Brake for Bri: Online petition started to make intersection safer where young mom killed

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) - The friends and family of a young mother killed by a driver who ran a stop sign are demanding change at the intersection where the crash happened.

Friends and family of Bri Templeton are asking the community to "Brake for Bri" -- reminding people to be safe when they get behind the wheel.

On April 4, 2018, Bri Templeton was turning at the intersection of Austin Bluffs and Rangewood near the Briargate YMCA when another driver blew through a stop sign and t-boned Templeton’s car, killing her.

“She, I can’t explain it, but she really was a light in this world, and I truly feel like this world is darker without her,” said Ashley Wiggins, Bri’s older sister.

Templeton was just 25 years old at the time of the crash. She left behind a young daughter and fiancé.

“She was perfect. She was a great mother first and foremost,” said Brittany Schmidt, Bri’s friend and coworker. “She was a great friend. She was the best friend. She had more than one maid of honor for her wedding because she had so many friends.”

In the months since the crash, Templeton’s friends and family have set up a memorial at the corner of Austin Bluffs and Rangewood.

“When we do come out here, we want to remember the beautiful things about her, but we can’t help but notice how dangerous this intersection is,” Wiggins said.

She told 11 News she often sees drivers speeding and rolling through the stop signs instead of coming to a complete stop.

“It breaks my heart because I don’t want anyone to even just get hurt,” Wiggins said.

Now, Templeton’s friends and family are working to make the intersection where she was killed safer.

Elizabeth Kloeppel, a friend who lives out of state, started an online petition that calls on the city to install traffic lights at the intersection. Right now, there are oversized stop signs, stop signs in the median, and "stop ahead" written on the road, but some believe it’s not enough.

“If we’ve done all of these things and they’re not working, we need to change it up,” said Alicia Whitcomb, who lives near the intersection where the crash happened.

Whitcomb was behind Templeton when the car crashed into her.

“Honestly, I put on my hazards and just ran out of the car and called 911,” she said. “It seemed very surreal, like a movie. It seemed fast and slow at the same time.”

Whitcomb said she’s lived in the area for nearly a decade and has seen the intersection change over time.

“In the 10 years we’ve been here, we’ve had a lot of new buildings and businesses up here, so the traffic amount has increased a lot,” she said. “So we frequently see people speeding through, stopping or rolling, barely stopping. It seems to be more of a problem now than it was when we first moved here.”

Whitcomb said she believes a stoplight would help with those problems.

“I feel like a stoplight would be more visible, and if it can prevent this from happening ever again, that’s worth it. It’s absolutely worth it,” she said.

More than 7,000 people have already signed the online petition, and the city is taking notice.

City Traffic Engineer Todd Frisbie said he’s reviewing crash and traffic data for the intersection to see if more needs to be done. But he said no matter what’s installed at the intersection, it all comes down to drivers.

“As a city, we put in measures to make those intersections as safe as possible, but we’re also relying on drivers to obey the traffic laws,” Frisbie said.

One difficulty in the review process is that there are two places in Colorado Springs where Austin Bluffs and Rangewood intersect. One is a four-way intersection that already has a stoplight. The other is the three-way intersection where Templeton was killed that has stop signs.

11 News asked the Colorado Springs Police Department for crash reports from the intersection where Templeton was killed. The department provided data that showed there were only two crashes in recent years, Templeton’s and one that happened May 11, 2018. But the analytical supervisor who worked on the request admitted that the data might not be accurate because the police reports didn’t always specify which intersection the crash happened at.

Frisbie said he’s reading through each report to get a better idea of where the crashes happened. Depending on the results, that would determine if the intersection where Templeton was killed needs additional safety measures, like a stoplight.

“When we look at the crash data, we look at two things: We look at the pattern and the number of crashes over a period of time,” Frisbie said. “As sort of a general rule of thumb that we use, if we see five or more types of crashes that could be corrected by a traffic signal, that begins to meet that federal guideline ... to cause us to consider whether a traffic signal is an appropriate measure or whether there’s another measure, traffic control measure, to make that intersection safer.”

In the end, no matter what the outcome is at the intersection where Templeton was killed, her family says they hope the message to "Brake for Bri" gets people thinking about road safety.

“I know that this isn’t about Bri in particular,” her sister said. “This is about everyone. This is just one small step toward us getting rid of distracted driving.”