Man killed crossing I-44 identified, city looking for solutions

Man killed crossing I-44 identified, city looking for solutions

LAWTON, Okla._The City of Lawton is once again looking into how to keep people from walking across I-44 following the tragedy on Thanksgiving. A man was killed when he was struck by a truck as he crossed the turnpike near the Gore Boulevard entrance ramp.  Today, police identified the victim as 50-year-old Prince Wilson.  He's the third person killed since Labor Day of 2013, so one city councilman wants to renew the call to explore ways to deter pedestrians along that one-mile stretch of highway.

City officials say they could build a fence on the side of the highway, widen the bridge crossing over I-44 on Gore Boulevard, or they could build a pedestrian walk way. But after this recent death, they want to put a plan into action as soon as possible.

Cellphone video was taken by an employee at a business next to the highway showing what they see almost every day, people taking a gamble with their lives crossing the interstate.

Michael Ward who works at a car dealership says he sees 4 to 5 people walking across the highway per day.

"I'm actually very worried about them," said Ward. "They could easily get hit. You could have somebody not paying attention, texting while they're driving, and you could easily hit anyone out there."

City Councilman Keith Jackson has been working to put up some preventative measures. In the next city council meeting, he is bringing back the proposal to put fences up on both sides of the interstate.

"Something needs to be done," said Jackson. "We realize there has to be a flow of pedestrian traffic across that area but we got to do it better than letting people walk out in the middle of that highway."

In 2013 after a man was hit and killed, city officials say they asked the Oklahoma Department of Transportation for help and the state offered to put up fences, which was strongly opposed by some of the surrounding businesses. They said it would obstruct the view of their business and the fence would collect trash. Another attempt to put up fences was made after a crossing death this last march, but was not successful.

"I personally can't believe that someone would vote against this," said Jackson. "An opportunity to help save a live, and that's exactly what this is, to help save a life."

The cost of the fence is estimated at $100,000 to $200,000. Jackson says the city doesn't have the funds to put up fences, but he hopes the state will offer to pay for the construction like they did back in 2013. City officials say a pedestrian walkway would be too costly at about $2 million, and widening the bridge on Gore Boulevard would not keep people from still crossing the interstate.