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updated: 10/18/2011 5:30 PM

Kane County considers speed limit change on road where teen died

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  • A memorial was placed at the scene soon after a May 16 car accident in Elburn in which 17-year-old Lynlee Gilbert of Batavia died.

      A memorial was placed at the scene soon after a May 16 car accident in Elburn in which 17-year-old Lynlee Gilbert of Batavia died.
    Patrick Kunzer | Staff Photographer

  • Lynlee Gilbert's family, including brother Adam, right, and father Jeff, attended Batavia High School's spring commencement ceremony. Lynlee, who would have graduated, died in a single-car accident May 16.

      Lynlee Gilbert's family, including brother Adam, right, and father Jeff, attended Batavia High School's spring commencement ceremony. Lynlee, who would have graduated, died in a single-car accident May 16.
    Rick West | Staff Photographer

 
 

The speed limit on the stretch of Green Road in Elburn that took Lynlee Gilbert's life May 16 indicates it's safe to navigate the curves at 50 mph. Jeff Gilbert, father of the girl who was a Batavia High School senior when she died, pleaded with Kane County Board members Tuesday to reduce that limit to a speed that will save lives.

Lynlee Gilbert, 17, was driving about 68 mph on Green Road south of Hughes Road in Blackberry Township when she failed to negotiate a turn, accident investigators said following the crash. The teen was headed home from working a retail job in Aurora. Her car left the road and slammed against a tree, killing her and severely injuring a passenger.

The organs Lynlee donated in death may have helped save lives.

Since then, Jeff Gilbert has tried to figure out why his daughter, normally a cautious driver, lost control of her vehicle. The problem wasn't hard to solve. Now he's hoping his daughter's death may save even more lives.

"I have driven Green Road, I can't count how many times, trying to figure out what happened," Gilbert said. "I've recreated the time and day and her speed. I find it virtually impossible to stay in my lane during those winding turns."

Gilbert said it's also impossible to stay under the 50 mph speed limit unless, as an experienced driver, you're paying attention to the downward slope of the road. Not engaging the brakes results in adding anywhere from 6 to 12 mph by the time a vehicle reaches the bottom of the hill, Gilbert said.

"There is no way, even with my driving experience, that anyone could stay on that road at that speed," he said. "My daughter had her driver's license for three weeks. The police say her inexperience on the road at that speed caused the accident. We have the responsibility to make sure that our roads are safe for our children if we are going to give them a driver's license at 16."

The Kane County Board's Transportation Committee agreed. If the full county board concurs, the speed limit on Green Road from Main Street heading north to Hughes will be 40 mph. A speed study by the county on the road showed 85 percent of the drivers navigated the turns on Green at 43 mph.

If the speed change is approved, the county will likely put up signs, including a radar signal, to advertise the reduced speed limit.

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