HANCOCK COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - It took one deadly wreck and an outcry from parents to get the safety improvements they've suggested near East Hancock Elementary school.
Four new LED lights will be installed along Kiln-Delisle Road as soon as Thursday. The school district ordered the lights from Coast Electric this week.
The move comes less than a week after a mother was killed and two of her sons were injured crossing after leaving a school Christmas program. The family, like many others, parked in a lot at the horse arena across from the school.
The district maintenance manager Brian Williams told WLOX.com the district will lease the 400 watt lights from Coast Electric. Those lights will be installed on existing poles along Kiln Delisle Road.
The new lights will cost $35 per light per month. The total cost is less than $1,000 a year to operate.
The new lights come just as a Hancock County man introduced a plan to install more street lights outside East Hancock Elementary and light up an area that seems too dark to too many parents. That location is where a mother was hit and killed nearly one week ago.
Tim Willis was at the school when the accident happened. The East Hancock parent says additional lighting along Kiln-Delisle Road could have prevented the accident. "Any driver, driving down this road, if you don't see a danger, you can't respond to it. And at night time, it was pitch black out here, there were no lights at all," said Willis.
Willis drafted a letter to the Hancock County Board of Supervisors laying out a plan to install four streetlights to existing utility poles outside the school. The lights would be paid for with county funds.
As an electrical engineer himself, Willis says the idea would be inexpensive. "You're talking about adding four street lights, which shouldn't cost that much. I think it would go a long way to helping to prevent this from happening in the future," he said.
Other parents are on board with the idea of additional lighting.
"For as many events that actually happen here in the evening, the whole street needs to be lit. Especially when people have to cross the street for overflow parking and everything, it really is just way too dangerous," said parent Emily Schaepe.
The lights could have a special meaning. "I would like to see a light placed in the spot where Laurie passed away to memorialize her and just to remind drivers just to slow down, and that we have lost a life here," said parent Jennifer Tullier.
A life lost that gives Willis motivation to see his plan put in action, which also includes additional signage to develop a crosswalk for pedestrians. "I want this to be safe for my kids and for everybody else's kids."
WLOX News Now also reached out to the Hancock County Supervisor President Blaine LaFontaine. He says while they have not seen Willis' full plan, they are open to discuss any proposals to make the area safer, though he did mention lighting may not be the only answer.
Willis said he is hoping to present his idea during the board's January 2 meeting.