Neighbors fight for four-way stop after traffic fatality

Queen Anne resident Mary Katica Aylward, 83, was killed Aug. 11 in a traffic accident at the intersection of Sixth Avenue West and West Blaine Street.

The stepmother of actor John Aylward was eastbound on Blaine when her Subaru Forester was hit by a southbound Subaru Forester which witnesses say "may have been speeding," said police spokesman Jeff Kappel.

The driver of the southbound Subaru, a 24-year-old man, was not injured, Kappel added. The impact forced the man's SUV to hit a street sign, and it came to rest against a BMW, Kappel said. The accident is still under investigation, he said.

Nearby residents say it's not the first time someone has died in a car wreck at that intersection, and they are urging the Seattle Department of Transportation to install four-way stop signs so that it doesn't happen again.

Michael Venables is one of them. He knew Aylward, who was also a friend of his mother, Venables said. "I came out just after they removed the body." The other driver was a young father who had just dropped off his children and was going to work, Venables said.

Sixth West is a de facto arterial, and there are visibility issues at the intersection with Blaine, he said.

There is also a problem with speeding vehicles, according to an e-mail from William Graf, whose parked BMW was hit in the accident. "As a resident on this corner," he wrote, "I have witnessed a daily occurrence of speeds in excess of 60 miles per hour and have seen a few over 100 mph." Graf is convinced that a four-way stop at the intersection could have prevented the accident that killed Aylward.

Venables agrees. "The community is pulling together to prevent this happening again," he said. Flyers have also been posted in the neighborhood urging people to call the Seattle Department of Transportation about the stop signs.

The move worked. "We've gotten a lot of calls about it," said SDOT spokesman Greg Hirakawa. "We take all these (calls) seriously." But he also said the area doesn't have a high accident rate. "I think it's about one fender-bender a year."

And four-way stop signs might not work, according to Hirakawa. People tend to run stop signs if the signs are in places people don't expect one to be, he said.

Still, SDOT is going to investigate the situation. "Generally speaking, we're looking at traffic speeds and traffic volumes," Hirakawa said. "We'll see what we see." SDOT staff members also plan to meet with neighborhood resident next week, he added.

The attention will be welcome, according to Venables. "I think people are scared," he said of the busy street. "People are feeling it's not safe, people are afraid for their kids."

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