News 12 First at Five / Tuesday, Dec. 18, 2012
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- It's one of the deadliest highways in the area, and on Tuesday, crews worked to make it safer. There's now a new traffic signal at the intersection of Mike Padgett Highway and Doug Barnard Parkway near International Paper.
Many drivers are applauding the Department of Transportation for adding the light, especially families who've lost loved ones on that dangerous stretch of road.
Debra Fraser watched on as DOT crews finished installing a new traffic light near the spot where her 32-year-old son, Glenn Cliatt, lost his life.
"We all love and miss him very much. His life was just really picking up," Fraser said.
Glenn, or Bubba as his family called him, was hit and killed by a tanker truck on Mike Padgett in April. The driver's been charged with failing to stop and misdemeanor vehicular homicide.
"It's unfortunately a little too late for him, but I think it will help a lot," Fraser said. "Hopefully, it's going to save a lot of lives out here."
"I feel like my brother lost his life in order for them to do this," said Brandee Inskeep, Cliatt's sister.
Tuesday was Fraser's birthday. She says the new light is a sign from her son.
"It was really exciting when I was told it was going to be turned on on my birthday, and I feel like that's his gift to me," she said.
With speeding drivers, log trucks and tractor trailers moving in every direction, there's no doubt Mike Padgett Highway is one of the most deadly roads in the area.
At the same intersection another cross is labeled for Jamie Walker, who died on a rainy 2008 day when his car slammed into a tractor trailer.
"There's a long stretch that needs a lot of work," Fraser said.
"People flying, they need to slow down, pay attention," Inskeep said.
DOT crews say they are working to make it safer by adding turning lanes, medians and traffic lights like this one.
"I have to travel this road every day so this is a reminder for all of us everyday," said Inskeep, choking back tears.
For Cliatt's family, it's a small victory.
"Hopefully, it's going to save others," Inskeep said.
"It makes me feel better. This is the birthday gift, and I thank my son," Fraser said.
The driver accused in Cliatt's death is Bernard Middleton of Jacksonville. The case against him is still pending.
The wreck that killed Cliatt was the first of at least two deadly accidents on Mike Padgett this year. In May, a woman who deputies say was driving drunk, pulled out in front of a pickup truck. The passenger in the suspect's car died.
In 2011, we counted at least three deadly crashes there. In one crash, three people were killed, and in two of the three wrecks, a logging truck was involved.
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