Stoughton Schools Issue Statement About Fatal Collision Near Hansen School

A police trauma team will be at the Hansen School September 19 when school reopens after Rosh Hashanah. School officials and Public Safety officials will carefully review all traffic areas around the Stoughton Schools.

Editor’s Note: The following is a statement from the Stoughton School Committee and the Stoughton Public Schools administration in regards to the tragic death of , a three-year-old Stoughton girl, who died shortly after she was in front of the Hansen Elementary School on Central St. in Stoughton Friday, September 14 around 2:45 p.m.

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We, the members of the Stoughton School Committee and , are deeply saddened and offer our condolences to the Lutz family for the death of their little girl.  They are in our thoughts and prayers. 

While Shayla was not a student at , this tragedy has deeply affected many people in the Hansen School community. School grief counselors will be available when school resumes from the religious holiday break on Wednesday for any students, staff members, and parents who feel the need to use their services. We are grateful for the offer from the Stoughton police chief Paul Shastany who has been of tremendous help and support to us from the very beginning of this terrible event.  He has facilitated the availability of the State Police trauma team who will also be at the Hansen School on Wednesday.  We will come together as a community to help and support all of our students, teachers, and families impacted by this tragedy.

Pick- and drop-off times are always a concern and we take the issue of safety in school and during arrival and departure from school very seriously.  School officials, in conjunction with Public Safety officials, will carefully review all of the areas around the Stoughton Schools to see if there is any more that can be done to ensure safety for all children using our streets and sidewalks.

