RICHMOND, Va (WRIC) – Aajah Rosemond was walking to the store on Jahnke Road when she was hit and killed by a car in October.
Now, families of those who have died in pedestrian crashes like Rosemond’s are honoring them and asking for harsher consequences in traffic deaths.
Monday, dozens of people gathered at Thomas C. Boushall Middle School asking for justice and harsher consequences for those who are involved in traffic deaths. They planted a tree in honor of Rosemond.
“Slow down. Slow down. Please, please. I can’t say it enough,” Rosemond’s grandmother, Yesmine Bethea asked the crowd at the ceremony Monday.
Rosemond’s mother, Khrystal Bethea, said Monday would’ve been Rosemond’s 17th birthday.
“It’s hard. I’m more emotional about what we should’ve been doing today than what we’re doing right now,” Bethea said.
Rosemond was walking around the corner to a store on Jahnke Road in October when a GMC Yukon traveling west on the road tried to make a left turn, when it collided with a Nissan Titan traveling east.
The collision caused the Nissan Titan to spin through the intersection, striking Rosemond.
Rosemond’s grandmother said the medical examiner told the family that Rosemond’s neck was broken.
She said only one driver in the collision got a traffic ticket and had to pay a $200 fine. Bethea said she doesn’t feel her family got justice for Rosemond.
In that same year, 2020, Brantley Tyndall with Richmond Families for Safe Streets says nine pedestrians in total were killed in Richmond, the second highest number he’s seen on record.
“Unfortunately, this tragedy happens to more people than you might expect,” he told the crowd.
Laura Pho also lost her mother, Lucy Le, in a pedestrian crash over the summer.
“I see the pain in her family, Aajah’s family. As people were making remarks and I just want to say, I grieve with you,” she said, holding back tears.
Tyndall said speed is the culprit behind why pedestrian fatalities in Richmond increased by 39% in 2020.
“It’s a real tragedy and every one of these people is a person. It’s not a statistic,” he said.
Tyndall said automated speed enforcement could help and he looks forward to Richmond implementing a new law that would make the speed limit 15 miles per hour in areas like neighborhoods.