Frankfort police determined that the woman who struck and killed 6-year-old Charlie Semones while riding his bike on Excel Court could not have avoided the collision, a report says.
The accident reconstruction report released Tuesday says speed, cell phone use and intoxication were not factors in the April 14 accident.
The driver, Pamela Smith, 60, could not have avoided the accident, the report concludes.
Smith told police she was driving 15-25 mph and did not see anyone in the roadway as she turned onto Excel Court to pick up her daughter and grandchild. She said she saw a blur in front of her maroon Jeep Liberty before the collision.
After realizing she struck Semones, Smith parked her SUV at her daughter’s home nearby and shouted for someone to call 911 before collapsing in the street, the report says.
Police gave Smith a Breathalyzer and took blood and urine tests at the hospital, but found no drugs or alcohol in her system. Cell phone records show she was not talking or text messaging on her phone at the time of the accident.
Police could not find anyone who witnessed the incident.
Semones’ father, David Semones, told police his son had just learned to ride his bicycle without training wheels and had been proudly demonstrating what he could do on the day of the accident.
Semones said he was watching his son ride when he stepped inside for no more than three minutes to use the restroom. His son’s friends beat at the door and told him about the accident, he told police.
Semones attempted CPR before paramedics arrived and took Charlie Semones to Frankfort Regional Medical Center, where he was later pronounced dead.
The accident, and others, has raised the issue of speed limits in residential areas. Per city ordinance, if a speed limit is not posted, the default limit is 35 mph.
Excel Court and other residential areas don’t have posted speed limits, but the default limit will likely be reduced to 25 mph this month as the City Commission considers changing the ordinance at its Aug. 27 meeting.
Frankfort Police Chief Walter Wilhoite said at a May commission work session that reducing the speed limit in residential areas should make streets safer for pedestrians.
“I think it will address most of the issues that were brought up over the last few weeks,” Wilhoite said at the work session.
The officer in charge of the accident reconstruction report, Thomas Schmidt, also recommended the speed reduction in an email to Wilhoite three days after the fatal collision.
He noted that some officers have enforced Centennial Avenue, another street without a posted speed limit, as a 25 mph zone when running radar. Some residents, he said, also believed unmarked streets had a 25 mph speed limit.
“I urge this change before speed is an issue in a fatality collision,” Schmidt wrote in the email, which was provided with the report.
“This will not prevent all from disobeying the speed limit but it will cut down on the number of speed-related incidents in this city as most citizens are law abiding.”
Since his untimely death, Charlie Semones has had playground equipment and a bench placed at the Early Learning Village in his honor, and Frankfort Regional Medical Center hosted a children’s bicycle safety course, called “Charlie’s Challenge,” during Kids Safety Day in late July.
Free helmets with “Charlie’s Challenge” printed on them were handed out by Semones’ mother, Michelle Semones, who said the community’s support since her son’s death has left her “astounded.”
“This child has touched a lot of people and people I would never have even imagined that have been touched,” she said at the event.