DJ September 18, 2012 at 04:39 PM
Vicki, I drive that route daily and I've noted why I believe the schools crossing guard is located near Stone's End. Children cross there. I don't understand why there would not be a guard at West St, but frankly, I never, ever witness any children crossing at that juncture and likely that is the reason no guard is there. The question seems to be this: Do you place a guard at a location that may be used by only a handful of people at best or do you find a more cost effective means to provide adequate safety measures for the masses? Why is individual responsibility not at issue? If there was no crosswalk or warning light in this location I would understand the criticism and no one, me included, is ignoring the need to improve that road from the intersection of Canton and Central Streets all the way west past the school. I think we'd get a lot more accomplished if we took the time and made the effort to review all the details in a civil manner. Perhaps a public forum is in order and could be hosted by the school committee and attended by the relevant department heads and safety personal in a location that could accommodate the interested public?
DJ September 18, 2012 at 04:54 PM
Even if no one crosses there? Even if that crosswalk is a more dangerous crossing located at the intersection of an industrial commercial zone with commerce that has driveways and parking lots that would also be crossed by students trying to get home? That too would be an accident waiting to happen and then what? I don't mean to sound condescending, but you need to see all the facts and details because it is clearly not as simple as you seem to think.
Cheryl M September 18, 2012 at 04:55 PM
The problem is that the town did neither. They did not provide a cost effective SAFE crossing for the masses because families living near Island and Mill Street with children who go to the Hansen would be expected to walk 1/2 mile on rt 27/Central st. Without any sidewalks...which in my view is NOT SAFE. The town may argue that the west/central st. Crosswalk was sufficient for these families but with no traffic lights and no stop signs on the Central Street side of that intersection, that route is equally unsafe without a crossing guard in place. Whether it is one child or ten children who need to cross there, they deserve a walking route that does not put them in harm's way. Right now, the Town of Stoughton does not offer that.
Vicki September 18, 2012 at 05:41 PM
There is a bus stop at the top of Pinewood/Central for both the high school and Southeastern Regional. While I opt to drive my 2 girls to OMS and SHS, there are kids that cross from Mill to that bus stop. There is no crossing guard, no crosswalk and is out of the school zone. Stoughton schools decide on the bus stops for the area. I have seen kids crossing the street to get to that bus stop. Again it is not in sight of the crossing guard at Stones End. I used to cross that same road when my bus stop in the 80's with no cross guard or crosswalk. The speed limit is 35 and there is more traffic now than when I used to do it. The Stoughton Schools do not take anything into consideration when doing things. The safety of all of our school children should be top priority from day one and not now after this tragic accident has occured. School bus should be free for ALL elementary school students regardless of how far they live from the school. Then the parents should have to sign a waiver stating that they will pick up the child(ren) on school property and not in the street if they do not want the bus for them. When the schools decided that buses were an expense they didn't want, then they should have come up with a safety plan for every intersection near a school. Shayla's parents live on Island Street and there is no SAFE place to cross from Island to the Hansen without a crossing guard.
Heather September 18, 2012 at 05:49 PM
DJ, you state that there is a crossing guard at the Hansen school. I believe that most parents wouldn't consider Stone Ends being at the Hansen School. It is in fact quite far down the street from the school. There should be a guard actually AT the school as there are many children that live in the Mill Street area and behind that in Copperwood that go to the Hansen School and are not given an opportunity to cross safely. For a child that lives in that area they would need to go all the way down to Stone Ends then walk all the way back up Central Street where there is no sidewalk to get home. Do you think that is safe? And what about the kids that live on Island Street? Should they too have to go all the way up to Stone Ends and then walk back down?
DJ September 18, 2012 at 06:29 PM
Hi Heather, A crossing at Mill St would seem to be a reasonable compromise to accommodate children on both ends of Central if there was a sidewalk on the north side of Central , but at present there is only a sidewalk on the south side of Central which I believe is why the crossing guard is located so far west of the School. You and others can and should work with the DPW, PD and Schools and/or submit a warrant article to petition for sidewalks for the north side of the street. That is how it is done by many neighborhoods who find themselves with a safety concern.
Vicki September 18, 2012 at 08:00 PM
@DJ and what about the kids that live on West St and need to cross West St to get to the Hansen School? How about the kids that live on the other side of the Hansen and walk to and from the OMS or SHS? They need to cross West St and there is no crossing guard for them either. There are several kids I see walking to and from those schools. In the fall and spring my daughter who is 16 does decide to walk home from SHS afterschool and has to cross that street. All crosswalks need a crossing guard for the students, for whatever reason, walk to and from school. When the buses were elimated from teh OMS and SHS unless you pay for them, crossing guards should have been hired for every crosswalk. I see kids struggling to cross Canton St to get to Simpson St every day before and after school. I would love to see the School Committee have a public meeting and announced weeks in advance for all parents to attend. It should be weeks in advance so parents can set up babysitting in advance.
