Deputies say Jacob Hamilton, 18, was killed when his vehicle was blind sided by a semi. His family -- still reeling from the tragedy -- is determined to make the intersection safer for drivers.
"I'm totally devastated," says Lowell Hogston, Hamilton's stepfather. "It's our only child, our baby." Hogston is dealing with every parent's greatest fear. In the coming weeks, he will bury his son. Hamilton was a senior at South Spencer High School.
"His heart was as big as the world. If someone was hurting, he wanted to know why and he hurt with him," says Hogston, his voice full of emotion. "Now my son is sitting down here at Boutinghouse [Funeral Home]. I just went to see him, and it's pretty tough right now."
Hogston says the depth of his grief in the wake of losing his son is too deep for words. Now the father -- a professional driver himself -- is determined to protect other lives from being cut short by making the deadly intersection safer.
"This intersection is one of my biggest fears as a driver," says Hogston. "[INDOT] needs to get us a light down here, a traffic light at school intersections and a caution light to let us know when the switch is going to trip." Hogston says semi drivers need a caution light to warn them when intersections are approaching so they have a better opportunity to slow down their trucks. He says he won't be at ease until he knows protections are put in place to ensure other South Spencer students don't share his son's fate.
Hours after that crash community members and county officials started circulating an online and paper petition to get a stoplight installed at the intersection. They say the county's previous attempts to get INDOT to install a traffic light at the intersection have been fruitless. Tara Lloyd, the Spencer County Highway Engineer, says she has sent two formal requests to INDOT -- begging for the state to put a traffic light in front of South Spencer High School. Lloyd says the state has denied the requests, saying the traffic counts at the intersection are too low to meet the minimum requirements for a stop light.
Now Lloyd and Natasha Boyer, who started an online petition, hope strength in numbers will encourage the state to make an exception. The online petition was created around 4 p.m. Tuesday -- it already has close to 500 signatures.
Lloyd says she will send the signatures to the state when she sends a third formal request for a traffic light. You can find the online petition by clicking here.