When 10-year-old Tanya Woods died under the wheels of a car on Pennsylvania Avenue SE, 3 weeks ago she became the third youngster killed crossing the street in that community in a little more than a year.
Two weeks ago in the wake of rising community concern, the Neighborhood School Council at Tanya's Randle Highlands Elementary asked the city for a traffic at 31st and Pennsylvania 60 yards from where she was killed.
"A lot of children came from the school and they run across Pennsylvania between 30th and 31st instead of going down to the light at 30th," said Mary Kale, a member of the school something has to be done about it." council. "It's really dangerous and
Since Tanya's death a number of people in her community, including the City Council representative for that ward, have become concerned about the heavy traffic on Pennsylvania from Minnesota Avenue east to the D.C. Maryland line. It is one of the city's major commuter routes from Prince George's County.
The thoroughfare, which has the fourth highest number of traffic accidents in the city in 1977, slices through a Southeast community heavily populated with children most of whom live in small, cramped apartments.
Most of the children live on the south side of Pennsylvania Avenue, a forgotten area of the city's back door east of the Anacostia River, but the Penn Branch shopping center at the corner of Branch and Pennsylvania avenues, one of their favorite destinations, is a few blocks away to the east but on the north side.
This means they must cross busy Pennsylvania. According to several residents, many of the citizens, children and adults, do as Tanya did - they take a short cut through the Randle playground, arriving at Pennsylvania near 31st, one of the few intersections where there is no traffic signal.
"We were going to buy some ice cream," said Tonia Butler, Tanya's friend who was with Tanya the day she was killed. "She said she was going to cross the street and I said, 'no, don't cross,' but she crossed anyway and the car hit her."
"She was on the stretcher and I knew she was gone," her father Thomas recalled. "The police were looking for who done it."
Allan R. Furey, of 4819 Ashford Dr., Upper Marlboro has been charged with driving while intoxicated in connection with the child's death, police said.
Mrs. Woods has kept a news clipping about another child, her neighbor Stephanie Thomas, 12, who was struck and killed by a car a block from her home April 1977.
"People just come speeding by here," said Laurence Thomas, 22, of 1814 28th Pl. SE, Stephanie's brother, as he stood near the spot a few yards from the intersection of 28th Street and Texas Avenue where he found his injured sister.
"It's like a drag strip raceway the way they come through here . . . They zoom on down until they get to R Street and they'll be flying . . . The city put up a 25 mph sign after my sister get killed," he said pointing to the black and white sign.
She was in a coma about a week after the accident before she died, he said. No charges were brought against the driver because Stephanie had run into the street from between two parked cars.
"I always told her to look before you walk. I always stressed that," he said.
Five blocks away and five months later Pamela Bussey, 13, was struck by a cement truck while crossing Branch Avenue near the Pennsylvania Avenue intersection.
Although the speed limit on the avenue is 25 mph, "those cars travel at a high rate of speed . . . It's a main speedway," said Gilbert Bussey, the girl's father.
"Slowing down that traffic is the answer," said City Council member Willie Hardy, who represents Ward 7 where all the children lived. "The police have been having radar out there and they will step that up. We have certainly lost too many lives not to change the flow of traffic."
She is unsure that a traffic light is the answer. "Lights don't stop people from being killed. People can still go fast."
Jack Hartley, director of the bureau of traffic engineering for the city's department of transportation, said his office is studying the need for a light at the intersection, in the wake of Tanya's death.
Other studies of the same intersection have shown no need, he said, because 31st Street leads to a dead end and there is simply not the volume of traffic at the intersection to justify a light costing between $12,000 and $15,000.
The community sees it differently.
"Why do you have to have a lot of incidents to prompt you into action? . . . One death is one too many" said Tony Jones, the Randle principal.