Falling yellows leaves and the din of an airplane broke up the gray sky as Prophet Lahtrey Majors cried beside a metal pole outside Seaborn Lee Elementary School.
He and several others were there Thursday to commemorate the first school in the city of South Fulton with school zone speeding cameras. Leaders in the city of 100,000 residents has dedicated its efforts to stop school zone speeders after Majors’ daughter, 11-year-old Ren’gia Majors, who died in 2018 in a school zone crash.
Majors, a pastor in Riverdale, said his daughter was a “church girl” who helped everyone. “You don’t know what life will bring to you tomorrow, so don’t let my daughter’s (death) be in vain,” he said.
South Fulton Councilwoman Helen Willis said that by January, the city’s 16 schools will have speed cameras outside. They can record drivers going over the speed limit and mail offenders a fine after identifying their license plate numbers. The company, Blue Line Solutions, covers the cost of the devices and gets 35% of each fine.
Nearly two dozen othercities in metro Atlanta have started installing cameras after the state government passed House Bill 978 in 2018. The law lets speed cameras be used to ticket drivers in school zones as long as drivers are 10 mph over the speed limit while school zone lights are flashing. Drivers can technically be ticketed by an officer for only going 1 mph over the speed limit, so the cameras are more lenient.
The bill limits fines to $75 for the first offense and then $125 for all subsequent offenses. The fines are considered civil violations and will not add points to driver licenses.
All of the cameras in South Fulton will have a plaque with an etching of an angel and the name of Ren’gia, nicknamed “Momma” by her family for her love of preparing the family breakfast.
Her father remembers Feb. 2, 2018 being normal before his son called to say they’d been in a crash outside Sandtown Middle School and that Ren’gia was hurt.
“I felt the life leave my body,” Major recalled to the crowd at Seaborn on Thursday.
The speeder pleaded guilty in 2018. The driver of the car Ren’gia and her brother were riding in is still facing a homicide charge, according to South Fulton police spokesman Sgt. Jubal Rogers.
“This never needs to happen again,” said Mark Hutchinson, founder of Blue Line based in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
Hutchinson said a five-day study of the city’s schools showed there were 22,554 speeding violations within their zones.
A common complaint of these devices is that they’re money-making devices. But Hutchinson said that’s why they install flashing signs that show drivers their speed before they reach the camera so they have time to slow down.
Major said he takes peace in the fact that his daughter’s death might do some good. “I realize that we all have a purpose,” he said.
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