Students, parent concerned about safety in front of Hopewell school

Students, parent concerned about safety in front of Hopewell school

HOPEWELL, Va. (WWBT) - Hopewell police are looking for the driver who nearly ran over a teen crossing the street and making matters worse, the teen says the driver then flashed a gun at him.

Police took the report from the student’s mother around 6:10 p.m. Feb. 13 after she claims her son was nearly hit by the car.

"They don't stop and some of them even speed up," said Jennifer Cooper.

Cooper said her 18-year-old son walks to school at Hopewell High every day. However, what happened on Feb. 13 left her feeling uneasy as her son walked home from school and tried to cross South Mesa Drive but was almost hit by a car.

"He did say some not so nice things to the vehicle that was passing,” Cooper said. “The vehicle actually turned around and came up to my son and he said ‘what did you say?’ My son said ‘you almost hit me.’”

“The 18-year-old student became angry with the driver as he believed he had the right of way,” police said. “Words were exchanged with the driver and the student. It was reported the driver removed a black in color firearm from his compartment of the dark-colored van and placed the firearm on his lap.”

The teen told police the gun was never pointed or held in a threatening manner towards him.

Police and the school resource officers investigated the incident but don’t have any leads at this time. A spokesperson added it appears to be an isolated incident.

Meanwhile, other students said Wednesday they fear for their safety when trying to cross the road in front of the high school.

"I feel like [drivers are] just in a hurry and don't focus on the safety of the children," Cooper said.

There are four pedestrian crossings on South Mesa Drive near the school; only one of them has a physical crossing signal. The others have yield signs.

"There are laws and reasons why you stop when people are crossing,” Cooper said. “How are we supposed to teach our children the laws of the road when other people aren't even following them."

What Cooper would like to see are crossing guards out near Hopewell High School enforcing the rules and the installation of cameras to capture any problems.

“It's concerning, because when a kid does get hit there's nothing to show who did it or what happened," Cooper said.

Hopewell City Schools Director of Operations Patrick Barnes said they have kept an eye on the crossings with the help of the police department.

“We have been monitoring it with an extra police presence especially during arrival and dismissal times,” he added.

In response to Cooper’s suggestion about crossing guards, Barnes said there are guards who are utilized at other schools, like at the elementary level, but on a volunteer basis.

As for cameras, Barnes said they haven’t discussed installing cameras in the area but are open to a conversation about the need.

Meanwhile, Hopewell Police encourage people to immediately report any sort of accident or situation where someone is nearly hit by a car.

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