Victims of St. Francis pedestrian crash recover as their parents call for changes

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Known to do just about everything together, two eighth grade friends from St. Francis continue to show improvements after being hit by a car outside of their school earlier this week.

Friday, their parents thanked some good Samaritans credited with saving their lives along with the first responders and doctors. The doctors say the girls have long roads to recovery.  

The girls are recovering at HCMC and now their parents are now pushing for change at a dangerous intersection.

It’s nowhere near the Thanksgiving weekend these families expected, but they are filled with lots of hope.

“It’s horrible seeing your child laying in a hospital bed,” said Jill Kelley, Kaia Bollman’s mom. “You can't fix it. You can't just make it better.”

While 14-year-old Annie LaMotte recovers after surgery to repair her broken pelvis, femur and road rash, and starts her physical therapy, Kaia Bollman remains heavily sedated on a ventilator with doctors more concerned about her head injury than her broken bones.

Thanksgiving evening, Bollman briefly opened her eyes for the first time.

“We are hoping for the best and hoping she will wake up,” said Kelley. “She’s shown signs she knows we are there. She’s been squeezing fingers and blinking her eyelids. That gives me hope.”

These two best friends were in the crosswalk Tuesday evening at Highway 47 and Pedersen Drive on their way to show choir practice at their middle school when a 62-year-old driver hit them.

“She remembers hearing him saying, ‘I didn’t see them. I didn’t see them,’” said Lisa LaMotte, Annie’s mom.

“I honestly believe it truly was just an accident,” added Chris LaMotte, Annie’s Dad.

Flashing lights added to the intersection in recent years were on, but this spot next to the middle school has been a worrisome spot for years.

Well before the accident, the city of St. Francis applied for a highway safety improvement program grant through MnDOT for a stop light, but the mayor doesn't expect a decision until at least the first of the year.

With 16 crashes at this intersection in last 11 years, and now one more, these parents believe a traffic light isn't enough. They want a walking bridge across the roadway instead.

“People still blow lights. They still run them. Distracted or impaired… it's not an answer for me, not a good enough one. I don't want any parent go through this,” said LaMotte.

A petition aiming for safety changes that intersection has more than 8,000 signatures and these families want as many people as possible to sign it.