A Cape Coral family is hoping to prevent another tragedy by using memorial contributions for a lost loved one to enhance safety on a section of road.
The family of Alexie Rai Krill has set up a memorial fund where people can make contributions and donations in Krill's memory. Krill, 24, died Saturday after she drove into a canal off of Beach Parkway and Surfside Boulevard.
The plan is to use the collected money to pay for a protective barrier at the intersection.
Alexie Rai Krill
"We live in this area. We know hers is not the first (fatal accident)," Krill's mother, Kristie Hilbert, said Thursday. "We just don't want it to happen again."
At 10:13 a.m. Saturday, a person out walking observed tire scuff marks at the intersection and some disturbed brush on the canal embankment. Police responded and found that a vehicle had left the road and entered the canal.
Krill apparently was traveling west on Beach Parkway when she ran a stop sign at Surfside and continued through the intersection. She drove off of the road and embankment, entering the water. Krill was unable to exit the vehicle.
Her family thinks she was knocked unconscious during the accident.
"We really truly believe she was knocked unconscious and couldn't get out," Hilbert said, explaining that the intersection has always been a concern.
"I've had nightmares about going into that canal in that corner," she said.
Hilbert's children have been instructed on what to do in a situation involving a submerged vehicle, and each has an emergency tool that breaks windows.
"We always talked about how you have to let the car fill up - we went through all of the steps," she said. "And then it actually happened."
A company has volunteered to construct the barrier and put it up, but the family needs guidance on how to get the project started and completed.
"So we do it right, and it gets done," Hilbert said.
One official has already stepped forward to help. Councilmember Chris Chulakes-Leetz told the family that the issue would not go unaddressed.
"I have experience with this exact situation," he said, "under nearly the same identical circumstances."
In October 2005, his future stepson was traveling south on Surfside when he came upon Beach and drove into the canal. He died at 21. Reflective signs that are usually posted in the area were down due to Hurricane Wilma.
Chulakes-Leetz went before the city's Transportation Advisory Committee the next year in an attempt to have something done at the intersection.
"Nothing was ever done," he said.
"My main goal as a City Council member today is we won't disregard the issue," Chulakes-Leetz said.
As of Thursday, he had gotten the issue put on the TAC's October agenda.
"At that time, I hope to receive an initial presentation by staff as to permanent solutions that will not only correct the problem, but will also create an environmentally friendly appearance," Chulakes-Leetz said.
According to Hilbert, there is a stop sign and a caution sign at the intersection, along with a set of "flimsy" plastic barrier sticks.
"That's all that's there," she said.
Hilbert wants to see a solid barrier constructed and would like rumble strips installed along the sides of the road to alert drivers when they leave it.
"We want something that's very sturdy down there that will stop a car from going into the canal," she said, adding, "I want everything we can get."
The family is planning to set up the memorial fund at a bank. During the interim, people can contribute to the "Alexie Krill Memorial Fund" through Mullins Memorial Funeral Home, which handled the funeral arrangements.
"We're taking it one day at a time," Hilbert said.
Krill was born July 6, 1988, in Bryan, Ohio. She had been a Cape resident since 1996, attending Gulf Elementary, Gulf Middle and Mariner High schools. She had attended Florida Gulf Coast University before switching colleges.
"She had just transferred and was starting her first semester at the University of Central Florida," Hilbert said.
Her daughter was studying art history.
"She loved art," Hilbert said. "She was really talented, even though she wouldn't say she was."
Krill is survived by her mother and stepfather, Kristie (Jon) Hilbert; father and stepmother, Bruce (Robin) Krill of Bryan, Ohio; and siblings, Brent Krill of Cape Coral, Lindsay Krill and Spencer Hilbert, both of Fort Myers, and Drew Kaufman of Bryan, Ohio; along with maternal and paternal grandparents.
Funeral services were Thursday at Grace United Methodist Church.
To send condolences, visit the guest book online: www.MullinsMemorial.com. Mullins Memorial Funeral Home is located at 1056 N.E. Seventh Terrace.