Demand for sidewalks grows after van struck skateboarding boys - KCTV5

Demand for sidewalks grows after van struck skateboarding boys

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Jorden Hale, 9, was killed. His friend, 6-year-old Jesus Gonzales, is in the hospital and faces a long road to recovery. Jorden Hale, 9, was killed. His friend, 6-year-old Jesus Gonzales, is in the hospital and faces a long road to recovery.
Jorden was a second-grader at an elementary school in the North Kansas City School District. The district offered grief counseling to students Monday. Jorden was a second-grader at an elementary school in the North Kansas City School District. The district offered grief counseling to students Monday.
Police say Jorden died within minutes of the accident. Jesus is in serious condition. Police say Jorden died within minutes of the accident. Jesus is in serious condition.
KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -

The demand for sidewalks in a neighborhood where two boys skateboarding on a street were struck by a minivan is growing.

"There's nothing for the kids to play on," resident Sharon Gonert said. "There's no sidewalks down there whatsoever."

The horrific crash happened Saturday evening outside a Northland apartment complex as the two boys were riding a skateboard.

Jorden Hale, 8, was killed. His friend, 6-year-old Jesus Gonzales, is in the hospital and faces a long road to recovery. He suffered a head injury and broken bones. He has undergone surgery to repair his broken leg.

Jesus' grandmother, Lesa Gutierrez, said the two boys' families had gathered for a barbecue and the two boys snuck off to play with a skateboard outside Jorden's home on Northeast Winn Road near Bellefontaine Avenue.

Police say the minivan driver was headed west when the two children came down a hill on the skateboard.

Gutierrez said neither boy was wearing a helmet.

Others in the apartment complex worry another accident could happen to the hundreds of other children who live near the busy street.

"They need to put sidewalks in here. You have to walk on the street just to get to the store," Danyelle Hughes said.

Another apartment resident, Denise Stanley, said the city needs to put signs out warning drivers that children are playing in the area.

"They have to do something out here. There are too many kids in just this complex," Stanley said.

Rodney March Banks wants a playground at the Walnut Groves apartments.

"If they put something back there, the kids will stay out of the street," Banks said.

City officials said in an email to KCTV5 that the portion of Northeast Winn Road near the scene of the accident was annexed without sidewalks and funding for improvements would require City Council approval.

The city actually was in the process of conducting research on the need for sidewalks and street signs in the area.

"We completed our study last year to see what it would take to bring sidewalks to that particular area," Kansas City Public Works Department spokesman Sean Demory said. "We are currently looking at funding as far as the overall cost of the work."

The Walnut Grove Apartments manager had been working to get a playground built even before the tragedy. She had started an online fundraiser, but no contributions had been made.

"She's really trying to work to get this done for the kids," Gonert said.

Jorden was a second-grader at an elementary school in the North Kansas City School District. The district offered grief counseling to students Monday.

The two boys were like brothers, and both families are grieving over the death Jorden's death.

Friends and neighbors stopped by the scene of the accident Sunday to offer their support. An impromptu vigil was held that evening.

Earlier in the day, colorful balloons and toys were placed at the spot where the minivan hit the boys as it came over a hill. Sgt. Bill Mahoney said this weekend that the driver stopped but not in time.

Police are investigating to determine if speed was a factor in the accident.

"It's sad, just very sad," Gutierrez said.

Police say Jorden died within minutes of the accident. Jesus is in serious condition.

Gutierrez visited her grandson in the hospital Sunday morning and says Jesus recognized her voice.

"He smiled, you know. So I know he can hear me. He's there. Thank God he is responsive," she said.

Gutierrez says Jesus and Jorden were inseparable. The older boy was practically one of the family.

"Jorden was like my own. Like my own grandbabies. And I'm sad for [his] family. I hope for the best for them," she said.

Gutierrez asks that friends and neighbors continue to offer support and comfort to the family of Jorden.

"My grandson is in the hospital, and it's hard for me to even understand that he is in the hospital for whatever reason. So I can just imagine what Jordan's family is going through," Gutierrez said.

A memorial service for Jorden will be held at 6 p.m. Wednesday at the apartments. Donations can be made in Jorden's name at any Bank of America.

KCTV5's Heather Staggers and DeAnn Smith contributed to this report.

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