Neighbors plead for sidewalk after fatal crash

Posted at 8:57 PM, Apr 26, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-27 06:23:41-04

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Neighbors in a Port Charlotte community were asking the county for sidewalks Tuesday after a mother was killed and her 5-month-old baby injured in a tragic crash.

The incident happened at around 7 a.m., Friday, when 35-year old Mariah Klinefelter was strolling her baby along the shoulder of Appleton Boulevard near Bay State Drive. Klinefelter was visiting from Pittsburgh.  That's when an SUV pushed her and the baby into the grass. "I looked down around the car and they were still doing CPR on the lady," said Peter Watson, who saw the aftermath. 

Residents in the area said the accident could have been avoided if there were sidewalks. "You're weaving your way down that road, avoiding cyclists, pedestrians, people walking dogs, it's just a ridiculous situation," said Watson. 

A memorial grew by the site of the crash. Neighbors said Klinefelter and her family were members of the local country club. "I cried. I'm still having a hard time with it," said Pam Curtis, a resident. "It impacted my great grandchildren that live with me in South Gulf Cove so much that they asked to go to the site, lay flowers, place a teddy bear, and to say a prayer for the family."

Fox 4 took the neighbors concerns to the Charlotte County Commission, who told us the installation of sidewalks is possible for the neighborhood if residents request it. ""They do have a sidewalk expansion program already in that area and if they'd like to expand the area to certain streets that's perfectly doable," said Tricia Duffy, of the Charlotte County Commission. "These are big projects. Side walks can be very expensive too, you'd be surprised. So we'd have to see where the sidewalks are currently being installed and how hard it would be to make adjustments."

The project that spans 3.5 miles would cost the county $1.4 million.

The crash is still under investigation and the driver has not been charged at this time.

Klinefelter's child has been released from a hospital in St. Petersburg and will return to Pennsylvania with family, according to a neighborhood Facebook group.