CLEVELAND (WJW) — The hit-and-run death of a little girl in front of her home on Cleveland’s west side sparked action by the city to prevent other speed-related tragedies.

Apolina Asumani, 5, died last year after darting out between two cars in front of her home.

Cleveland installed a speed table where she was killed, as well as at more than a dozen other locations, as part of a pilot program last year and reports the effort to curtail speeding on residential streets is effective, reducing speed by 7.8 mph on average.

“We had been interested in piloting speed tables for some time, but her death and the pain of her family and really wanting to make sure that that doesn’t happen as much as it’s in the city’s power to prevent — it did help to accelerate implementation of the speed table pilot,” said city of Cleveland Senior Strategist for Transit and Mobility Calley Mersmann.

Mayor Justin Bibb’s administration requested $3 million in American Rescue Plan funding to expand the program. Cleveland City Council will review the proposal. If approved, 175 speed tables could be installed.

Mersmann said 14 speed tables were installed as part of the pilot program. Seventy-seven percent of respondents to a resident survey expressed support for additional speed tables, said Mersmann. 

The city of Cleveland recorded 19,000 serious injuries and deaths from traffic-related crashes between 2016 to 2020, and nearly half of the fatalities were related to speed.

“Last summer, we had at least two children killed, basically in front of their homes, from drivers,” Mersmann said. “We know that speed of vehicles is really correlated to the severity of injuries, especially when pedestrians are hit. So, the slower the drivers are going on streets, especially where there are kids playing in the front yard; people walking; people just living their lives; the safer those streets will be for our residents.”

Khadija White, who lives on West 50th Street where Asumani was killed, said prior to the speed table being installed, the street was like a “freeway”. She still tends to the memorial in honor of the little girl and said it serves as a reminder to drive slowly.

“That was a horrible day,” said White. “It’s like a reminder to slow down, because this is a residential neighborhood, and you need to slow down. … Watch out for the kids. You have to.”

Residents can nominate streets for consideration for additional speed tables on the city’s website.