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Jewish community bands together for pedestrian safety

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Updated: 9/17/2013 7:33 pm
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Rabbi Yaakov Fisch met with state leaders to discuss ways to improve crosswalk signals after a crash killed a member of his congregation.

Fisch still remembers receiving the news that 57-year-old Esther Ohayon had died while on her way to Yom Kippur services last Friday.

"After the service ended, people were just hysterical," said Fisch.

Fisch said there have been too many close calls for members of his synagogue who cross busy San Jose Boulevard every weekend.

Ohayon's death is a painful reminder that changes have to be made and soon. Fisch has already begun conversations with local leaders to start a new plan for pedestrian safety.

One of those leaders is District 16 State Rep. Charles McBurney.

"I think something can definitely be done to make it safer," said McBurney.

According to Fisch, the ideal solution would be to build a pedestrian overpass, a proposal they've made to the Florida Department of Transportation in the past.

"That is something I raised with the Department of Transportation today. They told me they would assess the possibility of that," said Fisch.

If building the walkover can't happen, Fisch wants to at least see an investigation into the timers set to crosswalk signals, a plan McBurney is helping explore.

"How long is this going to work, how long will they be able to keep a red light on San Jose. That looks to me, again I'm not an engineer, that it might be a simple fix," said McBurney.

Fisch is confident Ohayon's death won't be in vain.

"It's excruciating and painful to think that it takes a death of a wonderful person for us to act. We as a society have to look around us and make sure we take as many precautionary measures as we can so it doesn't take a tragedy for us to act," said Fisch.

Fisch, Rep. McBurney, and a Florida Department of Transportation representative will meet at the end of the month to discuss the next step.
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