La Porte County student gaining momentum to improve intersection

Published: Dec. 11, 2019 at 5:04 PM EST
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Elle Kimmel isn't your average 16-year-old. She's a three-sport athlete, member of the National Honor Society and a model student with a high GPA at South Central Junior-Senior High School in La Porte County.

Now, she's trying to improve safety in her community after her father was killed at a dangerous intersection in 2007.

"I would never want anyone to go through the same experience that my family and I went through,” Kimmel said.

"I knew her family had been impacted by a tragedy several years ago and traveling that intersection, it hit home, you know? What she says is valid, and I agree with her that something needs to be done there," South Central Principal Ben Anderson said.

The cross in memory of Richard Kimmel still sits at 600W and U.S. 30 in La Porte County, as cars continue to speed by. The speeding is the problem for Kimmel.

On Wednesday, she gave a speech in class on the topic, hoping not only for a good grade but to grab the attention of lawmakers as well.

She wants improved safety at the intersection, letting all in attendance for her speech know why she is so passionate about the topic.

"My father, Richard Kimmel, was on his way to work when at the intersection of U.S. 30 and South 600 West,” Kimmel told her class. “He was hit by a semitruck and killed instantly."

It’s from the pain of this memory she spoke on Wednesday, asking for better safety measures at the intersection.

Currently, there is only a single streetlight and two suggested speed limit signs.

"Anything to slow down traffic, but mostly maybe like rumble strips,” Kimmel recommended. "Distracted drivers or tired drivers to warn them that a dangerous intersection is approaching and overhead light or stop light is, like, the ultimate goal.”

She also posted a petition to that now has more than 1,600 signatures. She's gaining momentum for better safety, and maybe even saving lives.

to review the petition.

One Indiana lawmaker was at her speech, learning more and supporting her initiative. He believes a 24-hour traffic study should be completed by the Indiana Department of Transportation to help justify the need for increased safety measures at the intersection.

"We are going to be doing a traffic study here, and that's my job. Elle has done a great job getting it to this point, and I look for her help in the future to continue to move this needle. So, my job is more to continue to put the pressure on INDOT," said Rep. Jim Pressel, R-District 20.

Kimmel says the deadly intersection is a danger to her classmates, and she is hoping that lawmakers are listening to help prevent another tragedy.

"At school, they'll be like, ‘Oh, 30 was crazy today,’ or just like they were scared to cross this morning. So, I just definitely want to change, to make it’s safer for everyone so that they don't have to worry anymore,” Kimmel said.

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