County looking at deadly intersection near Pine View School

Updated with statement from Sarasota County Public Works
ABC7 Good Morning Suncoast - Weekdays at 6am
Published: Aug. 31, 2022 at 9:21 AM EDT|Updated: Aug. 31, 2022 at 3:12 PM EDT
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OSPREY, Fla. (WWSB) - Sarasota County will be examining the intersection where a 13-year-old Pine View School student was critically injured by a hit-and-run driver Aug. 16. Some work could begin as early as next week.

Sarasota County Public Works Director Spencer Anderson, in an email to Sarasota County commissioners, says his department is collecting data. “Our transportation team is obtaining current traffic count data at the intersection that will be used to determine if any requested traffic control changes are appropriate.”

Anderson also said the county is adding new sidewalks to the area near the school.

The teen, named Lilly, was hit after school as she was in the crosswalk at Old Venice Road and East Bay Street. She was airlifted to All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg. She died 13 days later.

The suspect in the hit-and-run, David Chang, was initially charged with leaving the scene of a crash causing serious bodily injury, leaving the scene of a crash causing property damage and tampering with evidence.

Since her death, an additional charge of leaving the scene of a crash involving death has been filed. Chang was found and arrested in Arkansas and is being extradited to Florida.

The man behind a petition to change the intersection is a Pine View teacher, Scott Wolfinger.

He says improvements are needed. “It was a shocking accident,” he said. “But, when you really look at the circumstances here, it’s not too surprising.”

The petition has collected close to 5,000 signatures.

Wednesday, ABC7 received the following statement from Public Works regarding the area:

A project to extend the sidewalk further west to Bay Street Park from Old Venice Road has been in the works with construction starting next week. The adjacent lot was cleared for site preparation.

The remaining sections to complete a full sidewalk connection between U.S. 41 and Honore Avenue require private property acquisitions, which the Public Works Transportation team is currently working on.

The crosswalk in the School Zone at Burney Road on Old Venice Avenue was recently upgraded with road striping. And this area had the sidewalk from Pine Ranch Road to Old Venice Avenue added a few years ago, which included a new crosswalk with pedestrian activated flashers at Old Venice Avenue and at a mid-block location closer to Pine Ranch Road. Further west, a crosswalk and signage were also installed on Bay Street at Explorer Drive and Bay Street Park.

Last year the Sarasota County Board of County Commissioners also adopted the Public Works Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan which outlines the county’s safe, convenient and efficient bicycle and pedestrian system that provides access to major destinations within Sarasota County and surrounding counties.