After teen hit by SUV, residents fight for Dempsey Road improvements

BLENDON TOWNSHIP, Ohio (WCMH) — A 14-year-old girl collides with an SUV on a stretch of road with limited sidewalks and a very narrow road.

“Luckily no broken bones, but lots and lots of road rash, and emotionally very shook up,” said the girl’s mother, Suzanne Zonner following her daughter’s accident on Dempsey Road.

Now Zonner wants improvements to the road after she has been witnessing how many people without a vehicle use that road.

Blendon Township Police said since 2018, there have been 24 crashes and two incidents involving people on bicycles, but only one collision.

The latest one involved that teenager riding her bike on Dempsey Road.

Zonner received a frightening phone call that her 14-year-old daughter had collided with an SUV and was run over while riding her bike.

“No parent ever wants to get that phone call,” said Zonner.

Luckily her physical injuries were minor.

She has road rash on her arm from where she fell, and the imprint of the SUV’s tire on her shirt.

“She has no desire currently to get back on a bike, which is sad,” said Zonner.

This mom has a petition looking to make this stretch of road safer for people walking their kids to the park and others on bikes.

“There’s not a whole lot of area on the side of the white line for anyone to walk,” said Zonner.

Community members said Dempsey Road is not a stretch of road they want to go on without a vehicle.

“It’s scary,” said Lori Rees.

Rees said her husband runs and walks up and down the street and she’s worried about what can happen. She is so worried, she doesn’t let her son on the road even on a bike.

“There’s no berms,” said Rees. “There’s ditches right alongside, there’s a lot of hills that go up and down. It’s just not a road we’re comfortable with.”

Zonner wants something to happen and soon. She said she will be going to the County Engineers office to fight for improvements along the road.

“For Franklin County to put a paved path all the way down Dempsey Road or to connect to the existing sidewalks,” said Zonner.

Both Franklin County and the City of Westerville have identified the Dempsey Road corridor as part of their 10-year capital improvement plan. The specifics of the project have not yet been identified.

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