Light being installed where Lakeland teen died

- The parents and neighbors of a boy killed crossing the street on his way to school demanded change and it came in the form of a street light.

Kalen Kirk was killed last week when he was hit by a Polk County Sheriff's Office cruiser, driven by the county’s crossing guard supervisor.

It was still dark when Kalen died on Clubhouse Road in South Lakeland.

People were outraged that there was not a street light there. It’s a bittersweet win because many say it’s long overdue, but it’s a win nonetheless.

At a vigil in her son’s honor, Kalen’s mom, Tiffany Criss made an emotional plea.

"Do not let my son, our son, die in vain," she said to the crowd gathered near where Kalen died.

She and others wanted the county to install a streetlight, put in sidewalks, and do whatever it takes to make the road safer.

Polk County gave a green light to the light.

"I am very excited. It is a shame that it has taken this. All the parents feel that way,” explained neighbor Jhoanna Lunetta.

Residents said they have complained to the county in the past about the stretch of Clubhouse Road where Kalen was killed, but the county didn't act until tragedy struck.

Matthew Moskowitz, who went to  school with Kaylen at George Jenkins High, said, "hopefully this will be a big improvement."

Kalen and his mother moved to south Lakeland just weeks before he died. Kalen's dad, who was at his son's funeral back home in Kansas, said, at least it is a step in the right direction.

He told FOX 13 News, "one light is not what were interested in. We want more than that."

Polk Commissioner George Lindsey, who supported the first light, is on the same page.

When asked if additional lights and sidewalks should go in on clubhouse road, he said, ‘yes,’ adding, “And as a community we're going to find it challenging how to accommodate that." 

Where money for more lights will come from has yet to be determined. A street light costs less than $500, plus the monthly electric bill.

The county said it will meet with Lakeland Electric Monday to work out details. No word when the first light is going to be up and running, but the county said it will definitely be fast-tracked.

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