Oct. 16, 2003 – After police officials appealed for volunteers to work as school crossing guards at Addelita Cancryn Junior High School, one kind soul showed up Thursday morning to help students navigate busy Veterans Drive to get to the school grounds, according to an aide to Principal Yvonne Pilgrim.
The call for volunteer help came in the wake of the Oct. 8 traffic mishap that caused damage to the overhead footbridge at the intersection by the school. After the container of a dump truck got caught in the bridge superstructure, Public Works officials closed the walkway until its structural integrity can be verified.
Public Works crews painted new crosswalk lines on the five-lane roadway over the Columbus Day/V.I.-Puerto Rico Friendship Day holiday weekend.
Due to a shortage of personnel, neither police officers nor school crossing guards have been deployed to the intersection since the accident to assist students in crossing the road, according to Sgt. Thomas Hannah, department spokesman. On Wednesday, Hannah issued the call for help.
Because of the "emergency situation" at Cancryn and "our manpower shortage," he said, the Police Department is in need of individuals to volunteer "so that we can help those kids cross the roadway in a safe fashion."
He said volunteers should contact St. Thomas Deputy Police Chief Elvin Fahie at the Alexander Farrelly Justice Complex. He also said it's unknown when the footbridge will be re opened.
Pilgrim said through an aide that since the bridge was closed, police have been on hand sporadically in the mornings before the start of school. "They're not there every day. They were not there this morning," the aide said on Thursday. "Someone from the community came to assist with crossing the students." And police have not been present at all at the end of the school day, the aide said.
Callwood said on Thursday that engineers who assessed the damage found the bridge structurally sound. But he said the walkway must be repaired before it can be reopened.
"It's not a quick fix. It's a very tedious situation," he said. "We have to make certain all the bolts, all the joints are intact. We have to make certain the bridge is safe to cross; so, we have to take our time." He predicted significant progress by the end of the month but said money will be a factor in how quickly the work can be done.
Meanwhile, Callwood said, the crosswalk stripes were painted last weekend to help those crossing the road and those assisting them, and to alert motorists to areas where students and other pedestrians have the right of way.
Engineers have reinforced portions of the concrete walkway which bore the impact of the crash when the lift on a dump truck pushed the container into an upright position and it became wedged in the overhead bridge. Authorities said the truck driver told police the truck mechanism went out of control. He received a traffic citation..
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