EAST CLEVELAND, Ohio — An East Cleveland woman died while trying to cross the street.
The family of 36-year-old Terra Nolden said it happened Monday around 5 p.m. on Euclid Avenue.
East Cleveland police said the driver responsible did stop. However, no charges have been filed.
“Once the final report is complete, it will be submitted to the City Prosecutor’s Office for any possible charges,” Chief Scott Gardner said.
Nolden's family, friends and community members gathered for a vigil on Thursday to honor her.
Nolden’s brother, Brutell Dandridge, said he was heading home when he got a call saying his baby sister died.
“Me and my sister was really close,” he said.
Dandridge said his sister left work early on Monday after hearing her daughter was at the hospital after hitting her head. She ended up needing stitches. Dandridge said Nolden got a text from her daughter saying, “It’s not that bad. I get a few stitches and you don’t have to come up here.”
So, Nolden headed to her neighbor’s home to pick up her other children. She had just gotten off the bus on Euclid Avenue when Dandridge said Nolden was hit and killed by a driver.
“Someone said she was crossing and the car was trying to turn or something and avoid another car and hit my sister,” Dandridge said.
Dandridge believes his sister’s death could have been prevented. The traffic light that hung above the intersection where Nolden was hit was recently taken down by ODOT as part of a traffic signal project.
“I would rather y’all pay for traffic lights and my sister would be here,” he said. “Y’all take them away and she lose her life. It’s not right and it’s not fair.”
News 5 reached out to ODOT for comment. Amanda McFarland, spokesperson for the agency, sent the following statement:
The Ohio Department of Transportation offers our sincere condolences to the family and friends of the young woman killed on Monday evening in East Cleveland when crossing Euclid Ave. As part of a comprehensive safety and traffic signal upgrade project in the city of East Cleveland, the signal at the intersection of Euclid Ave. and Stanwood/Strathmore is scheduled to be upgraded in the spring of 2020. With the city’s approval, the old signal was removed on November 22, 2019 because of a malfunction in the permanent flash mode. Stop signs replaced the red flashing signal for traffic on Stanwood Rd. and Strathmore Ave.
Several hours later, we received another statement from ODOT.
ODOT will work with the City of East Cleveland and the contractor to determine if they can expedite the replacement of their traffic signals that were removed because they were not working. These upgraded signals include additional safety signals for pedestrians.
According to ODOT, a study was done in 2012 to determine the necessary steps for improving traffic signal optimization in the city. The study found 31 of the 49 traffic lights were not “warranted” and would not be eligible for upgrades using federal funding. The remaining 18 were recommended for upgrades and new signals due to traffic volume, pedestrian volume and/or proximity to a school building. McFarland says the project is expected to be completed in July 2020.
In the meantime, Councilman-At-Large, Nathanial Martin, said something needs to be done. He said he suggested reducing the speed limit on Euclid Avenue for months. Martin also said the council was set to vote on the issue, but he could not get a second.
“I said then we’re setting ourselves up for a tragedy and I didn’t think the tragedy would happen that fast, but it did,” Martin said. “We’ve got to do something about this. This can happen again. It can.”
Dandridge, who is now preparing to take in his sister’s seven children along with his own, agrees.
“The responsibility is on me,” Dandridge said. “I know if it was the other way around my sister would take in mine so I just got to do what I gotta do to try to stay strong to provide for seven kids plus mine.”
Nolden’s funeral will he held on Jan.11 at 11 a.m. at Mount Haven Baptist Church at 3484 Martin Luther King Jr Dr.