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Action News Investigates: Traffic light at scene of fatal crash

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Updated: 10/03/2013 3:11 am
LAKE CITY, Fla. -- It's a signal that has many drivers in Lake City confused. "It's the light that cried wolf," said Joel Becker.

Becker isn't the only one in Lake City who believes something's not right. After Monday night's tragic crash that killed 17-year-old Czarrah Howard, he and several others came to Action News about what they believe is an inconsistent intersection.

On Tuesday night, Action News spoke to the parents of one of the teens involved in that wreck. They came out to monitor U.S. 41 and Malone Street, telling us the lights change too quickly.
Becker had a similar story. "The north and southbound light will turn yellow for a few seconds and then red, and for about a quarter second it goes straight back to green," said Becker.

Our cameras caught it doing just that. With no cars sitting on Malone Street, the lights for U.S. 41 turned red, but only for a little more than a second. Then the lights switched back again. 

But on that fateful night, a car was on Malone Street, according to Lake City police, and Czarrah was in it. 

We went to the Florida Department of Transportation about the issue, spokeswoman Gina Busscher told us that kind of scenario could mean there's a broken sensor. "The sensors are not buried that deep into the pavement anyway and sometimes the loop becomes broken and then it goes into a manual cycle," said Busscher.

It's a cycle that Becker believes may lead to accidents. The police report about Monday night's accident that killed Czarrah says "One of the two vehicles ran a red light, and investigators are working to determine which one."

"I've noticed a lot of other drivers approach the intersection a lot faster at night when the light turns yellow because they know its it's going to turn straight back to green," said Becker.

According to FDOT, there have been 13 crashes at that intersection between 2007 and 2011. Officials also tell us they're looking into the issues we've brought to their attention.

Count on Action News to continue monitoring this story.

Czarrah Howard will be laid to rest Saturday at Epiphany Catholic Church in Lake City.

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