‘It makes me feel like Eli mattered’: Indianapolis Neighborhood pushes for change one year after tragic hit and run

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INDIANAPOLIS — On October 14, 2020, 1-year-old Eli Anders was killed and his ten-year-old sister injured in a hit and run crash on the city’s near southeast side. 

Thursday evening, one year after his death, family members are still looking for answers and change.

They gathered along Nelson Avenue, just feet from where the tragic crash took place to remember Eli at a candlelight vigil,  they hope something like this never happens again and they’re making sure it doesn’t. 

“I would like to see speed bumps. I’d like to see a lot of safety measures put in in Nelson,” Ariel Anderson, Eli’s mother said. “It gets a lot of traffic and there’s a lot of kids on this street. That play in the street, that ride their bikes in the street.”

It took a tragedy to begin to get traffic to slow down in the Bean Creek Neighborhood. After Eli’s death the Indianapolis Department of Public Works placed two new stop signs near the scene of the crash and a new four way stop a block or two away. 

They’ve also offered to paint stop bars on the street ahead of the signs if the neighborhood is interested. 

But the neighborhood association wants more. They say speed bumps are the answer. 

“If we can get that accomplished it really does make us feel like our city county counselors and also our leaders are hearing us and they’re trying to make our neighborhood safe,” Bean Creek Association Member Debbie Conway said. “I think you can either sit in your house or on your porch and complain or you can get involved and that’s just something that a big core group of us decided to do was get involved. We just worked his mother and agreed with her that we could do everything possible to try and get speed bumps on this street because they do fly by, pretty quickly.”

And they’ve got the signatures to back it up. 

According to the Indianapolis DPW, interested parties must fill out a ‘street change request’ form, where residents or neighborhood associations may request changes affecting their streets like parking changes, direction of travel, speed bumps and more. 

“Our team can look into whether speed bumps would be advisable at this location, though – per our street change policy, we look for 85% count of traffic driving at speeds greater than 35 miles per hour to warrant the introduction of speed bumps,” Indy DPW Representative Ben Easley said. “The recent addition of the four way stop likely keeps most cars from getting up to 35 miles per hour; we therefore don’t expect speed humps to be warranted per our policy, however, we left it open to the neighborhood if they wanted to demonstrate by petition that they’re still interested in this change.”

They are and have gathered signatures from, they believe, 75% of the area which would be influenced by the installation of speed bumps.

“It makes me feel like Eli mattered… he didn’t get to grow up or go to college or get married so he didn’t have a lot of people that knew him but it makes it feel like he mattered to someone other than just me,” Anders said. “I feel like the city’s known for a while that was a problem and finally the neighbors are willing to work together to kind of give them that push that says that they want the change too. I just want it to be safer for everybody’s kids so that someone else’s child doesn’t end up hurt or killed like my kids.”

Children like Darren Briski, who lives nearby. 

“People need to slow down and they really need to stop what they’re doing… they’re hurting people,” Darren said. “I see cars going fast and I yell at them, just slow down!”

The neighborhood which gathered to support Anders and her grieving family shared moments Thursday evening singing songs, shedding tears and proposing change. 

They hope the city takes their petition seriously. 

“I’m trying to find peace with whatever happens. Before I was so focused on that that I kinda lost myself to it,” Anders said. “He was just a baby but he’s gonna do something big here for everyone and keep everybody else’s kids safe. I wish people would just slow down. There’s no place that you have to be so quickly that it should cost someone their life.”

IMPD says they have no updates on the status of the investigation and have no new suspects despite surveillance footage of a vehicle speeding away from the scene. 

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