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Crash Victim’s Death Sparks Gate Debate In Pembroke Pines

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Community leaders are asking gates be removed after a woman was killed because she had to take an alternate route. (Source: CBS4)

Community leaders are asking gates be removed after a woman was killed because she had to take an alternate route. (Source: CBS4)

David-Sutta-600x450 David Sutta
David Sutta joined the CBS4 news team in April of 2007. As S...
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South Florida Crime

PEMBROKE PINES (CBSMiami) – There are three small gates that divide the town of Southwest Ranches and Pembroke Pines.  And over the past two decades, these same three gates have been the source of controversy and debate.

“When we all moved out here we were assuming it was going to be a small country road. A small country road,” Southwest Ranches resident Don Roberts told CBS4.

Roberts who has lived on one the divided streets since 1979 has watched the controversy debate cycle over the years.  Most who live on the roadways of 199th, 202nd, and 205th avenue are okay with the gates—especially those who remember when they were not there. They describe that the roadway was somewhat of a residential highway.

“The volume of traffic—up to a 1000 cars including trucks a day, couldn’t back out of the driveway in the morning time.” Mike Dougherty said.

Dougherty lives on the Pembroke Pines side of the gate.  He said it didn’t matter which side of the fence you were on, things were bad, “School buses were cutting through. The post office.” Roberts added.

Southwest Ranches put up the gates and the traffic problems all changed. The streets were once again open for kids to play. In a neighborhood without sidewalks Dougherty was happy.

“Definitely for the gate and appreciate everything Southwest Ranches did in putting up the gates.” Doughtery said.

But not everyone agrees.  Family and Friends of Maritza Medina, who was killed when a suspect was fleeing cops crashed into her car on Wednesday morning on U-S 27, blame the gates for putting her in harm’s way.

Jon Tholen, Medina’s neighbor said, “I think she’d be alive today if those gates weren’t here she would have come down 205th like she normally would have and would have never been part of that accident.”

Pembroke Pines is actually building a new road to fix the gate debate but it won’t be ready for at least three more months.

On Friday, Pembroke Pines Mayor Frank Ortis said he tried to get a temporary fix.

“I wrote a letter to the mayor of Southwest Ranches saying in light of this horrific accident is it possible that we reopen these gates until we get our road open, which would be about three months. The answer I got is we are mourning the horrific accident and death of Maritza Medina,” Ortis said.

In other words, Southwest Ranches is not removing the gates. Upon hearing the news Dougherty said he was ok with it.  “Very good. yeah.”  Many of the residents along 199th avenue seemed to believe the gate had nothing to do with the crash.  Roberts sympathized with the family but didn’t see the two are connected.

“No I don’t. I think a man who lost control of himself and his emotions. That could have happened anywhere. I don’t think the road had to be an issue or the woman driving,” Roberts said.

We wanted to reach out to Southwest Ranches, particularly Mayor Jeff Nelson, but for two days he hasn’t returned CBS4′s calls.  At least for now it appears the status quo will remain.

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