It was dusk Sunday, about the time when streetlights across the city flicker on, when a Chevrolet pickup truck barreled up a St. Claude neighborhood street and struck a 2-year-old boy, killing him.
But on several blocks of North Claiborne Avenue, including where the hit-and-run happened, some lights were not on.
Neighbors in the area said they have tried for years to have the issue resolved. Their efforts have been largely unsuccessful.
“The block is pitch black” at night, said Albertnesha Glover, 16, whose son, Christian, died at Interim LSU Hospital after being struck about 5:15 p.m. Sunday in the 3100 block of North Claiborne.
Hattie Matthews, who has lived in the neighborhood since 1978, said she has called the city’s “help line” for three years trying to get some of the lights repaired.
Repairs have been made every so often, she said, but they never last long. Her most recent requests for work have produced no action, she said.
The light immediately across the street from where Christian was struck has been out for about three years, Matthews said. Another light down the block alternates between working and not working.
A light in the 3200 block — the only other one in the two-block stretch — is never on, they said.
“It’s not enough light,” Matthews said, adding that concerns about the lack of illumination involve not just avoiding traffic accidents but remaining safe in general.
Many people in the immediate area say they work at night and pull up to homes on a street that is so dark they do not feel safe.
“To me, it’s frustrating,” she said. “I don’t know who’s lurking. This avenue needs much more lighting, especially for safety.”
Jerome Johnson, another neighbor, said after the accident that he has called the city several times to report the burned-out or malfunctioning lights but has never received a response. The lights have been out since 2009, he said.
One question Glover and Matthews asked was why some of the lights in the neighborhood have been replaced with LED units while the stretch in front of their home was apparently bypassed.
The city is in the process of using $14.7 million from Entergy New Orleans to convert old streetlights into energy-efficient LED units on the east bank of Orleans Parish.
City Hall did not make anyone available for an interview Wednesday.
“We’d like to see some street lighting out here — as bright as they can get it,” Matthews said.
Police said Wednesday that they had no new leads on who might have hit Christian and fled.
Since Tuesday, officers have kept a more vigilant eye on the avenue.
By Wednesday evening, they had issued 54 citations at North Claiborne and Clouet Street, near where Sunday’s accident happened.
The citations included:
- 38 for speeding.
- 5 for seat belt violations.
- 11 for nonhazards, such as not having appropriate vehicle documentation.
Police continue to search for a white, two-door, older-model Chevrolet Silverado that hit the toddler and for its driver. Anyone with information is asked to contact fatality investigator Edgar Edwards at (504) 658-6208.
Follow Danny Monteverde on Twitter, @DCMonteverde.