On Jan. 3, police responded to the area of 67th Avenue and Indian School Road after receiving reports of a crash. When officers arrived at the scene, they discovered 15-year-old J'nae Bragg was struck by a car while attempting to cross the road outside of a crosswalk along Indian School Road, west of 67th Avenue.
Bragg was taken to the hospital in critical condition, but died a few days later as a result of her injuries, authorities confirmed.
Investigators say the driver who hit the girl was not impaired nor was he or she speeding at the time of the accident. Because J'nae was not in the crosswalk, police say the driver will not be cited.
The victim's family described her as an upbeat child who always lived life to the fullest. Her aunt, Sheila Baker, says the family is leaning on each other for support during this difficult time.
"It's hard," Baker said. "We're just supporting each other. We're calling each other. We're asking each other 'How you doing?'"
J'nae was heading to the store to get some snacks when she was hit by the car, her family explained.
"You don't think to get down to the crosswalk — especially if you have an immediate need and you think you can get there safe and get back safe," Baker said.
Baker says the tragic incident is bringing to light a bigger issue: the lack of crosswalks in the area. She explained that Bragg lived with her father nearby and it's often easier to run across the road as opposed to walking to a crosswalk blocks away.
Baker is not the only one who takes issue with the configuration along Indian School Road. With several apartment complexes and stores along the road, Sharonda Mayes with Word of Abundant Life Christian Center, says it's just more convenient to jaywalk in the area.
The crosswalks are so far down," Mayes said. "I mean, people just choose to play Russian Roulette I guess and run across the street."
Although Mayes and Baker don't know each other, they both agree that additional crosswalks are needed. An ABC15 crew sat in the area for an hour and witnessed several people dodging traffic to get to the other side of the road.
Mayes believes if steps aren't taken soon, the problem will only worsen.
"I think we'll potentially see more deaths, and if not deaths, we'll see more injuries for sure," she explained.
ABC15 reached out to the City of Phoenix Street Transportation Department. A representative said there are no current plans to install a new crosswalk in the area, but no one has requested on either. They're urging anyone who has a traffic-related issue to contact them to discuss potential changes. They can be reached at 602-262-6284.
Meanwhile, Baker is left to mourn the death of her niece.
"...Talk to your child," Baker said. "Make sure they're safe and they're doing the right thing and they're obeying the law — the traffic law — and so on."
Her family set up a GoFundMe account to raise money for Bragg's funeral costs and medical bills.