Gail Shelley speaks with Auburn police Sgt. Chad Syphers, right, after a 2010 Chevrolet Cobalt slid into the side of her house Tuesday at 301 Gamage Ave. Police Chief Jason Moen said the operator of the vehicle, Gretchen Heckler, 18, of Georgia was “unfamiliar with the area and was not paying attention when she realized the intersection was approaching.” Minimal damage was done to the front porch, according to Auburn firefighters at the scene. Moen said the operator was cited for failing to stop at a stop sign. (Sun Journal photo by Daryn Slover)

AUBURN — Since Gail Shelley installed a surveillance system two years ago at her house on Gamage Avenue, she has recorded — and published to Facebook — 98 videos of drivers running stop signs at a nearby intersection.

But it was the most recent video of the intersection — at Park Avenue, Lake Street and Gamage Avenue — that grabbed the most attention and, Shelley said, was the closest call.

The video, which Shelley said had been viewed more than 13,000 times as of Tuesday night, shows a red sedan fail to stop and careen sideways into her front porch, pushing the stop sign into her yard and throwing the street sign onto her porch.

Shelley said her husband was on the couch recovering from surgery when he heard a bang from outside.

“He looked out the window and the sign came flying up on the porch,” she said. “Another 3 feet and it would be in the living room. It was pretty scary.”

Luckily, Shelley said, no one was hurt in the accident. But last summer, she recorded a crash where a woman was injured when a car blew through the intersection. Later, Shelley said, she was asked to send the video of the accident to the woman’s attorney.

“It’s literally every day you see two or three cars that don’t stop at all,” she said.

Based on her surveillance videos, Shelley said, most crashes occur from one direction: Vehicles coming down Park Street, headed toward Walmart, often do not see the stop sign.

She said she has lived at her home for 23 years, and there has always been a stop sign at the intersection. Two years ago, however, the city repaved the road, added crosswalks and pushed the stop signs back.

“They moved it back so far that when you stop at the stop sign, you can’t see cars coming,” she said.

Shelley said she has recently taken to tagging the mayor in her videos in an effort to address the intersection. She said she has had some response from Auburn police, who sat in her yard over the summer and pulled over a few drivers for running the sign.

“They were out here for an hour, and they didn’t make it to CVS before there was an accident and they had to turn around,” she said.

Shelley said the Auburn Public Works Department, which she recorded running the stop sign during a snowstorm in December, recently suggested putting orange flags on the signs to make them more visible. She said that has not happened yet.

According to an email from Mayor Jason Levesque, “the area is very much on [the city’s] radar and has been for several months. … The city has made several improvements to the area with regards to signage and traffic slowing measures.”

Levesque said the town recently installed radar-enabled speed monitors to slow traffic as it enters the intersection, while improvements to Lake Street have also helped reduced the speed of traffic.

“All these efforts have helped improve overall safety,” Levesque wrote. “What I am seeing is an increase in use of our roads by folks from away who do not have the knowledge of the traffic pattern.”

“While I am not qualified to itemize what these next steps are, I feel confident that the City Council and staff will be having additional conversations on this topic in the future.”

In an email, Auburn Police Chief Jason Moen wrote the Police Department is aware of the cars not stopping at the intersection, and patrols the area “as staffing and call volume allow.”

“There are over 900 intersections within the city, and our officers diligently work to ensure compliance with motor vehicle laws,” Moen wrote.

Shelley said she would like to see more changes to the intersection.

“I’d love to see them put a flashing red light in all directions to make people aware,” she said.

In the meantime, however, Shelley said she will continue to post videos.

“Everyone is telling me to keep posting because it gets people more aware when you see it on video,” she said.

And she said her videos have raised her friends’ awareness, some of whom did not even know there is a stop sign at the intersection.

Shelley said her focus on “her” intersection will not go away anytime soon, especially given heavy foot traffic there from children, walkers and joggers.

“People don’t realize how dangerous it is, and that’s my biggest worry,” she said. “We’re just afraid we’re going to catch someone being killed.”


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