mom2qts September 18, 2012 at 08:53 PM
If this issue was ever put to me for a vote I would vote that the school needs more crossing guards. Now with that said.... Please explain to me exactly what the crossing guard would have done to prevent this accident. From what I have read, the little girl ran away from her mother into the street. Only if the crossing guard was already in the street stopping traffic could this have been avoided. So I fail to see peoples logic in a crossing guard being a cure all. My prayers are with the families.
Cheryl M September 18, 2012 at 10:40 PM
Mom and Shayla were waiting across from the Hansen to cross. As I understand it, a car in the lane of traffic closest to them stopped to let them cross. As they started to walk, Shayla broke away. The other lane had not stopped and the truck did not see her as she ran into the path of oncoming traffic. Had a crossing guard been directing them across the street, both lanes of traffic would have been stopped before they started to cross. A crossing guard is not a cure all. Accidents can still happen but with less likelihood. The town needs to make sure they are doing everything they can to create safe passage for students and their families in school zones. I feel Stoughton has failed to do that in regards to the Hansen.
Wendy Peters September 19, 2012 at 05:23 PM
DJ is being truthful when she says that she is not related to Rizzi and does not work in town. DJ is a member of the school committee.
Oh, well that makes a sense - a school committee member trying to defend this situation where it is obvious that the town and the school committee have a responsibility to protect our children and have let us down in the worst way possible. DJ must feel incredibly guilty as he should be because if passes that route everyday as he stated he should have noticed that the area was unsafe and needed attention - don't you think that would have been doing his job as a member of the school committee. And now that a three year old is dead he is trying to make himself feel better that he he didn't anything about it - shame on you DJ. This is not the type of person I want on the school committee so if people know who he is make sure he does not get re-elected. Lastly, I was at the funeral today and I did not see any members of the school committee present. Sorry if I am wrong about this but I am pretty sure. Now the Stoughton PD should be commended on how great they have been to the family - especially Det. Hardy and and Officer Desouza - those two have given the family needed support and comfort - unlike town officials such as DJ.
Just Saying September 19, 2012 at 06:55 PM
@DJ - You seem to be of the opinion that one crossing guard in the vacinity of an elementary school, which is located on a main street with very high traffic, is sufficient. That is ridiculous! There needs to be at least 3-4 more crossing guards and/or put the kids on buses!
@mom2qts.......your statement makes no sense. They are called crossing guards because they assist (guard) people crossing the street....when the child ran away they were waiting to cross the street so a crossing guard would have had all traffic stopped - both ways. And maybe the crossing guard in a a bright yellow neon vest would have been more noticeable to the truck driver....drivers don't always stop for other stopped cars as they should but they do stop for crossing guards....which would have probably avoided this tragedy. And you are the first one to mention cure all?.....there is no cure all to anything in this world but there should have been a much better effort and pro-active plan to avoid this happening in front of an elementary school
A trust fund for the Lutz family has been established at the Stoughton Co-Operative Bank. Donations may be made to The Lutz Family Trust at either of the Stoughton Co-Operative Bank's branches on Park St or mailed to the Lutz Family Trust, c/o Stoughton Co-operative Bank, PO Box 446, Stoughton, MA 02072.
DJ September 20, 2012 at 12:10 AM
I have made no such assertion and have advocated more improvements are needed. You should consider improving your reading comprehensions skills....just saying...
DJ September 20, 2012 at 12:31 AM
Wendy and Cheryl or who ever you are. Did you not learn that assuming makes an A.S.S. out of U and M.E.? Should I also assume Wendy, that you are the wife of a police officer simply because you commend two good cops when others chastise the force for its inaction in regulating speeding traffic and motor vehicle hazards? Neither of you have a clue who I am, yet claim I'm a SSC member then claim no SCC members attended the service. Do you even care how many fallacies you present in your posts? If you want to know who I am and confirm I am not a member of the group of VOLUNTEERS who spend hundreds of hours serving on our SSC, to help make our schools and community a better place, then please consider yourself invited to the Stoughton Co-operative Bank tomorrow morning. I'll be there just about 9:45 submitting a check to the Lutz Family Trust. Please also feel free to introduce yourselves.
Cheryl M September 20, 2012 at 12:43 AM
I'm sorry, DJ, are you referring to me? I never said anything about who I thought you might be. I'll be at work tomorrow from 7-2 but I'd love to meet up. I want to see changes made and you seem to have ideas on how to start the process.
mom2qts September 20, 2012 at 12:50 AM
I see what you are saying and put that way it does make sense. I was thinking that they were still walking along to school, not already stopped waiting to cross. If the crossing gaurd was in the street I can see how it could have helped. I have seen way too many times at the West school, the number of people who do not cross at the crossing guard and also the number of cars that speed up when the see the crossing guard step out into the street. It is scary the people who have no regard (drivers) for peoples safety. I am also in no way implying that the driver was at fault.
formertownie September 20, 2012 at 01:05 AM
