Road safety

Oak Ridge community discusses road safety after teen’s death on Halloween

OAK RIDGE, NC (WGHP) – The Oak Ridge City Council discussed traffic safety Thursday night after a teenage girl was killed on Haw River Road on Halloween.

This is the same road where another child was killed during a Halloween event in 2019.

At their monthly meeting, council members expressed their condolences to his family and how they are working to prevent another tragedy.

Oak Ridge Mayor Ann Schneider shared since Monday night’s crash, she has received several suggestions on how to make Haw River Road safer. She knows that there is no single solution.

During the town council meeting, she heard members of the community share their thoughts and ideas. One thing many people want to see is more lights along this dark stretch of road.

“I would like to highlight a darker event, the heartbreaking death of 14-year-old Aliyah Thornhill,” Mayor Schneider said to open Thursday night’s meeting.

It began with a moment of silence in honor of Aliyah Thornhill, who was beaten and killed on Halloween night on Haw River Road.

Brooke Tilley lost her 11-year-old son, Noah Chambers, on the same road three years ago. She attended the meeting with Noah’s brother and she used her three minutes during the public comment period to discuss the changes she wants to see.

“In that case, number one, I’d like to see the lights come on,” Tilley said. “I have to say it’s one of the biggest for me.”

Tilley works with a soldier who was at the scene the night Noah died. They are considering solutions like adding stop signs and sidewalks and reducing the speed limit from 45 to 35.

“I think any change and improvement is hard work,” she said.

Three other people echoed Tilley’s concerns and called on the city council to remember their demands.

“Remember,” said one commenter. “Make it a priority to put lights, stop signs, speed bumps and awareness in this area in honor of Noah and Aliyah.”

Other ideas included adding crosswalks with flashing lights and restricting access to 18-wheelers.

“It’s only a matter of time before one of these trucks hits someone head-on,” said Danny O’Connor, HOA Vice President of Arbor Run. “I hope that doesn’t happen and I hope things get fixed before that.”

Haw River Road is part Oak Ridge and part Stokesdale. Mayor Schneider is working with Stokesdale City Council, Guilford County Commissioners and NCDOT leaders to make the necessary changes to prevent another loss of life.

“I think the first thing we feel is grief,” Schneider said. “Then we want to move on to something positive.”

Mayor Schneider knows that the proposed changes will not happen overnight. Until then, council members said the community could take action to make the road safer. They want to make sure pedestrians walk facing traffic and wear light-colored clothing. They ask drivers to obey speed limits and not to use their phones.