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'I thought he was dead': Parents in Billings Heights call for action to slow vehicles

megan vaden.jpg
Posted at 8:08 PM, Aug 31, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-01 13:24:12-04

BILLINGS - Families who live on Lake Elmo Drive in Billings have growing concerns about cars speeding through our neighborhood— and their concerns are justified.

In 2022, at least two children have been struck by speeding vehicles on this road while walking to school or their bus stop. One mother, Megan Vaden, had her world turned upside-down in March when her 8-year-old son, Ben, was hit by a car in front of their house.

Ben suffered a severe concussion, traumatic brain injury and brain damage. Since this incident, Vaden has been pleading with the city to take action and come up with a solution to make Lake Elmo Drive a safer street, but she said the city keeps shutting her down. She has lobbied for money for traffic improvements, got petition signatures, made calls to virtually every department of the city, and been met with silence or denial.

The driver was cited for no insurance but not for any traffic violations, according to Vaden

Vaden, like many others in her neighborhood, believes that many of these speeding cars are using Lake Elmo Drive to avoid the heavier traffic on Main Street, even though Lake Elmo Drive is mostly a residential area consisting of single-family homes and a few apartment complexes.

Her main concern is getting this problem solved so it doesn't happen to anyone else.

Unfortunately, on Tuesday morning, another child was hit on Lake Elmo Drive.

Kayla Webster's 7-year-old son Monroe was on his way to school when he too was hit by a vehicle. Webster was at work when it happened but was informed via phone by Billings police that her son was hit by a car and was in the hospital. He is sore, but is expected to make a full recovery.

The driver was not cited because Monroe ran into the road, according to Billings Police Lt. Matt Lennick.

Irene Nelson, another concerned mom, has lived on Lake Elmo Drive for four years and has witnessed multiple speed-related accidents, including her neighbor Vaden's son being struck in March. She explains that mostly every house on her street has children and pets, and that it shouldn't take a death for the city to want to fix the problem.

These concerned mothers are pleading with drivers to slow down and be aware when driving in any neighborhood. Children are unpredictable, and it's best to be aware.