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Residents March With Mock Coffins Because of Traffic Fatalities

September 28, 1986

GIBSONTON, Fla. (AP) _ Residents carried mock coffins in a march along the U.S. highway where 23 people have been killed and hundreds injured since 1980 by cars speeding through the city.

″I think this town will finally be recognized for what it is, a town, not just a place on the highway where people are getting killed,″ said Dick Marholz, co-founder of Concerned Citizens for Pedestrians on U.S. 41, which cuts through the Hillsborough County hamlet of 7,000 people.

″I think it shows community unity,″ Hillsborough County Commissioner Jim Selvey said of the Saturday event that featured 23 handmade mock coffins, Boy Scout troops, a high school marching band and a Reserve Officer Training Corp color guard.

The fatalities occurred along a two-mile stretch of the highway that cuts through Gibsonton, which is known for its population of carnival performers.

The most recent fatality in June prompted the creation of the pedestrians’ group. While state and federal officials have promised to install traffic lights and a paved shoulder for the road by 1988, residents want action sooner.

″I’ve seen a lot of accidents there,″ said Raymond Boyd, one of the pallbearers. ″I’m here because I believe in what this parade is all about: slow them down on U.S. 41 and light it up.″

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