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'I was not surprised': South Grand leaders push for traffic enforcement after deadly hit and run

A driver ran a red light Friday night, hitting and killing a person in the crosswalk before leaving the scene.

ST. LOUIS — Nearly three days later, St. Louis police still don't have answers about a deadly hit and run on South Grand.

Investigators haven't released the victim's name or the driver's. But neighbors along that stretch of South Grand say they do know one thing for sure: it was only a matter of time.  

"I was not surprised that it happened," South Grand Community Improvement District Executive Director Rachel Witt said.

Witnesses told 5 On Your Side that an SUV went through the red light at S. Grand & Juanita "way too fast," hit a pedestrian in the crosswalk and left the scene after 9 p.m. Friday.

Witt said she's been fighting for years for more traffic enforcement.

"As the Executive Director of a taxing district, I feel like I am failing my property and business owners to keep those who live, work, and play here safe because the city's priorities are not focused on enforcement right now with the way that people are driving," she said.

According to South Grand CID members, they've seen 370 accidents on the stretch between Tower Grove East and Tower Grove South in just six months.

"We have racked over $70,000 in damages. Nine times out of 10... no car insurance, no driver's license, or expired temp tags," she said.

Witt said she would like to see funding allocated to help people pay for those items and enforcement for people who commit moving violations.

The traffic problems are not unique to South Grand with serious hit-and-runs along Manchester in the Grove

And Crown Candy owner Andy Karandzieff regularly posts his own videos of people blowing through stop signs outside his North City business.

"Our strategy really has been to look at statistics, look at our high accident locations and put our enforcement efforts there around speeding, reckless driving, running start signs," St. Louis Public Safety Director Dan Isom said.

Witt said she's asked for increased patrols and red light cameras which largely came down after a 2015 state supreme court ruling that prohibited groups from collecting fines based on a photo of a license plate alone, instead requiring identifiable photos of drivers too.

"I don’t think that is going to come anytime in the future so we have to use what we have in terms of resources to try to ease the problems that they are having on Grand," Isom said.

Isom and Witt say the neighborhood and city leaders met virtually Friday just hours before the accident with another in the works. Their first meeting focused largely on the area's unhoused population, and Witt said it's clear what they will discuss next time.

"It's a hard topic to solve and to address, but something needs to happen," she said.

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