STAMFORD, Conn. -- City and school officials promised there will be safety improvements in place in front of Stamford High beginning Monday after the tragic death of a student killed while crossing the street last Saturday.
Karina Tinajero of 1425 Bedford St., died hours after she was struck by a van while she was crossing Strawberry Hill Avenue at 7:30 a.m. Saturday on her way to take the SAT test. She was a senior.
The first step is a new crosswalk on Strawberry Hill directly in front of Stamford High's front entrance. Tinajero was struck in that area, which students frequently use. The crosswalk will be ready for Monday, and there will be a police presence at the scene, city officials said during a press conference Thursday.
Two of her friends — 10th-grader Mariana Jimenez and 11th-grader Fabio Luco, both of whom were at the press conference — said students cross the street in front of the school even though there is no crosswalk or crossing guard. It is the quickest and easiest way to get to the school, the said.
Luco said using the crosswalk down the street, where five streets intersect — Strawberry Hill Avenue, Hillandale Avenue, Prospect Street, Hoyt Street and Grove Street — is too busy and too far away.
"It's not very convenient," he said. "It's complicated. There are too many cars; you don't know where to look."
Jimenez remembered her friend fondly, saying Tinajero was always willing to help others and was a very involved member of the school community.
"She would always say hi with a smile to everyone," Jimenez said.
Along with the crosswalk, there will be school zone signs, yield to pedestrian stanchions, variable message signs to warn drivers they are in a school area and "Slow School" pavement markings.
Officials hope there will be traffic signals installed at the crosswalk next year but said that needs state approval.
Dave Avery, president of the Strawberry Hill Neighbors Association, welcomed the increased safety steps. He said the association has long expressed concerns about traffic in the area.
"I think it is just excellent. It's more than we were expecting," Avery said.
Stamford Traffic Engineer Robert Zaitooni said the city is also considering moving the student drop-off area to the rear of the building. It is currently on Strawberry Hill Avenue.
"There is a perfectly good drop-off zone in the back," he said. "What we are trying to do is make it attractive enough for people to use it."
Stamford High Principal Raymond Manka said it has been a tough week for students and staff at the school after Tinajero's death. "She is dearly missed and will always be a part of our Stamford High School Black Knight family," he said.
A memorial was held for her at the school earlier in the week, and flowers and a Mexican flag remained at the flagpole on the school's property. He said the school is establishing a Karina Tinajero Memorial Scholarship that will go to a high-achieving English Language Learning student who wants to attend college.