SALEM, Ore. (KOIN) — Two years of advocacy and effort have paved the way for a new crosswalk in Salem. Friends and family of Shatamera Pruden gathered to celebrate the achievement on Saturday, and to honor the teen who was killed at that very intersection while she was trying to cross the road.
The ceremony was held at 5:55 p.m. in remembrance of the exact moment 14-year-old Shatamera lost her life at the corner of Commercial Street and Royvonne Avenue. Dozens of people attended to share in her memory.
“She was a huge light,” said Julianne Jackson, a family friend.
The high school freshman was trying to cross that very stretch of road on July 3, 2017 when she was hit and killed. She wasn’t in a legal crosswalk, but another car had stopped and waved her across. The other driver didn’t see her in time.
“When you tell someone they have the right of way, and they do not, this is what happens,” said Jackson.
That right of way became a focus for Shatamera’s mother, Elizabeth Pruden. Since her daughter’s death, she has led the charge to improve pedestrian laws, and create better crosswalks and signs. She started with the place that took her child.
On Saturday, at the exact same time that Shatamera walked across the unmarked street, Elizabeth did so as well. Only this time, she walked across the newly painted roadway. This was the crosswalk she lobbied the City of Salem to construct.
“This is for you baby,” Elizabeth said as she walked.
Holding her daughter’s ashes close, she took the first steps across. The signs offered drivers a reminder of what’s at stake.
“Three seconds of beating a GPS, swerving in traffic—it’s not worth a life,” said Elizabeth.
Months of hard work now gave way to reassurance that a step in the right direction was made.
“I know this is a legacy Shatamera would want,” said Elizabeth. “She will be forever remembered and every person who is protected there will know that she’s watching over them. Thank you.”
Elizabeth said she plans to continue advocating for pedestrian safety, and hopes to bring her efforts to Portland next.