RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Samuel Briggs placed flowers on a pair of pink Converse sneakers Sunday morning.
Briggs said the shoes were a gift to his daughter Samantha Briggs, on her 12th birthday — just a day before she was hit and killed while trying to cross Hillsborough Street about a year ago.
“That was my daughter… I can’t explain, I loved her to death. That was my daughter,” said Briggs.
The driver never stopped, according to police. Officers arrested the hit-and-run suspect, 27-year-old Blanca Escobar-Roblero, months later.
Her husband, 26-year-old Wilmer Morales-Roblero, was also arrested for charges including trying to destroy evidence and burning the car.
Briggs has held onto the pain and continues to ask questions.
“She could have been saved had they of gotten out of the car and checked on her, they could have saved her life,” Briggs said.
The 12-year-old’s great aunt, Sylvia Wiggins, said she and others are asking for drivers to be more aware behind the wheel, and asking lawmakers and city leaders to improve road safety, especially for people walking and riding bikes.
“I never thought I’d be putting flowers on her grave. She just turned 12 years old… That’s the most hurtful thing I’ve had to witness in my entire life,” Wiggins said. “People in charge need to get these places where they’re having all these accidents and something really needs to be done.”
Samantha’s shoes were placed by several others in front of the State Capitol Sunday morning to represent the 1,784 people who were killed on North Carolina roads last year. Another 5,262 were seriously injured.
The gathering was part of several events that were held across the U.S. to commemorate World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims. Families of victims and road safety advocates continue to push for safer roads and to highlight the high number of roadway deaths each year. Organizers said many of these deaths could have been prevented.
Briggs said too many drivers are not paying attention and streets are often too dark.
“I hate to say this — Samantha wasn’t the first and she’s not going to be the last on that street right there until they get some lights out there.”
Those in attendance hope to see those in charge take action that includes more funding for road and pedestrian safety projects. They also hope drivers will do their part to prioritize safety over speed.