Boy's death leads to calls for speed bumps, safer streets in Dearborn Heights

A petition named Joey's Law is now circulating online
joey smith
Posted at 10:32 PM, Nov 02, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-02 23:15:26-04

DEARBORN HEIGHTS, Mich. (WXYZ) — The tragic death of a 12-year-old boy in Dearborn Heights has people in the community rallying for change.

Joey Smith was hit on the corner of Pardee Avenue and Annapolis Street on Oct. 15 while he was riding his bike home from an Annapolis High School football game.

His family and neighbors who live near the crash site say the area is dangerous because it's too dark and there are no speed bumps. It's directly across from Pardee Elementary School, where kids frequently play and ride their bikes.

Phillip Smith remembers the last conversation he had with his grandson Joey. They talked about college and his plans to attend a football game later in the day.

"That was the last time I saw him except lying on the street," Smith said.

When the game ended Joey biked home, but he never made it back.

A driver hit and killed him as he was crossing the street.

"It's upsetting to my daughter. She lost a child and also to the family that he was raised with," Smith said. "He's got uncles and aunts and a grandmother and we're all going through the same trauma."

A memorial now sits on the corner. Friends and family have left little mementos illustrating the 12-year-old's love for hockey and life.

"He would go camping with us, that's all going to be gone," Smith said. "He said, 'Can you buy me a kayak?' And so yeah, I bought him a kayak. Now that's gone — well he's gone and the kayak is still there."

Smith along with neighbors like Jessica Zacharski think Joey's death could have been prevented.

More than a decade ago, Zacharski was fighting for speed bumps and flashing signs. She says city council members were open to the idea but ultimately said it was not in the budget.

"It's always been a problem with cars speeding down this road and there's a bunch of children around here," she said. "It was only a matter of time until something happened."

A petition named Joey's Law is now circulating online with more than 3,200 signatures. It's calling on city officials to install speed bumps, signage and better lighting.

7 Action News reached out to Mayor Bill Bazzi's office and spoke with his assistant earlier in the day who told us he would call back. We called back three hours later and left a message. We have not received a response.

Police say speed was not a factor in Joey's death, but Smith thinks more safety additions might keep this from happening again.

"It will save another child's life, that's exactly what it would do hopefully," Smith said. "It's on the city right now. It's on their shoulders."

Joey's grandfather says he will keep fighting until these changes are made. He says so far, city officials have told him installing these safeguards is complicated.