Teen’s death prompts safety improvements at dangerous intersection

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SAN DIEGO -- Almost one year after a teenage skateboarder was fatally struck by a hit-and-run driver, San Diego officials Friday highlighted safety improvements on a busy City Heights thoroughfare.

The upgrades on 54th Street near Lea Street include new bike lanes, crosswalks and medians, according to Councilwoman Marti Emerald's office.

Jonathan Cortez, 15, died after he somehow ended up on the ground in a lane on 54th Street and was run over by a vehicle that failed to stop. Witnesses saw Cortez riding his skateboard just before he was hit.

The driver of a green minivan contacted police a couple of days later but was not arrested at the time.

Emerald said the crash prompted area residents to advocate for safety improvements along busy 54th Street.

"All of us were affected emotionally by what happened to Jonathan and we were all looking for ways to make this corridor safer,'' Emerald said. "I think it will be far safer now than it was, but everybody still needs to watch out for everybody else."

"We know that Jonathan's short life will make a difference in the lives of others and make this community safer,

Cortez's mother, Veronica, told FOX 5 that she is happy about the safety improvements, but she said that no one should have to suffer the loss of a child, especially if it can be prevented.