“We just need results:” Residents call for action after another deadly crash on Harrisburg Road

"We just need results:" Residents call for action after another deadly crash on Harrisburg Road

JONESBORO, Ark. (KAIT) - For the second time this month, police are investigating a deadly crash on Harrisburg Road.

The Jonesboro Police Department said the rollover crash happened just before 1 a.m. Wednesday, Jan. 20, in the 3800-block of Harrisburg Road, near Central Baptist Church.

When Officer Tanner Huff arrived, according to his initial incident report, he found a 2020 Audi about 100′ off the road resting on the driver’s side.

According to the Arkansas State Police preliminary fatal crash report, the car was southbound when it crossed over the east side of the road and drove through a wooden and brick fence. The Audi then hit a ramp of dirt and became airborne. The vehicle rolled until it landed.

The driver, 58-year-old James Essary of Jonesboro, was partially ejected from the vehicle with “substantial injuries.”

Huff contacted the Craighead County coroner after confirming Essary was dead at the scene.

JPD said it took officers several hours to clear the scene but urged motorists Wednesday morning to remain cautious “for any hazards that may remain.”

On Jan. 1, a woman died when the vehicle she was riding in ran off the roadway in that same stretch of Harrisburg Road and slammed into an apartment building at Dogwood Estates.

Wednesday’s crash also took out the fence at the apartments and now residents say they can’t get sleep at night because they don’t know when a car is going to run into their home. That concern increases as more cars run off of the road into their backyards.

“Every night my concern is that a car is going to go through the wall and again that’s where my son sleeps, his bedroom is right on this highway,” resident Valerie Nieves said.

The night of the first crash, Property Manager Major Bowen, told Region 8 News there will be more crashes if nothing changes. He says he has been requesting that the state put a guardrail up to protect the residents.

In a Facebook post, the Jonesboro department originally said engineers with the city and the Arkansas Department of Transportation are “looking into this stretch of roadway to hopefully be able to make changes that alleviate any future accidents of this nature.”

However, Jonesboro’s Director of Communication released this statement, saying:

“The mayor is aware of the issue on Harrisburg Road, as well a couple of other hot spots around the city. As this is a state highway, the mayor will present his concerns in a visit he plans to make to ArDOT in the next week or two. Know that any statement saying city engineers are studying this is inaccurate. It’s not under our purview. But we are concerned.”

And as several officials within the city to the state work to find a solution, Bowen says it’s only a matter of time before the next accident happens again.

“The tenants are scared now that live up there. They are afraid to go to sleep at night. I don’t want anyone to feel unsafe in their own home. They shouldn’t have to,” Bowen said. “Somebody is going to get killed in one of these units. A car is going to go through and kill someone.”

Crashes that have occurred on Harrisburg Road since Jan. 1, 2018.
Crashes that have occurred on Harrisburg Road since Jan. 1, 2018. (Source: Jonesboro Police Dept.)

Region 8 News will continue to track this story and provide new details as they become available.

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