LAKE WALES, Fla. (WFLA) — In a time of darkness for a Lake Wales school community, there is also light.
An LED light installed on a utility pole at the intersection of Dr. JA Wiltshire Avenue and Miami Street represents the change that has come about following the death of 13-year-old Jadin Galindo.
Lake Wales police say Galindo was waiting for his school bus before dawn on Feb. 3 when he was hit by a car. He later died at a hospital.
It was a dark and foggy morning. There were no street lights.
Within days of Jadin’s death, Duke Energy installed the light at the bus stop.
“We want to make sure that our children are safe when they’re going to school,” said James Slaton, Lake Wales City Manager.
Now, the city is coordinating with Polk County Public Schools and Lake Wales Charter Schools to locate every bus stop in the city and make sure they are well-lit.
“The second thing we have to do is then go assess every one of those bus stops and then the third piece is to coordinate with Duke Energy to determine what construction is gonna be required to install new streetlights,” said Slaton.
“We are working with the City of Lake Wales and providing information about all of our bus stop locations so they can be evaluated for safety concerns. We welcome additional lighting or any other improvements by the city that will help increase safety for the children who ride our buses,” wrote Kyle Kennedy, spokesperson for Polk County Public Schools, in a statement.
Lake Wales is in the process of transitioning all of its street lights to LED lights for efficiency and safety reasons.
“When we put the bench in place, we’re going to have written in the bench in memory of him,” said Roy Leath, a community member.
Leath said he is working with Galindo’s family and nearby property owners to provide a bench for children to sit on while they wait for the bus in the morning.
“These kids have been sitting on the ground for at least a couple of years. It’s a shame that you have to go through this kind of a tragedy to get it done. That’s a heck of a price to pay for a light and a bench,” said Leath.
“Pedestrian safety is absolutely critical. In the northwest neighborhood, we’ve got area schools and parks and an insufficient level of walkways,” said Slaton.
The city’s pedestrian improvement project aims to repair and rehabilitate existing sidewalks as well as build new sidewalks.