Clayton County Police say they are desperate for the public’s help in tracking down a hit-and-run driver who killed a 7-year-old girl early Sunday morning in Jonesboro.
Sometime between 2:15 a.m. and 2:30 a.m., police say, the child was hit on Tara Boulevard near Southside Industrial. Police found the girl dead on the northbound side by The Shops on Tara. The area is near some extended-stay motels, a McDonalds, and a Shell gas station.
According to WSB, “Investigators said officers showed up at the Magnolia Bay Hotel and Suites, which is near the scene. Channel 2′s Bryan Mims said the mom and child were staying at the hotel but the mother declined to speak with anyone.”
“At this time, we have no leads in reference to this accident,” CCPD Public Information Officer Sgt. Julia Isaac said in a press release. “We are desperately asking for the public’s assistance. If you were traveling on Tara Boulevard around that time, you may not have realized you hit someone. We are urging you to give us a call if you remember any details while you were traveling in that area.”
The Clayton Crescent retraced the line-of-sight path of the spot where the girl was hit from across Tara Boulevard. It appeared to lead directly to a cut through bushes and trees, next to the MARTA bus stop on the northbound side. That path leads to the Motel 6 parking lot and behind The Shops on Tara.
However, police have not said whether they know which direction the girl was traveling in when she was hit, or whether they know if she had tried to cross the road at all. On Sunday, CCPD sent this e-mail reply to our request for more details: “Due to the sensitive nature of this incident we are limited on the information released.”
Tara Boulevard has no continuous sidewalk and, in some places, no sidewalk at all, on either side of this busy U.S. highway. Marked crosswalks are limited and most pedestrians simply cross at the middle of the block and cut across the grassy median, often in the path of speeding vehicles. It’s difficult for an adult, much less a child, to time the crossing correctly.
Our office is a few blocks away from this location and The Clayton Crescent regularly sees people crossing in the middle of the block to and from a local Citgo convenience store on the southbound side near the Arrowhead on the Flint subdivision. The store’s owner said he closes at midnight.
On the northbound side, a McDonalds with a 24-hour drive-thru and a Shell station convenience store are open late at Tara Boulevard and Mt Zion. Those businesses are on the same side of Tara Boulevard where the girl was hit.
These convenience stores and fast-food restaurants serve local residents of the Motel 6, the Magnolia Bay Hotel and Suites, and other motels along Tara Boulevard. Also nearby are the Georgetown Commons townhomes, Arrowhead on the Flint, and other residential communities along Tara Boulevard. Many families live in the area, whose traffic pattern and pedestrian, wheelchair, and cyclist accommodations are anything but family-friendly.
This heavily-used unofficial crossing was not part of that study.
According to the Georgia Department of Transportation, eight people died and 17 were seriously injured between I-75 and Flint River Road on Tara Boulevard between 2011 and 2015. (More than 30 people, both pedestrians and drivers, died on Tara Boulevard in the first half of last year alone.)
The average distance between Tara Boulevard’s marked crossings in the study was 2,839 feet. That’s an average of more than half a mile between crosswalks.
The same study also noted GDOT District 7 focus corridors, including Old Dixie Road, which is part of U.S. 19. At the time, GDOT noted 4 fatalities and 3 serious injuries between Tara Boulevard and Hilltop Drive. That stretch of highway includes several motels and single-family homes, as well as gas stations with convenience stores.
Robin Kemp is executive editor and CEO of The Clayton Crescent, which she founded in 2020. She has worked for Gambit, CNN, The Weather Channel, Clayton News, Henry Herald, and numerous freelance outlets....
More by Robin Kemp