Jul 12, 2022 - News

Teen's death prompts Des Moines school traffic changes

A photo of Ema Cardenas

Ema Cardenas. Photo courtesy of the Cardenas family via the Des Moines Police Department

Des Moines has redefined its definition of a "school district."

Why it matters: It expands school speed zones beyond areas surrounding a schoolhouse to include facilities like stadiums or practice fields.

  • The action was prompted by the April 28 hit-and-run death of 14-year-old East High School student Ema Cardenas.

Catch up fast: Cardenas was hit while crossing the 1600 block of East University Avenue after classes.

State of play: The City Council adopted definitional changes on June 27.

  • City staffers will move school flasher equipment near the site of the accident by the fall.

Driving the news: More changes are proposed as part of a larger project expected to begin in 2024, pending funding.

  • The pedestrian crossing flashers along that segment of East University would be updated with speed feedback signs.
  • Multiple new HAWK signals — which flash lights for motorists to slow down to allow pedestrians to cross the street — are planned.

Of note: Terra Flipping, 38, of DSM was charged with a felony count of leaving the scene of an accident in connection with Cardenas' death.

  • A hearing in that case is set for Wednesday.
A photo of a Des Moines crosswalk
This intersection near East 15th Street and East University Avenue connects Hiatt Middle School with a sports complex also used by the nearby East High School. It's one of multiple crossings that will be updated. Photo: Jason Clayworth/Axios

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