OGDEN -- After the death of two men on Wall Avenue near St. Anne's Center in Ogden, the area's homeless population hopes something will be done to make crossing the street there safer.
"The cars don't want to stop," Anthony Gallegos said, noting many vehicles move too fast to slow down. "They need to put a crosswalk there."
Gallegos and a number of homeless patrons of the shelter, at 137 W. Binford St., recently discussed their difficulties trying to cross Wall Avenue.
Ideas to improve the area include a proper crosswalk, better lighting and a pedestrian bridge.
The homeless patrons shared their concerns following Monday's death of their friend Daniel Thobe, 50.
Ogden police say Thobe had crossed Wall Avenue at 26th Street around 7:47 p.m., when he was struck by a 1999 Pontiac Grand Prix. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
Thobe is described as a well-liked person and a friend to most of the people in the homeless community.
"He was loved," said St. Anne's resident Jody Duran.
The accident follows the hit-and-run death of Paul David Saures, 56, on Christmas Eve.
The area they cross is a three-way intersection, with a stop sign at the end of Binford Street.
The nearest crosswalks are at 25th and 29th streets. There is a streetlight, but St. Anne's patrons say it gives off little light.
Duran said when she goes to the center to eat or sleep at night, she and others have to cross the busy stretch of road in darkness, especially during the winter.
Alonso Garcia said he approached the Ogden City Council with the problem last month.
"I said this is a kill zone," he said. "In the mornings, when we cross and we leave, drivers punch their accelerators."
Nicolasa Rosas was there for both recent accidents. The previous accident resulted in the death of her husband. She and the other homeless residents said they had experienced another tragic death a few years before.
"I had another friend that got his brain smashed in, over by the rescue mission," Rosas said.
St. Anne's Center Program Manager John Terry said the center has asked the Utah Department of Transportation to do something to allow for safer crossing closer to the center and Ogden Rescue Mission, in the same area at 2775 Wall Ave.
At Tuesday night's Ogden City Council meeting, Garcia again pleaded for the city administration and council to take action to improve safety near the 27th and Wall intersection.
"Does it really have to take another life (before action is taken)?" Garcia told the council. "Is there going to come a point where we start having to use our own flags to cross the street?"
Ogden Chief Administrative Officer Mark Johnson said Wall Avenue is a state road, so UDOT will have to be involved in any changes to the road. He said the city has already talked with UDOT, which has committed to fund a traffic study of the area.
The homeless patrons have complained that police have given out more jaywalking tickets lately but have not monitored speeding drivers.
"We're punishing our residents who are seeking services here at St. Anne's, and we're further hurting their position," Terry said earlier Tuesday. He asks drivers to be more careful regarding pedestrians.
Along with the fatalities, at least a dozen homeless people have been seriously injured in auto accidents as well.
Johnson and Mayor Mike Caldwell said the city has spoken with Ogden Police Chief Mike Ashment, directing him to increase officer enforcement of posted speed limits on the road.
On Tuesday night, several officers could be seen pulling over speeding motorists in the area.
Council members vowed to send a joint letter to UDOT, along with the city administration, in an effort to speed up the traffic-study process.
"It's too important to wait," said Councilwoman Susie Van Hooser.
After the council meeting, Garcia, who was a friend of Thobe, said he's hopeful proper changes can be made to stop auto-pedestrian accidents at the Wall Avenue intersection.
"I think they are serious about wanting to help," Garcia said of the city administration and council. "I just hope we can fix it before we lose another life."
Terry said the center will hold an event at 3 p.m. today, remembering each person hurt or killed, with a wreath along Wall Avenue.
The patrons at St. Anne's said they want people to know that they are human beings, too.