N.C. Department of Transportation. Of those, four involved a left turn. Most involved vehicles that were rear-ended while waiting to turn from Caveness Farms onto Capital.

Steve Abbott, a DOT spokesman, said the department has signed off on the signal and other road improvements that the developer will pay for to mitigate traffic.

DOT officials also will investigate the circumstances of the crash, as part of standard procedure in the case of fatal accidents.

“We work with the community and say, ‘What can we do? Can we do something different here?’ ” Abbott said.

DOT Secretary Tony Tata said in a news release Tuesday about a number of recent vehicle-related deaths that the department also would work with schools and driver-education programs to review the safety messages students receive.

“One life lost is too many, and we will do all we can to help prevent future tragedies throughout the state,” Tata said.

Eric Keravuori, Wake Forest’s director of engineering, said he was aware of an online petition started by town residents that asks for fast-tracked approval of a traffic light at the intersection. He said he expects the Sam’s Club developers will move faster than any alternative procedure.

Keravuori also said that in the wake of fatal accidents, residents often criticize town officials, and he’s receptive to hearing their concerns. But he also wants to emphasize the way the Wake Forest families are supporting one another.

“I’m trying to focus more on the positive of everyone gathering together,” he said.

The accident Monday occurred when Faith Rock, 17, of Lindenberg Road in Wake Forest attempted to make the left turn and pulled into the path of a car driven by Wake Forest High School student Oscar Rodriguez-Villa, 17, of Sephora Court in Wake Forest.

Faith Rock’s brother, Braden, was killed, according to the State Highway Patrol.

Rodriguez-Villa, Faith Rock and two other passengers in Rock’s car, Skyla Kirby, 16, of Amandcroft Way in Raleigh and Katie Williams, 16, of Professor Street in Raleigh, were taken to the hospital.

The accident was similar to one that caused the death of a Panther Creek High School student last month.

Laura Yost, 15, was the passenger in an SUV driven by another student that turned left in front of a dump truck on N.C. 55 in Cary on Sept. 16. She died a week later.

Another Wake County teen, Wendell Middle School student Keith Jones, 13, was struck and killed by a car while he waited for a school bus Sept. 22.

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