Father Pushes for Intersection Changes 5 Years After Losing Son

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - It was 5 years ago Tuesday, March 2, 2004 when 2 teenage boys were killed in a 2 vehicle accident. Since that day, the father of one boy has been working to make the intersection of the scene safer.

"No one should have to bury their children," said Dan Qualls.

Qualls learned his son Matt and Devin Isbell, Matt's best friend, were killed when a woman ran a stop sign, hitting their car. Matt and Devin, who would have been high school seniors this year, will have memory pages in the Valley View school yearbook.

"He wasn't a straight a student. He had some issues, but what he lacked for in academics he made up other ways," said Qualls. "There are no words. We've experienced several tragedies, family has, over the years, and nothing prepares you for that."

The boys were killed at the intersection of Highway 163 & 158.

Officials with the State Highway Department said states across the country have to follow a certain set of guidelines which govern signage.

"There are a set of warrants, a set of minimum values that you need to meet before you go to the expense of putting a traffic signal in," said Joe Barnett. "It's a safety issue when traffic level volumes reach a certain point, and when we looked at that, it did not meet those warrants."

Barnett said a stop light to be placed at that intersection would cost $150,000 at today's prices.

"After the fatality accident we were asked to review that, and there were some enhancement that were added. We added some stop ahead imprints on the pavement to give a little advanced warning," said Barnett.

"It was my understanding that a light would be out of the question because of the cost, then we inquired about the rumble strips. I thought that would be a onetime thing, no upkeep, no maintenance, and we even offered to pay or have a fundraiser or something to get the money," said Qualls.

"He loved going to the lake, swimming. He was like a fish. He loved the water, any kind of sports. He loved to skateboard," said Qualls. "If we don't do something else to alleviate that problem, the next time it is foggy, the same thing could happen again."

According to Qualls, his wife calls the county jail on 4 days of every year. She calls on the birthdays of Matt, Devin, Devin's brother Tyler and the anniversary date of the crash. The driver was sentenced to 40 days in county jail to be served over 10 years as part of creative sentencing.