Medicine Park, OK._A fatal two-car crash in Medicine Park on Tuesday evening that killed 18-year-old Macayla Smith of Elgin and seriously injured her 14-year-old brother is shedding light on a dangerous traffic problem at the intersection where it occurred.
Medicine Park police said the intersection of Highways 49 and 58 has been the scene of far too many accidents. Smith was headed south on Highway 58 and stopped at the intersection at 49. She then turned east onto 49, but didn't yield to oncoming traffic and was t-boned by a westbound car.
Chief Rod McKee said, as first responders and police cleaned up the mangled wreckage, they couldn't help but think that they had seen this coming. He said there was another bad wreck there about two months ago. McKee said there are several factors make the intersection at Highways 49 and 58 very dangerous.
"In the daytime, it's the traffic flow, and at night time, it's the traffic flow, plus, we've also got no lighting. It's a t-intersection, so people that are coming southbound, if they're not paying attention and don't know the road, they're going to be on it pretty fast, " said McKee.
He said his department has come up with a few feasible solutions that could save lives.
"I really think the best viable option to really make this intersection safe would be a traffic light. Something short of that would be the lit signs, the flashing (stop) signs on 49 coming back west and 58 going south."
Gudrun Tendall said she knows just what Macayla's family is going through. Her 21-year-old daughter was killed in a car wreck on Highway 58 north of Carnegie in 2003. She drives through the intersection daily and has a few suggestions of her own.
"Most of the people, when they're in the right lane, they turn up on 58. But since it's not only a right-hand turn, people go straight on it. We would like to see a right-turn lane only, so people are aware that traffic is turning and the next lane over is going straight," said Tendall.
Other drivers said it's going to take more than just signs to make a difference.
"You do have to pay attention because it's a two-lane highway both directions. So, you do have to pay attention to both lanes and not just the first one. So, it's probably more people not paying attention. I don't think it's a problem with the intersection", said Linda Jamison.
Cory Wardell said keeping a closer eye on the road and your surroundings could make the difference between life or death.
"Come to a complete stop and pay attention and obey the law. If you don't come to a complete stop, it could be your life. You could get hit by another car and get t-boned," he said.
Chief McKee said it's still unclear why Macayla drove into the intersection in front of oncoming traffic. He said that Macayla's 14-year-old brother has regained consciousness and is expected to make a full recovery. As far as the driver who hit Macayla, McKee said she was not at fault, and has been treated and released from the hospital.
The Oklahoma Department of Transportation said they are aware of the dangers of that intersection. ODOT's Brenda Perry said the department did install some rumble strips approaching that intersection a few years ago. She said in order to add more warning signs, another traffic study would have to be conducted to see if the intersection meets the federal requirements. That process could take several weeks. Perry said if the intersection does meet the criteria, ODOT then has to find the funding to pay for it.