DELAND, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35) - Four temporary lights have been placed at a deadly intersection in Volusia County, where a grandmother and three young children were killed in a crash this month. Traffic engineers hope to prevent another tragedy at Grand Avenue and State Road 44, just east of DeLand.
The swing sets are empty next to Albert Schumacker’s house. His granddaughters, Aryana and Jadyn Thomas used to make this yard their playground. "They were absolutely beautiful. They loved everything," Schumacher said. "They were happy. They had no hate. That’s the way I want everyone to remember them."
Schumacker misses their personalities, their smiles and their laughter. He feels a little relief knowing that the temporary lights are now up and running, where his family members died. Earlier this month, Sandy Lopes, her two granddaughters and one of their cousins died in a fiery crash. The Florida Highway Patrol says Lopes’ Jeep collided with a Ford Explorer which was crossing SR 44.
"I’m sad that it had to take my granddaughters’ deaths to make that difference," Schumacher added. "Hopefully non one else will have to pay this price."
The speed limit here has been lowered from 55 miles per hour, down to 45. People who live nearby have been pushing for years for a traffic light or something to slow down drivers here. FHP says there was another fatal wreck at the same intersection in 2013.
Schumacher hopes county leaders will take action to make dangerous intersections safer across Volusia County. "Check every intersection they can that they have a problem with, and if there’s the funds for it, take care of it. Don’t wait for a crisis to happen."
The Florida Department of Transportation plans to build a roundabout at the intersection to slow traffic down, but it could take ten months to complete that project.