@DJ, @Cheryl M, do you both feel better about yourselves now. Reading your posts from the past few days you both really come off as pompous un-informed citizens. At times I miss my home town but when I read comments like yours I do not. A family is burying their 3 year old daugher and you are arguing town politics. Pathetic. Disgusting.
Cheryl M September 20, 2012 at 01:16 AM
I was arguing child safety. This tragedy may have been preventable and I think it is important that steps are taken to lessen the chance of it ever happening again. I am a mom of Hansen students and it easily could have been one of my kids. I'm not sure how advocating for child safety comes off as pompous; I do admit I'm uninformed about town politics. I've only posted about what I felt could be done to lessen the likelihood of this type of tragedy recurring.
formertownie September 20, 2012 at 01:20 AM
as @concerned parent stated yesterday, the two of you going back and forth like children does nothing for the situation. The fact of the matter is a child was killed and it really had nothing to do with whethere there was a crosswalk, or a crossing guard. It was a tragic accident. would love to be a fly on the wall should you and @DJ ever meet. agreed with earlier posts that @DJ likely knows a town or school offical though.
formertownie September 20, 2012 at 01:24 AM
after a few posts it didnt really seem like you were arguing child safety anymore...it seemed like you were really letting @DJ get to you. I dont think pompous was the word I was actually looking for....it just seems as though we're forgetting why we're all angry here...focus people
Cheryl M September 20, 2012 at 01:27 AM
"concerned parent" was not referring to my comments with DJ. And while you are entitled to your opinion, so am I. A crossing guard may have saved Shayla's life. I am not the only person who has stated that.
DJ September 20, 2012 at 01:29 AM
The last thing my posts were are political. Each of my posts have been written to denounce unfair accusations or respond to a direct question. Blaming innocent people for an accident in my mind, is inexcusable. This is a newspaper and I think it is clear that everyone one posting has only the best intentions for the families involved though I completely agree that the bickering is unhelpful and unnecessary. For that I apologize.
formertownie September 20, 2012 at 01:47 AM
While you are correct, @Cheryl M in pointing out my error that @concerned parents comment was not aimed directly at your comments with @DJ......my initial point remains the same. The last two sentences of @DJ's last post pretty much sum up the point I was trying to make. So with that, my first (and likely) last venture into "blogging" (or whatever this is) ends. Completely ashamed at myself that I spent part of my evening let all these posts get me riled up.
Cheryl M September 20, 2012 at 01:48 AM
I did let DJ get at me. I know Shayla's mom and Shayla's brother; my son was in his kindergarten class last year. I had met Shayla, watched her play, laugh and enjoy life. I have not stopped thinking about her passing since I found out last Friday night. I've cried, I 've had nightmares and I've made sure to hold my kids a little tighter, hug them a little longer because you just never know what the next minute will bring. I want to see changes made so we never have to re-live this with the loss of another child.
Just Saying September 20, 2012 at 01:54 AM
@ DJ - I must have hit a nerve, now you're going to make snide remarks about reading comprehension skills. That would be funny, but for the tragic loss of a 3 year olds life! Also, many of your comments are justifications for the placement of the only crossing guard at Stone Ends, rather than at the Hansen. Children living within 2 miles of the school are expected to be "walkers". Which means all of the roads that any of these children would utilize to go to/from school need to be SAFE!!! Children living in a less populous area should not have their safety compromised, their families are paying the same property tax rate as everyone else.
mom2qts September 20, 2012 at 07:40 PM
I'm sorry it didn't make sense to you. I'm glad there are others who did understand what I asked. As for me being the first one to mention cure all, do I win a prize? Again I'm sorry if I offended you by my use of the phrase "cure all." It came across to me as people were saying that this child could only have survived if there was a crossing guard. As has been explained, I did not know or may have missed, that they were waiting to cross. I had thought they were walking to the cross walk.
HELP THE FAMILY OF SHAYLA LUTZ September 21, 2012 at 01:28 PM
********EVERYONE THAT CAN SHOULD CONTRIBUTE TO THIS ASAP****** A trust fund for the Lutz family has been established at the Stoughton Co-Operative Bank. Donations may be made to The Lutz Family Trust at either of the Stoughton Co-Operative Bank's branches on Park St or mailed to the Lutz Family Trust, c/o Stoughton Co-operative Bank, PO Box 446, Stoughton, MA 02072.
Grammysue7 September 21, 2012 at 01:45 PM
I am jumping in now as a concerned grandparent and person who lives close to the are where the crashing guard is stationed west of the school, but have grandchildren who live east of the school near Island St. Inhave studed the traffic pattern for the past 2 weeks and there is no safe way to come from Iskand Street and crosses to the Hansen school. The marked crosswalk up several yards from Island Street does not have a sidewalk leading to it and is on a blind corner. I would never cross the street in that crosswalk asit would be very unsafe to do so. I would if a guard was there to actually stop traffic for me. The Lutz family loss could have been prevented by better diligence on the part of the town. Island St has residential family homes and potential walkers. As I drive by Shayla's memorial I have tears in my eyes as I see no crossing guard or police support during the school peak hours if traffic. Stoughton should take temporary action to provide that support until a traffic study can be done and a plan out in place. Shame on them if another child or person is hurt.


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