No changes anticipated after pedestrian deaths

By Danza Johnson/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – Despite two walkers being killed by vehicles over the past two months, no plans are in the works to make Highway 145 in Shannon safer.
Melvin Houston, 36, of Okolona was the latest casualty of the highway on Saturday night. Shannon Police Chief Desiree Kershner said Houston was crossing Highway 145, also known as Romie Hill Avenue, after visiting some friends at a nearby apartment complex. In December, Shannon high-schooler Sadarius Johnson was struck by a tow truck and killed while crossing Highway 145 not far from where Houston was killed.
Kershner said even though it may seem like a larger problem, both fatalities were accidents.
“I really don’t think these accidents were a part of bigger problems,” said Kershner. “I just think they were freak accidents that just so happen to be in the same area in a close time frame from one another. That highway is well-lit at night and it’s flat enough to see pretty far off.”
Within the mile span where these accidents occurred, there are several homes and apartments with stores across the street. People cross the road regularly.
Both accidents happened at night and both walkers were wearing dark clothing, according to Kershner.
The speed limit on Highway 145 is 45 mph, but speed wasn’t the factor in the December accident, and Kershner said the Saturday accident is under investigation.
Shannon doesn’t have any light signals, and there aren’t any plans at this time of putting one up on Highway 145, according to Mayor Ronnie Hallmark.
“That is property of the Mississippi Department of Transportation so we have no control over putting a light up there, but we haven’t requested one either,” said Hallmark. “I went out there and looked and the area has plenty of light for people to see. I think people just have to be a little more careful when crossing the highway.”
District Engineer for MDOT Bill Jamieson said he was unaware of the accidents and that there are no plans at this time to add any traffic signals.
Richard Johnson was crossing Highway 145 on Tuesday as he does a lot of days, but because of the recent accidents, Johnson took extra time looking both ways before he started across.
“It does make you wonder what is going on for two people to die from being hit by cars on this road,” he said. “You do see cars speeding through sometimes but that happens everywhere. I just don’t know why this has been such a dangerous road lately.”
Kershner said the Mississippi Highway Patrol was scheduled to help with the investigation.

Contact Danza Johnson at (662) 678-1583 or danza.johnson@djournal.com.