Family, neighbors demanding safety improvements after hit-and-run in Lakeland

Polk County

Deputies in Polk County are still looking for the driver of an SUV who hit a teenager on her way to school.

In the wake of the tragedy, her parents are calling for changes on the Lakeland street where it happened.

“I’m dumbfounded on how you still haven’t come forward,” said the victim’s mother, Suzette Miller.

It happened around 6:30 a.m. Tuesday morning as 17-year old Elani Miller walked to her bus stop along Swindell Road.

The teen was hit by an SUV and the driver took off, leaving her in a ditch. 

“They just left her there to die as far as I’m concerned,” Miller said.

Elani is in the hospital with two broken legs and a broken hand.

Her mother is demanding action to make the road safer.

“There is no sidewalk there for these children,” said Miller.

She said she contacted officials with the school long before the crash nearly took her daughter’s life.

Miller told News Channel 8 she called again after.

“They said they had to vote on it, and as far as the streetlights, they also told me they have to vote on that as well. I told them how many lives is it going to take for them to make a decision?”

“Very deep ditches, very muddy, high grass. It’s definitely not somewhere where you want your kids walking,” said neighbor Stuart Rutherford.

For years, Rutherford has mowed the grass to try to make it a little safer.

After this tragedy, he took matters into his own hands and started a fund to raise money for a sidewalk.

“No one should be unsafe going to school,” Rutherford said.

County officials say the road is now on their radar.

Director of Roads and Drainage, Jay Jarvis said private funding would help.

“We would move forward with the project,” he said.

Jarvis said the project could be quite costly.

Elani’s mother is determined to make sure it doesn’t happen again. 

“It should be a number one priority. No parent should feel what i feel,” she said.

To donate to the fund for sidewalks click here.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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