The Geneva City Council voted unanimously to close a portion of Westville Avenue in the wake of an automobile crash that killed three Geneva High School cheerleaders Christmas evening.
According to city officials, the road is rarely traveled, and no homes are located in the area. The homes were destroyed by a flood in the 1960s.
According to Geneva police Lt. Michael McDuffie, preliminary reports indicate speeding played a role in the wreck that killed Cassidy Dunn, Emilee Fain and Addyson Martin, all 16, and critically injured one other passenger. A fifth occupant in the vehicle was treated for minor injuries at a local hospital and released.
McDuffie recently told the Dothan Eagle that based on the damage to the vehicle, the vehicle was traveling at a high rate of speed. Martin was identified as the driver. The three people killed in the wreck were not wearing seat belts when the vehicle left the road and ran into a wooded area off Westville Avenue around 6 p.m. Dec. 25. The back seat passengers, Emilee’s sister, Mollie Fain, and Emma Justice, were wearing seat belts.
“The speed limit assigned to the area where the wreck occurred is 25 mph,” he said. “The driver was traveling well over the posted speed limit.”
“The main purpose of closing this portion of the roadway is to prevent any other teenagers from traveling the area for thrills,” Geneva Mayor Frankie Lindsey said about the council’s decision on Monday night. “We want all of our children to travel safe, and we believe this is the best solution for that road.”
Lindsey, who is a former Geneva police chief, said he had no idea teenagers were using the area for thrill seeking.
“I was a police chief for more than 20 years here, and until these young ladies were killed, I had no idea,” he said. “I bet we also have parents in the area who have no idea that this was going on. We don’t want any other families to hurt like these families are hurting.”
The city will order specially designed gates for the road closure, which city workers plan to install. The gates will prevent motorists from traveling the hump from Highway 27 and the east side of the levee.
The city also will install speed bumps on River Street where it crosses the levee by Robert Fowler Park.
“I don’t have an exact time frame of when the gate will arrive,” Lindsey said. “However, until the gate arrives, police will increase their patrols in the area.
“Right now, we still have several people visiting the area to pay their respects at the girls’ memorial site. However, after the gate is installed, visitors will have to walk to the memorial site. The memorial site will be located behind the gated area.”
With the portion of Westville Avenue being closed, the city hopes to see a huge decrease in trash being dumped in the area as well.
“This road closure will serve two purposes,” Linsey said. “Not only will it prevent any other teenagers or motorists driving the area looking for thrills, but it will also eliminate the trash being dumped in the area. Over time, the amount of trash dumped in that area has increased tremendously, so this will hopefully address that issue as well.”