ALBERT LEA, Minn. – It’s now been more than three months since an Albert Lea girl was killed after being hit by a car while riding her bike.
Since then, Sophie Stultz’s family and members of the community have spearheaded an effort to get stop signs at the intersection where she was hit. On Monday night, the City Council approved the first step.
It’s a day Bill Bliss of Albert Lea will never forget.
“I saw her coming down the street,” said Bliss. “I can’t even walk out in the front yard without it tearing me up.”
Bliss lives right in front of the intersection of Frank Hall Drive and Eighth Street. He was doing yard work when 8-year-old Sophie Stultz was hit.
Bliss says he helped pull her out from under the car.
“When it happened I couldn’t handle it,” said Bliss.
The council has voted to install temporary stop signs at the intersection for a six-month trial run.
“It’s just a precaution so when we do put them in we know we’re doing the right thing,” said City engineer Steve Jahnke.
If they see improvements, they will keep them there for good.
“We’re doing a six-month trail to really make sure those stop signs don’t cause problems in the area,” said Jahnke. “It doesn’t increase accidents or causes something to happen where people are going different routes and causing problems in other areas.”
There will be three stop signs at this intersection for drivers going northbound, southbound and eastbound. It’s to try to prevent a tragic accident from happening again.
“It’s the traffic going north and south here that is the culprit,” said Bliss.
Sophie’s mother, Sarah Stultz, has spearheaded the effort to install the stop signs. In a statement given to KIMT News 3, she says:
“Though I would have liked to have seen permanent stop signs approved for the intersection, I am pleased the council did not dismiss the idea altogether and instead is going to use the next six months as a trial period. I hope this is only the beginning of the conversation about safety in the Frank Hall Drive neighborhood. I and others plan to continue our efforts toward this cause and welcome the continued support of the community. If the signs save even one life, they will be worth it.”