Cameron Raine would have celebrated his 17th birthday last week.
He may have spent the day playing tennis or going fishing if the weather was nice. He may have spent the day helping people.
In a strange twist of fate, he may still be helping residents of Coryell County despite his death nearly 18 months ago.
The long road to 30
Raine died in May 2016 from injuries after he was struck by a car after he ran in front of a car while waiting at a school bus stop.
The pedestrian-car wreck occurred about 7:10 a.m. near Cactus Lane and Pheasant Circle, when a car westbound on Cactus hit the 15-year-old boy from Cove as he was waiting with a friend at the bus stop, according to state police.
“For some unknown reason, the kids were not paying attention, and one of them ran out in the path of a 2002 Subaru, driven by a 31-year-old male out of Copperas Cove,” said Department of Public Safety Trooper D.L. Wilson. “(The victim) was severely injured at the scene.”
The boy was taken by helicopter to Scott & White in Temple in critical condition, and he died from his injuries, Wilson said. The driver, who was not ticketed, was driving 55 mph, according to a report. When a speed limit is not posted in a rural area, the speed limit is believed to be 60 mph.
Amanda Raine, Cameron’s mother, said she researched the subject and found information from Coryell County from 1977 stating the speed limit in residential areas like Cactus Lane should be 30 mph. She said the signs were not posted.
To County Commissioners Court
A little over a month later, 15-year-old jada Savage, a friend, took the bull by the horns. She started a petition drive to have the speed limits posted and reduced.
Her mother, Hilary Savage, said it was a case of no closure in an incident where a friend was killed, the driver was not ticketed and nobody appeared to be doing anything about it.
“She felt that adults and law enforcement let us down in this case,” Hilary Savage said. “Speed limit signs (that were there on Google Earth in 2014 saying 35 mph) were disappearing. We started thinking what the heck is going on!”
Jada Savage’s letter to the Coryell County Commissioners said: “The residents of Nathan Drive, Cactus Lane, Kenny Drive, Greystone Drive, Lake Front Drive Bluestem Drive, Sunset Drive, Pheasant Drive and Arrow Drive would like to change and place speed limit signs along those roads. In Sec. 251.154 maximum reasonable and prudent speeds on county roads, part B states “In determining maximum reasonable and prudent speed, the court shall consider all circumstances on the affected segment of the road, including the width and condition of the road surface and the usual traffic on the road.“ Circumstances such as children playing outside, waiting for the bus during school hours, joggers, pedestrians, etc., with vehicles going anywhere from 40 to 70 mph poses a safety threat to those using the road. On May 11, 2016 Cameron Raine was struck and killed by a car on Cactus Lane while waiting for his school bus. The current legal speed on Cactus Lane is not posted and open for interpretation with cars going an excessive speed leaving little to no room for reaction or error. Cameron was just 15 years old, and his future cut short because of the lack of speed regulations set on Cactus Lane. If the speed limit was lowered to 25 mph in the heavily residential areas, cars will have accurate time to respond to any situation accordingly. Another example would be, that there are many blind spots on the roads listed above, and if a car is travelling at dangerous speed and hits head on with another vehicle, it could be fatal to the driver (s) and passenger (s) or cause serious bodily harm to the persons. I ask you this, how many children, adults, and pets do we have to bury before something is done about the excessive speeding out on these roads. We feel the set speed limit should be 25 MPH because that speed is safe for the pedestrians and oncoming cars using the street, it gives the driver the ability to slow down safe and react for people to cross the street, or give enough room for an oncoming car to pass by, and to take precautions when children are playing or waiting for their school bus. In Sec. 251.154 Maximum Reasonable and Prudent Speeds on County Roads, part C states “ The maximum reasonable and prudent speed set by the commissioners court under this section may be lower than the maximum speed set by law for a vehicle travelling on a public highway “. That means 25 MPH can be a set speed limit under the commissioners court and can be approved and put into effect “ ... under this section is effective when appropriate signs giving the notice of the segment of the county road “ ( Sec.251.154 part d). Without the appropriate signs on the above listed roads, how are drivers supposed to drive the appropriate speed limit if there is none, but with the speed limit changed to 25 MPH and road signs installed, drivers and pedestrians can be safe when travelling on these roads.”
It took a number of meetings and hearings, but Hilary Savage was a bulldog going to all of the county commission meetings for a three-month period.
“It got to the point that enough was enough,” Hilary Savage said. “We didn’t think the commissioners were taking it seriously.”
Savage argued that the county was not taking care of the roads (pot holes and debris) and there was not enough enforcement in the area. “We were livid and wanted some closure,” she said.
The petition drive
Jada Savage was informed she needed to have the wording for the petition signed by local residents, so she started going door to door gathering signatures.
An online petition garnered 1,000 signatures and signed petitions brought in another 500. They also sold shirts.
Meanwhile, Hilary Savage kept attending meetings, hearings and other county meetings.
A public hearing was held during summer 2016 in Copperas Cove and other meeting occurred in September. On Sept. 26, county commissioners approved changing the speed limits for over 100 rural roads in Coryell County.
County Judge John Firth said changing the speed limits was a no brainer.
“It is not easy to take action that takes away from other county functions, but because it became so obvious we needed to take action just for safety reasons,” Firth said.
Earlier in the month Coryell County Road and Bridges Administrator Justin Latham said the county has installed about 95 percent of the signs.
“I tasked a two-man crew to complete this job,” Latham said. “They began working around October 2016 and finished up in January of 2017. The cost to the county for this was around $20,000.”
The newly adjusted speed limits ranged from 20 to 45 mph. That is a change in a number of areas. If a speed limit was not posted on a rural road, the speed limit was presumed to be 60 mph.
Coryell County sheriff’s civil records processor Officer Bobby Sanders said the department has concentrated on keeping better records since Sheriff Scott Williams took over.
The records show there were 348 citations for speeding and 233 warnings written in 2016. During the first 10 months of 2017, there were 398 citations for speeding and 809 warnings.
Chief Deputy Mark Wilcox said it was still too early to tell if the lowering of the speed limits has influenced those numbers or if residents are going to adjust to the new speed limits.
What did we learn?
With all of the unrest in the world politically, Hilary Savage said it is important to pay attention to local government. She was one of the only people at a number of Coryell County Commissioners Court meetings.
“The local and county governments are the ones that will affect you most,” Savage said. “You have to be diligent and believe that hard work will pay off.”
For Amanda Raine, it was more personal. “I was honored have the privilege to be Cameron’s mother for 15 years,” she said. “Maybe something good will come from it.”
The legacy of Cameron Raine will continue as he was an organ donor. Mandy raine received a letter from someone who received Cameron’s lungs.
“Thursday (Sept. 16, 2016) I was driving home and it had already been one of those days,” Amanda Raine wrote on Facebook. “I received the most amazing letter. The recipient of Cameron’s lungs had written us a letter. She said she has received strong lungs and her health had drastically changed for the better even in this short time. It was a beautiful letter of gratitude. My son changed this woman’s life in such an amazing way. Although MY heart is heavy I have more pride for my son than ever. His lungs may not draw breath for his body but they are breathing for someone else. Talk about a selfless act. My hopes are with time she will want to meet me.”
Cameron Raine would have been 17 on Nov. 24.