Alex Johnson was familiar with the intersection of Lambright Street and Florida Avenue in Old Seminole Heights, but that familiarity wasn't enough to save her life.
It was May 7 when Johnson, 27, came to the stop sign at Lambright heading west and needed to turn left onto Florida Avenue. She looked and pulled out, only to have her blue Infiniti . The driver of the SUV would sustain minor injuries, but Johnson would arrive at St. Joseph's Hospital already dead.
Alex left behind her Durant High school sweetheart and husband, David Johnson, a number of cats that she rescued and a heartbroken family. And her death is drawing attention to an area along Florida Avenue that residents say is due for change.
Johnson's fatal crash wasn't the first at that intersection. Over the past seven years, Tampa Police have responded to 16 crashes there, about a quarter of which involved injuries. The problems causing the danger come down to visibility and the speed of oncoming traffic, residents say.
"When you're sitting at that stop sign, there is a business on the left with a fence that hugs the sidewalk, and it makes difficult to see the traffic before it comes zooming by," Seminole Heights resident Chanteal Murphy said. "I can see how that accident can happen very easily."
The fence at causes the westbound driver a problem, residents say, in that in order to see oncoming traffic throroughly before pulling out, one would have to scoot the nose of a car out beyond the stop line and into the intersection. The auto body shop did not respond to messages left by a Patch reporter.
Though the posted speed limit on Florida Avenue is 40 mph, oncoming traffic is often moving upwards of 50 mph, leaving little time for either driver to react.
The solution is simple in Murphy's eyes.
"The city needs to ask that business to move the fence back away from the sidewalk to increase visibility," Murphy said. "I live on Lambright, but I won't go to that intersection, I use the light on Hanna. But that light doesn't have a sensor, so you end up sitting there for long periods of time. I see why people don't want to use that light, so if they aren't going to ask the business to move the fence, they should put a timer at the light on Hanna."
Johnson's family can't believe the danger posed by the intersection, and they voiced their displeasure in a e-mail to City Councilman Charlie Miranda.
"People have said that maybe some good will come of this, if the city makes those intersections safer," said Alex's aunt, Jennifer Gudelis, in an email to Patch. "I will never believe that there is 'good' to be found in Alex's death, but it also shouldn't go on like this. People have mentioned six fatal accidents in seven years and many more nonfatal ones at several of the Florida Avenue intersections in the Old Seminole Heights neighborhood. How many casualties are acceptable?"
That message was echoed by others from the Seminole Heights area and did not fall on deaf ears, according to Miranda's legislative aide, Mary Bryan. The city has an open investigation looking into possible improvements to the Florida Avenue corridor in Seminole Heights.
"Every single council member got the e-mails, and naturally we turned to the Department of Transportation," Bryan said. "We've been advised that there is an open investigation looking into that section of Florida Avenue."
What that investigation will yield or when it will be concluded was not made clear.
Alex's father, Army Special Forces Col. Duke Christie, flew home from Afghanistan to bury his only child. It has left him with only the glowing memory of his little girl, whose presence and sense of humor once filled any room she walked into.
"If any good can come out of this terrible affair it would be to save some other family the grief and anguish we are experiencing by fixing the situation on Florida Avenue," Christie said in an email to Patch. "The facts are still being resolved, but it seems clear that my daughter was killed due a combination of a speeding driver and what may be an inherently dangerous road. Since this was apparently just one of many similar accidents that have occurred on that road, it is time for people to take action before the next fatal crash."