Aldine Assistant Superintendent Ken Knippel

Torres death prompts review by Aldine ISD and Pct. 2

ALDINE – Hundreds of students, parents, and the public met at MacArthur High School last Thursday night, to hear the school districts plans for improving the safety for students along Aldine Mail Route. The meeting was prompted by the tragic death of Jose Torres, a senior hit by a truck while attempting to cross the street in front of the high school.

Torres death on Wednesday, Oct. 26 followed a similar fatal accident two days before of an adult attempting to cross a few blocks to the east.

The meeting was opened by Superintendent Wanda Bamberg, and then a slide presentation and report was made by Assistant Superintendent Ken Knippel.

The report focused on what had been accomplished in the last two weeks by the district and Precinct 2, who has responsibility for traffic regulations on the street. Also discussed were studies being conducted by these parties for further safety improvements in the future. Knppel pointed out that a number of agencies were involved in trying to solve the safety issues. These include State Rep. Armando Walle, METRO, CenterPoint Energy, East Aldine District, Sheriff’s department, Aldine Police department, and Aldine school district leadership.

Knippel said that the approach to improving safety included better crosswalks, street lighting, signage, traffic beacons or school zone lights, and extended school zone hours.

Aldine school district has also accomplished the following: trimmed large trees to enhance lighting, provided additional police officers at traffic times, enforced right turn exiting MacArthur, considered crossing guards, added a beacon check weekly, communicated with all involved about pedestrian and car safety in school zones.

A new traffic light and crosswalk is planned at Determined, Knippel said.

The audience interruped a number of times, exhibiting an impatience in plans rather than implementation. They suggested adding a bridge over the street, traffic bumps, police enforcing student crossing, and not expecting the student to police themselves.

Armando Walle, who personally came upon the fatal Torres accident scene that morning, spoke also about the need for families to change the behavior of the students. But he vowed to continue to help until the situation was improved. Knippel echoed this sentiment, suggesting that the students could be the “change agent” for improved awareness and behavior.

One student, a girl wearing a #AllforJose shirt, made an emotional statement about missing her fellow student, and thought the district should state an appology for allowing the death to happen.

Many in the audience felt that if students would arrive early, and school hours were extended, that this would help the situation.

Superintendent Bamberg promised that the district will continue to work on solving the safety issues, and have another meeting to report in January.