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State makes changes at scene of deadly crash

FALMOUTH — Toni Wood finally sees a sign that her son did not die in vain.

Six months after 16-year-old Daniel Wood died in a bus crash on Ky. 22 west, Kentucky is lowering the speed limit on the road to 45 mph and making structural improvements to the road and roadside in hopes of preventing another similar crash.

"I'm overwhelmed. This is something that needed to be done all along," Toni Wood said. "If it saves another life, I'm glad we did all the work."

The Wood family has worked since June to make the rural, two-lane road safer. The result is built up shoulders along parts of the road that have drop-offs, new warning signs and trimmed trees that improve visibility.

A dump truck crossed the center line on the morning of May 1 and struck a school bus, killing Daniel Wood instantly and injuring 10 other Pendleton County students, including his younger brother and sister.

No criminal charges were ever filed, and investigators concluded the dump truck was traveling within the 55 mph speed limit.

But the Wood family and their neighbors protested that was too fast for the road, which has steep hills and sharp curves. There have been about 100 accidents on the road since January 2005. In June, the Wood family collected nearly 2,000 signatures on a petition for safety improvements.

They also commissioned a study of the road by Charlie Myers, retired chief district engineer for the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet's office in Fort Mitchell. His study found serious safety issues with the road, and many of his recommendations will now be implemented.

The Wood family's efforts also prompted the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet to conduct a safety audit of the road in July.

The audit found blind spots, sharp turns and visibility issues along the road. It recommended "improving signage along the route and also educating public about safe driving. Also enforcing the regulatory and advisory speed will help reduce the accidents in the future."

After the crash, residents along Ky. 22 put up yard signs and even a billboard to urge drivers to slow down in memory of Daniel Wood. His family has since moved away from Ky. 22.

"I wasn't able to stay there, not with all the memories of my son," Toni Wood said.

Gov. Steve Beshear has ordered the speed limit lowered to 45 mph throughout the 14-mile stretch of Ky. 22 west that runs from U.S. 27 in Pendleton County to U.S. 25 in Grant County. About 15 new speed limit signs may go up by the end of the week.

Toni Wood said the safety improvements will help, and she gives the credit to the community.

"They say that one person can't make a difference," she said. "It takes one person to get started, but it takes the whole community to push it along."