Authorities are pushing for change on a deadly portion of Hwy. 378 following a death of a child.
SUMTER, S.C. — Sumter residents are pleading for safety measures to be put into place along a deadly portion of Highway 378 near Shoney’s in Sumter.
The highway itself is four lanes, and there are two frontage roads making for six lanes of traffic in all.
Many residents cut across the busy section of highway to get to stores and restaurants. As a result, more accidents are being reported as they try to beat the traffic.
The most recent victim was a 9-year-old boy who was struck and later died while crossing the road.
Samuel Myers, Executive Director of Operations with the Sumter School District is pleading for action after, his student, nine-year-old Za’Hiar Hammet, was killed crossing the highway.
“He is one of our students, Myers said. “We’ve just lost another one of our young people.”
Myers said he was born in Sumter, growing up across the highway, in one of the neighborhoods. “I grew up in the Walnut Hill area. My mother continues to live there and so do folks I know.”
Melissa Linster, also a Sumter resident, said she sees pedestrians crossing the six lanes of traffic daily. “I think they should put an overpass over or a store across the road for the children,” she said.
For those that don’t make it across, they either end up seriously injured or even worse, dead.
“Its unfortunate, but it’s happening very frequently,” Sumter County Coroner Robbie Baker said. “Most of them have been wearing dark clothing, and they come around those curves, and, unfortunately, they don’t see ’em until it’s too late.”
At Tuesday’s regular Sumter County Council meeting, Myers spoke to push pushing for council to implement safety measures like “flashing lights so that persons will know this is a safe zone … A bigger picture is trying to construct a bridge or walk across.”
Coroner Baker agrees. “I would like to see a traffic survey done by the federal government, and I would like to see if there’s an enclosed walkway that could be put over the four lanes of highway.”
In a statement, Sumter County Councilman Carlton Washington said, “The entire Sumter County Council is saddened by the recent unfortunate loss. Our entire Council is in discussion about making this area safer for residents. Incidents like this remind us all that we must be vigilant about safety and the protection of our citizens. We will look at immediate and long term solutions to keep our community safe.”
The South Carolina Department of Transportation said in a statement that they have an active safety project underway on US 76/378. “This project’s purpose is to improve safety by reducing the frequency of fatal and serious injury crashes. This will include widened shoulders, brightened pavement markings and new rumble strips.”