Flowers on the west side of State Road A1A in South Palm Beach memorialize Hatixhe Laiqi, who was killed by a hit-and-run driver on Nov. 10. There were no skid marks or other easily visible evidence that showed an accident had occurred. The condo in the background is the Barclay, where Laiqi lived. Jerry Lower/The Coastal Star
By Brian Biggane
The hit-and-run death of a pedestrian on State Road A1A the evening of Nov. 10 and what comes next brought a large crowd to the November meeting of the Town Council in South Palm Beach.
The Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office announced three days later it had recovered the vehicle and identified the driver as a 43-year-old Boynton Beach woman. Charges depended on the outcome of an investigation.
“This is a wake-up call,” council member Robert Gottlieb said. “Other people have been hit and injured in the years before. A1A is not our road. We need to do something because people are scared.”
Mayor Bonnie Fischer recalled a man was killed in 2019 in front of the Imperial House and said there have been several near-misses since on the north-south highway that falls under the jurisdiction of the Florida Department of Transportation.
“It’s such a tiny, little street and a lot of people,” Vice Mayor Bill LeRoy said. “I haven’t come up with anything, nobody has come up with anything. It’s not my job, it’s FDOT’s job. They need to get in here and figure it out.”
Since the only pedestrian walkway alongside the road is located along its west side, Fischer said repeated efforts have been made to build another along the east side. But the town’s homeowners associations would all have to agree to it, making it highly unlikely, if not impossible.
A crosswalk with flashing lights was suggested, but that would be FDOT’s decision. Council member Monte Berendes said residents need to wear light and even reflective clothing and carry flashlights to call attention. The latest fatality occurred around nightfall.
James Donatelli, one of two residents who spoke, suggested that the kind of blue lights on airplanes would create less glare for drivers and that the streetlights could be brighter, though Fischer said they were installed just six years ago.
“A tragedy happened and we don’t want it to happen again,” Fischer said. “This is a very active community that likes to go on walks and I’ve had a lot of complaints from my neighbors. We’re going to try to move forward with some solutions.”