Councilors Outline Steps to Avoid Another Traffic Death; Takes Moment of Silence for Rankin

Suzanne Xydias told city councilors she is “haunted” by the death of the 17-year-old student killed at the intersection of Liberty and Crystal streets. (WHAV News photograph.)

In light of last week’s traffic death of 17-year-old Haverhill High School senior Jordan Rankin, city councilors Tuesday night outlined steps the city must take to avoid another tragedy.

Councilors voted unanimously to direct the administration to conduct a traffic study and immediately make various improvements at the intersection of Liberty and Crystal streets. Neighbors pleaded for quick action. One was Suzanne Xydias, a Crystal Street resident who lives 50 yards from the crash site.

“I’m haunted by this tragedy. I have to pass by the accident site multiple times every day when I’m traveling,” she said.

She said she has two school-age children and added past efforts to address safety, such as placing a “Slow—Children” sign and street lighting “hasn’t made much of a difference.” Xydias told councilors she went to the crash scene Saturday morning to say a prayer and met Rankin’s father there.

Mark Roope pitched several ideas to city councilors about improving safety at the intersection. (WHAV News photograph.)

Mark Roope, who has been in neighborhood since 1995, detailed various improvements he recommended be made at the intersection. “That intersection is a free for all—rolling stops, outright going through, obviously marked violations right there—forget about the speeding.”

One idea—placing radar equipment tied to photograph-taking and video recording apparatus—may require state approval. Roope said he has already spoken with state Rep. Andy X. Vargas, who agreed to sponsor any necessary legislation.

Council President John A. Michitson and Councilor Joseph J. Bevilacqua placed the matter on the agenda. In the end, incorporating suggestions they heard from neighbors, Bevilacqua outlined next traffic and safety steps.

“That we have better streetlights to improve visibility; that we look at a blinking stop sign, which you see at the Main Street exit, for example; that we have an advanced stop sign before the actual stop sign which is a sign telling you there is a stop approaching; that we have pavement markings, which actually is the legal requirement for a stop sign; that we cut back the brush for site visibility distances; and that we reduce the speed,” Bevilacqua said in his motion, seconded by Michitson.

Earlier Tuesday, the council’s Traffic and Safety Committee met and reached many of the same conclusions, Councilor Melinda E. Barrett said. She added many recommendations—such as cutting back brush to improve visibility—will be implemented at intersections across the city.

At the request of Councilor William J. Macek, members took a moment of silence in Rankin’s memory just before the vote.

Haverhill Police told WHAV Tuesday night the accident is still under investigation.