Crime & Courts
Homeowner frustrated after house hit five times in two years
A Tampa woman is frustrated that the state Department of Transportation cannot help her after her house near a busy ramp for Interstate 275 has been hit by vehicles five times in two years. Leyla Aponte and her husband bought the house on West La Salle Street for her mother and sick sister, but soon after moving in they knew they had a problem. "A month after my mother moved in, the first car crash happened," Aponte said. "Sometime after that the second car crash happened," Aponte said. "And that one landed on the attached apartment."And to make matters worse, as she was showing a contractor what needed to be repaired, it happened a fourth time right in front of her. "I was just showing the area to a concrete worker because we were going to fix the whole area," she said. "He destroyed everything, he landed in the apartment," Aponte said. She even took photos of the crash, driver and emergency workers. The contractor left and would not come back. "Since there is no barrier, the fifth car crash happened right here," she said, motioning in front of the house. She has called and emailed the Florida Department of Transportation. "They send their engineers, they do an evaluation, and they just come up with the same answers," she said. FDOT says the problem is a traffic light and irresponsible drivers. "Right now we are looking at additional signage, working with law enforcement in trying to make sure that people see that signal," said Kris Carson of the FDOT. Aponte wants some stanchions, posts anchored in the ground, like those seen in front of some convenience stores. But Carson says those changes likely would not work. "A guardrail or any kind of stanchions is not necessarily going to stop a car and a lot of the time, like the guardrail especially, is designed to deflect a car so it could wind up killing or injuring a driver," Carson said. "There's not enough room to put something and we could hurt someone by doing that." Aponte says she is worried that if something is not done, someone could be hurt or killed in her home. "I don't let my kids stay in the backyard for no reason," she said. The FDOT says new construction will begin soon on that section of I-275, which will hopefully bring a new traffic light and better signs to fix the problem.
News Channel 8 reporter Jeff Patterson contributed to this report.