“How did he hit four people if his lights were on? How did you hit her? She’s gone…” Lendria Vernon asks as she breaks down in tears.
Lendria’s aunt, Monica Alvarez, died when a Lincoln Town Car hit the pregnant mother killing both of them Wednesday evening.
Monica Alvarez was walking down 43rd Street near Hillsborough Avenue with her 1 year-old daughter Imani Golden, her friend Lala Little, and Little’s daughter. The car hit all four, leaving little Imani clinging to life, and Lala still stunned at what happened.
“The next thing we know there was a car coming full speed at me and Monica,” Lala said. “So, we tried to push our babies out of the way, and we still ended up getting hit.”
That’s something many feel never should’ve happened, because 5 months ago, a complaint from a neighbor brought a city inspector out to this very spot on 43rd.
The neighbor, Karen Peoples, wanted sidewalks and street lights installed. However, the inspector visited the area during the day, before noon, and wrote: “visited the site and found light already on location and insufficient right-of-way to build sidewalk.”
To that, Monica Alvarez’s sister responded, “There is no light. Where is it?”
Had the city conducted their inspection at nighttime instead of in the middle of the day, they would’ve seen what 10 News saw: an area with no street lights. The only light comes from passing cars.
“Y’all don’t even want to put sidewalks out here? Kids walk up and down here. They got to go to school. There’s no lights. There’s clearly no lights. You can’t see nothing!” Lendria said.
10 News asked Alvarez’s sister, Nicole Walker, “When you see this, when you see months ago that the city had warning, had someone out here saying you need to do something about this, and months later they didn’t do anything… what do you say to that?” Walker fired back, “I’m going for them. I won’t let it rest. I’m going to do something about it, and the city will be in trouble.”
Tampa officials told 10 News the city would’ve had to buy land to have enough room to build a sidewalk. Public Works also says the inspector simply “reported the facts” when looking for light in the area.
If changes do come to the stretch of 43rd Street, Public Works officials say it will be after Tampa Police finish their investigation and release a final report.