Friday, June 30, 2000

Neighbors decry traffic on street where boy died

By Jim Hannah
The Cincinnati Enquirer

FORT THOMAS - After a 10-year old boy was hit and killed while walking on Garrison Avenue Wednesday evening, residents near the narrow street were calling for changes to alleviate traffic there.

Stephen R. Schroder had crossed Garrison Avenue to catch up with some friends Wednesday just after 6 p.m. when a car hit him. He died at St. Luke Hospital East of head injuries.

No charges have been filed against the driver, Philip E. Bridges, 52, of Fort Thomas, but the investigation continues, authorities said Thursday.

Residents say motorists use their street as a shortcut to reach River Road and avoid a stoplight at South Fort Thomas Avenue.

"To shave off just a few seconds of travel time, drivers zoom down our street,'' said Joanna Barnett, 43, who lives two doors down from where the child was hit.

"There are about 22 kids on our street. It makes me feel very unsafe, fearful of our children's lives.''

Mr. Bridges was navigating his gray 1987 Cadillac sedan downhill on the one-way street when, police said, Stephen was crossing in the middle of the block. There is on-street parking on both sides of the road.

"There have been times when people have almost knocked my car door off as I stepped out,'' said 22-year-old Katie Kempe, a mother of three children.

"Speeding on our street has been a problem for a while.''

Some residents say they plan to ask the city to lower the current speed limit of 25 mph or put in speed bumps. "For years we have talked about getting speed bumps or something to slow people down,'' Ms. Barnett said. "Everyone here is all for speed bumps.''

This is the second pedestrian death on a Fort Thomas residential street in six months. Garrison is two streets from Brentwood Place, where Holy Cross High School teacher Susan Schlarman was killed on Dec. 26 by a neighbor who was driving drunk and speeding.

Jill Ott pleaded guilty to manslaughter. The Commonwealth Attorney has recommended Ms. Ott serve 10 years in prison.

Stephen would have entered the fifth grade this fall at Woodfill Elementary.

""He was the type of kid who would run over and hug school volunteers when they walked into the classroom,'' said Lee McGinley, spokeswoman for Fort Thomas Independent Schools.

Police Officer Mike Jansen had taught Stephen in an anti-drug class. "It is hard when you see one of your students injured,'' he said.

""He was a good kid (who) comes from a good family.''

Stephen was a member of the Bad Boys soccer team in the Northern Kentucky Soccer League.

He is survived by his mother, Kimberly Schroder-Jackson of Fort Thomas; his father, Larry Schroder of Madisonville, Ky.; stepfather Brady Jackson of Fort Thomas; stepmother Cecy Arriola of Madisonville, Ky.; two sisters, Ryanne and Ashley Schroder, both of Fort Thomas; two brothers, Michael Schroder and B.J. Jackson of Fort Thomas; and grandparents.

Visitation will be from 5 to 8 p.m. Sunday at Muehlenkamp-Erschell Funeral Home, 427 S. Fort Thomas Ave. Mass of Christian burial will be at 10 a.m. Monday at St. Catherine of Siena Church, 1803 N. Fort Thomas Ave. Burial will follow at St. Stephen Cemetery in Fort Thomas.

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