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Montana community shaken by fatal pedestrian accident

A 16-year-old boy and his friend were walking along an unlit road in unincorporated Lockwood when a 71-year-old man in a pickup truck approached them from behind. The truck hit the teen who was nearest to the road. He later died of his injuries.

The friends were reportedly wearing dark clothing and walking with the flow of traffic, which is not advisable, but the pedestrian accident has community members upset with officials about the safety of roadways in the area. At a meeting with Yellowstone County officials, Lockwood residents spoke out about the undue dangers pedestrians and cyclists face.

In particular, high speed limits, too few sidewalks and too few streetlights make Lockwood unreasonably dangerous for pedestrians, according to residents. One man told officials that he was afraid to ride his bike on a certain road, and that he was "astounded" that the streets in Lockwood, which has roughly 8,000 residents, are as dangerous as they are.

A major concern for Yellowstone County commissioners is that Lockwood isn't incorporated, so funding for road improvement projects can be tricky.

Still, the recent death of a teenager has locals reconsidering the possibility of safety improvements in the area. New taxing and redistricting alternatives have been discussed in the past, with the goal of building sidewalks and installing streetlights, but it remains to be seen what measures will be taken.

What is certain is that a young person has died too soon. The accident is reportedly still under investigation, and the family of the deceased is no doubt looking for answers.

Source: Billings Gazette, "County explores ways to improve pedestrian, traffic safety in Lockwood," Jan. 15, 2013

Source: KTVQ.com, "UPDATE: Boy struck in Thursday night accident dies," Jan. 5, 2013

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