Albert Lea mulls adding stop sign where cyclist died

Published 9:25 am Tuesday, July 12, 2016

ALBERT LEA — An Albert Lea city councilman wants city officials to consider implementing additional stop signs in the area where an 8-year-old Albert Lea girl was struck and killed earlier this month.

Sixth Ward Council member Al “Minnow” Brooks said at Monday’s City Council meeting that he would like staff to consider adding a stop sign at the intersection of Eighth Street and Frank Hall Drive, noting a three-way stop sign could also be addressed at the intersection of Fourth Street and Frank Hall Drive.

Sophie Stultz was struck and killed July 2 at the intersection after she collided with a vehicle while riding her bicycle.

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Prior to the crash, the 2003 Mercury Mountaineer driven by Stephen Laverne Kassa was reportedly heading south on Frank Hall Drive approaching Eighth Street. Sophie Stultz and another juvenile bicyclist were reportedly heading east on Eighth Street toward Frank Hall Drive.

The bicyclists reportedly rode in front of the vehicle while attempting to turn left onto Frank Hall Drive. The first bicyclist reportedly crossed the intersection before Sophie Stultz was struck. Kaasa reportedly did not see Sophie Stultz, and reportedly had the right-of-way at the intersection.

Brooks said there has been a safety problem at the intersection for a while. He said eastbound traffic is coming down a big hill and seeing pedestrians or vehicles traveling up and down the hill is hard for northbound and southbound traffic

“It’s been a problem for some time and it just took an unfortunate thing to really get this thing moving,” he said.

Frank Hall Drive resident Nick Ronnenberg said he wants slower traffic on the road and more sidewalk space in the area, noting he has seen families — including women and children — having to walk to Frank Hall Park on the street.

He said he believed Sophie Stultz would still be alive if a stop sign was in place at the intersection, noting he has expressed concern about the area before to officials.

Albert Lea Engineer Steven Jahnke said they will look at speeds, visibility and the number of accidents at the intersection, then determine whether there should be a stop sign based on a point system.

About Sam Wilmes

Sam Wilmes covers crime, courts and government for the Albert Lea Tribune.

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