° empty

Residents: Slow it down

ROD GUAJARDO | The Natchez Democrat — A truck drives past the intersection of Morgantown Road and Booker Road Saturday afternoon. Residents of the Morgantown area are scared of drivers who speed on the roads and avoiding speed calming devices.

NATCHEZ — Morgantown residents have a request for drivers in their area — don’t get in such a hurry that you end up killing one of our children.

Resident Anna Latil said she’s used to seeing speeders. Neither speed bumps nor speed calming devices seem to deter them.

“I have a speed bump on my road itself, and they still speed through here,” she said. “They will bottom out their cars, but it still doesn’t stop them.”

The tipping point came for Latil last week as she waited for her child to get off the school bus. As the bus stopped, a driver who didn’t want to brake for the bus whipped around it, nearly striking a child.

One child was actually hit by a car in the area last year, she said.

“I am sitting at the bus stop all the time, and I see speeding 70 miles an hour on that strip of Morgantown Road,” Latil said. “It just sickens me. After that first car whipped around the school bus, the next car was going to do the same thing, but I yelled, ‘Have some respect, there are children getting off the bus.’”

Morgantown-area resident Mary Holmes said she, too, is concerned about the problem. She was a school bus driver for 24 years, and Holmes said she believes drivers should respect the school bus much more than they do.

“It is a residential area and they know that bus is running,” Holmes said. “Whether they have kids or not, they should still be concerned about children.”

A careless driver can alter a life forever — Holmes knows. She had a grandson who was struck by a car in the street in Natchez — killing him — several years ago.

“I don’t want anybody’s child to get run over,” she said. I would not want to witness that for anybody else.”

“If you are going to drive, you should pay attention to what is going on around you.”

Adams County Sheriff Chuck Mayfield said the problem of speeders not respecting the stop signs on school buses is not restricted to the Morgantown area — unfortunately, it is county-wide.

“Those signs come out before the bus comes to a complete stop, and people get in a hurry to pass the bus before they open the doors,” Mayfield said. “But you don’t know if one of those kids is coming from the blind side of the bus, and the kids aren’t going to be paying attention as much as an adult would.”

But the sheriff said his office has heard numerous complaints from the Morgantown area, and the sheriff’s office would be increasing its presence there — including with unmarked patrol vehicles — to ticket reckless drivers.

“It is a dangerous situation, and it is one we take extremely seriously,” he said.