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Safety: Drivers must stay alert for children

As school starts each year, warning abound about drivers being alert for children who are more likely to be out and about — perhaps walking to and from school. Two recent incidents remind us drivers must by hypervigilant as the weather warms up, too.

Sunday, a Belpre 6-year-old was in front of his house when he “stepped out into traffic and was struck by the car,” according to Belpre Police Chief Terry Williams. Tragically, Mehkai Griffith Striblin did not survive. His family and the Belpre community are now grieving that loss.

Though the accident remains under investigation, Williams said he does not expect charges to be filed.

The next day, a 10-year-old was playing on a scooter in a driveway when he “inadvertently went out into the street and struck the front side of” a car. He was hurt, but the injuries are not believed to be life-threatening.

Belpre Police Sgt. Joe Fields said no citation is expected from that incident, either, as it was “an unfortunate accident.”

Children at play can be unpredictable. They are enjoying the moment, not necessarily planning for all potential risks on a warm, sunny day.

Drivers must move through neighborhoods slowly and cautiously, with the mindset that at any moment a ball could roll out in front of their car — followed by a chasing child; or a youngster riding a bike could lose his balance and wobble into the roadway. Certainly they must avoid self-imposed distractions at all costs.

Our hearts go out to the families struggling right now. As Belpre City Schools Superintendent Jeff Greenley put it, “It’s a member of our family, a member of our community that’s not with us.”

Please, folks, turn that feeling of devastation into a determination to do all we can to stay alert and aware as the changing season means there will be many more children playing outside for months to come.

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