Crash that killed Eleanor Ball not an isolated incident

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Posted: Monday, April 21, 2014 5:46 pm

SARASOTA, Fla. -- Well-known community activist Eleanor Ball was killed early Saturday morning when a vehicle slammed into the back of her home. ABC 7 has learned this isn't the first time a car crashed into Ball's property.

“This post right here is part of the fence that’s 100 feet away -- it landed in my front yard," says Calvin Bryant, Ball’s neighbor for the last 40 years. The speeding car in question plowed through two fences before entering Ball’s home through a rear wall and coming to rest in the living room.

"I heard the explosion and so I jumped up and jumped across the fence to see what was going on, because I knew at that time the car had went into the house because it had happened before," Bryant says.

According to reports, there have been five accidents at the intersection of 31st Street and Maple Avenue since 1996. Maple Avenue dead-ends against the back of Ball’s house.

"Two of those calls for service were for vehicle verses vehicle in the intersection and two of those calls were for vehicle verse a fence, which is the fence behind us and then of course Saturday when the vehicle went into the house," says Genevieve Judge of the Sarasota Police Department.

But while police say Saturday's accident is the only one on record documented as “car versus building,” Bryant remembers more.

"Normally, cars hit the other bedroom,” he says, “so that’s the one that’s normally repaired because people turn on the right and they miss the bedroom that she sleeps in."

Bryant also remembers Ball reaching out the city for help. ABC 7 confirmed that after a 2003 accident, Ball requested the city install a concrete bollard to prevent cars from coming close to her home. City officials say that request was not approved. And, while they could not give the exact reason for the decline, they did say bollards are not made to stop vehicles, and are usually installed to prevent cars from entering an area where pedestrians walk.

Despite the series of accidents at the location, officials say the intersection is not dangerous and Ball’s death had more to do with Shakera Weeks, the driver of the car that claimed Ball’s life.

"This situation, I think you have some factors that are a little out of the ordinary” says Judge. “[Weeks] was traveling at speeds estimated to be about 70 miles per hours down Maple Avenue, and the posted speed limit sign here is 25 miles per hour, and she was also fleeing from a burglary situation that was seven blocks over."

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