Community mourns loss of teen while calling for improved safety at ‘dangerous’ intersection

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BATES CITY, Mo. -- Neighbors in Lafayette County blame an intersection they call “dangerous” for the loss of another life. On Tuesday afternoon, it was a teenager struck by another driver, and residents want the area to be made safer.

On a windy February afternoon, a small town mourns the loss of one of its best and brightest. Family members say Arron Specker, 17, was driving to his after-school job. When he turned north onto Missouri Highway Z, another car t-boned his four-door sedan. Missouri Highway Patrol officers pronounced Specker dead at the scene.

“This is a terrible accident. Someone else has lost their life here,” Ronnie Steelman, local farmer and a friend of Specker’s family, said.

Steelman and Pastor Paula Isgrig knew Arron personally. Steelman says he'd known the Odessa High School junior since he was a tot.

“There are no words to describe what his mom is going through right now. It's a terrible tragedy,” Steelman said. “There's no heartache like losing a child.”

A report from the Missouri Highway Patrol says 49-year-old Lisa Eaton was driving the car that hit Specker. Her husband, Jimmy, says Lisa couldn't see Specker's car when she came down the hill on Highway Z. Pastor Isgrig agrees visibility at the intersection is poor.

“If you look both ways, and you look there again, that car can still come up from the hill, and there wouldn't be anything,” Pastor Isgrig said.

The intersection is a two-way stop, which is, in part, obscured by a sharp rise in the hill going southbound on Highway Z. Northbound travelers on that same stretch of road say it’s hard to see traffic over the rise as the two roads meet.

“You can see north fine, but when you look south, there's just enough of a crest of a hill, you can't see over that,” Steelman said.

Three neighbors told FOX 4 News they've witnessed a lot of crashes here. One of them said she'd asked local leaders to make this a four-way stop instead of a two-way, but nothing's changed. Another resident living near the crash site said his own child survived a bicycle accident there. Others say they're fearful that without some changes, there may be more wrecks.

Odessa High School released a statement expressing its condolences to Specker’s loved ones. The family is still finalizing their son's funeral plans.

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