POLK COUNTY, Fla. — A longtime Lake Wales city commissioner will ask city staff to address safety in the neighborhood where a teenager was hit by a truck while waiting for his school bus.
According to the Lake Wales Police Department, 13-year-old Jadin Galindo was sitting in an alley near the intersection of Dr. J.A. Wiltshire Avenue and Miami Street when he was hit around 6:15 a.m.
According to Deputy Chief Dave Black, officers don’t believe the driver was speeding or impaired and say, by every indication, no one is to blame for the tragedy.
Officers will, however, examine the lighting in the area where the accident happened, which is located behind the Florida’s Natural orange juice plant.
Elvis Galindo, the teen's uncle, believes lighting played a factor in the tragedy, which happened before dawn. He hopes positive changes will be made to prevent future tragedies.
Lake Wales City Commissioner Terrye Howell, who lives in the area, also thinks lighting is an issue.
“A lot of people have said there’s not enough light,” said Howell. “What do I think? I think that when we all talk about this now because of this tragedy, I think something will be done.”
Howell believes something can be done, whether it’s adding speed bumps, more signs, or more lights. The commission is set to meet next Tuesday, and Howell wants Lake Wales’ mayor to add the topic to the agenda so commissioners can discuss possibilities.
“The mayor can, but if he does not put it on the agenda during my comments, I will have it open to discussion. I will have it because this is nothing that we should just turn our heads or say it’s not my fault,” she said. “I know we can’t have lights on every corner and every five feet. I know that, but in some places, we need a light.”
A spokesperson for the mayor would not yet comment on the need for or the status of any possible safety changes since the official investigation is still ongoing.
Deputy Chief Black said he could not say if lighting was a factor in the accident or if additional lighting would have prevented the tragedy, but he acknowledged that the area is very dark when the sun is down.
The addition of any lighting would require coordination with partners like Duke Energy, he said.
“It’s not just as easy as us saying there needs to be a light there,” Black said.