Garland city council adds new school zone after multiple accidents

In a matter of weeks, three students were struck by cars near Garland High School. Two of them were hit on the same busy road that passes the school.

The city council took action Tuesday night by voting on a proposal to slow cars down on Garland Avenue by adding a school zone.

The city council voted to establish a new 20 mile per hour school zone on South Harland Avenue, where two of the three students recently hit by cars were crossing the street.

After senior Natalia Estrada was badly hurt in a hit and run near Garland High School in January, parent Emily Coker was sympathetic. But the concern turned to outrage a few weeks later when Caleb Burge was hit in the same crosswalk.

“It lit me on fire on the inside when the second one was hit,” Coker said.

One of Coker's kids, Haley Hughey, helped start a safety club at school while Coker and another mom spent most mornings acting as self-appointed crossing guards.

“I'm going to stand there until somebody puts a school zone in, until somebody notices two kids being hit so close together,” Coker said. “It's an issue. It's a problem.”

Last month, Natalia Estrada's aunt told the city council it needs to find a way to slow cars down near Garland High.

On Tuesday, the city council voted to add a school zone on South Garland Avenue, where the speed limit is currently 35 miles an hour.

For Coker, it's a step toward making sure cars on the street know students are stepping out.

“You don’t know you're coming up on a school until you're already there,” she said. “At least with the school zone, they'll at least be aware the children are there. And it's a lot easier to stop at 20 miles an hour than it is at 40.”

Garland High has school zones on Avenues B and D on either side of the school. The third student hit was hit in a school zone and was not as badly injured.

Coker says she's seen students push the crosswalk button and start crossing before cars stop saying there's inattention from both pedestrians and drivers.

Garland police say the drivers were found at fault in both Caleb Burge and Natalia Estrada's cases. Estrada's hit and run driver has still not been caught.