MULBERRY, Fla. (WFLA) – Bethanie Berger knows all about zombies.
They are not the “undead” kind. They are the “eyes on the cell phone” kind.
She lives close to Mulberry Middle School.
“I see kids in hoodies with their heads all covered up looking at their cell phones,” she said. “I just don’t see how kids can get where they’re going.”
The children walk home from school over railroad tracks and across a busy State Road 60.
“It scares me at the railroad track, especially because most of the kids or several of the kids go across and they live across the street. Crossing that road, I don’t know how they do it,” she said.
On Friday, the City of Mulberry installed a “Beware of Smartphone Zombies” sign near Berger’s home.
“I didn’t know they were putting the sign up. I like it. I think it’s a great idea. I hope they put them in more places,” she said.
“We have some more on order. They should be here possibly next week,” said Mulberry City Manager Rick Johnson.
Johnson and the city have already installed about a dozen signs near Mulberry schools and libraries.
Johnson likes signs. He’s had inspirational signs installed over the years, including some that said “Only positive signs beyond this point.”
Johnson got the idea for the zombie signs after seeing a meme on social media.
“I think we’ve all probably had our close call somewhere along the line where people are walking, whether it’s in a parking lot in a grocery store or whatever. Theyr’e just kind of walking along not paying to what they’re doing necessarily. I know I’m probably guilty of it too,” he said.
Like Berger, Johnson worries about busy state roads and train tracks nearby.
This week, a 13-year old boy died after being hit by an Amtrak train on his way home from school in Avon Park.
According to the Highlands County Sheriff’s Office, the boy’s phone was in his pocket, he had his hoodie up and may have had headphones in his ears.
“We’re hoping that this will get somebody’s attention. If it could maybe save one kid’s pain or suffering, that’ll be worth it,” said Johnson.
Johnson plans to buy 10 to 12 more signs. They cost roughly $30-$35 each.