ST. LOUIS (KTVI) – An emotional vigil was held in Downtown St. Louis Tuesday night, as mourners of two pedestrians killed by hit and run drivers on South Broadway called for increased safety measures.
The vigil was held exactly one month after Bapi Gupta, 50, was hit by a speeding Mercedes as he left the Broadway Oyster Bar.
Gupta died a week after the accident. Two teenagers have since been charged in the case.
Some in the crowd at the vigil were also there to remember Amber Wood, 27, killed in 2012 by a hit and run driver also on South Broadway.
The mothers of both victims are asking the city to change several things they believe will make South Broadway safer for pedestrians and cyclists, including better lighting and more crosswalks.
Earlier Tuesday, they met with Ward Seven Alderman Jack Coatar, who told them the city is already working on getting brighter LED lighting and adding more parking meters to narrow the street forcing drivers to slow down. The city will also be adding a crosswalk on South Broadway at Cerre Street.
‘Our position is we need no more victims,’ said Genie Dee, Gupta`s mother. ‘We need the city to take pedestrian and bicyclist`s safety seriously.
Coatar said the city does take it seriously and that he and the Mayor`s office are working on legislation to change the law at crosswalks.
‘In the near future, we hope to have some legislation about stopping for pedestrians versus yielding,’ Coatar said.
As part of the city`s recently revised Complete Streets policy, traffic data is supposed to be used to identify places especially dangerous for pedestrians and cyclists and come up with improvements.
To that end, the city has also created a new position; a bicycle and pedestrian coordinator. The job is posted on the city`s website right now.
Gupta`s mother has started a website of her own to keep people informed about the movement for safer streets. It is www.BAPI.net.
And she says even though her home is in Northern California, she intends to continue fighting for safer streets in St. Louis.
‘I guess you have to attribute it to a mother`s grief. My son is gone, no amount of money and no amount of punishment will bring him back,’ Dee said.
‘It`s the only thing we can do as a legacy for our children is to make the street safer so that no other family has to go through this.