Instead, the late 26-year-old’s aunt sobbed during the Cherokee Board of Commissioners meeting as she profusely thanked the board for taking steps to fix the Acworth intersection where Robbins and the unborn child were in a fatal car crash in January.
“I just appreciate everything you guys are doing from the bottom of my heart,” Judy Beale said to the board, as she wiped away tears, with her voice quivering and cracking. “I just want it fixed. I have a son who drives it; I drive it; your family drives it, and I don’t want you guys to suffer like we have.”
Commissioners voted unanimously to pay research firm Kimley-Horn & Associates $10,900 to perform a study identifying the best solutions to improve safety at the skewed, sloping three-way intersection of Woodstock Road and Victory Drive. The county had been planning a study since February.
In a rare, emotional back-and-forth between a resident and official during a board meeting, Commissioner Jason Nelms promised Beale something would be done to prevent another tragedy, and appeared moved by her pleas.
“You’re going to get me crying up here. I feel your pain and I hear it,” Nelms told Beale, who has been helping Robbins’ husband Anthony raise his and Tiffany’s 2-year-old daughter, Malaya. “I can promise you one thing: I’m your representative in Post 4, and I’m fighting for this. You’ve got my word. Jason Nelms and this entire board is not forgetting anything. We don’t want this to happen again. We’re so sorry for your loss.”
The intersection was the site of the Jan. 11 wreck that claimed the life of Robbins, a homemaker and Etowah High graduate, and baby Ariella, who didn’t survive an emergency Cesarean section. Police have said Robbins drove into the path of a pickup truck.
Nelms assured Beale officials had been considering how to solve the issues since February, when the family started an online petition and began pleading for two more stop signs at the intersection, which now has one stop.
The study will consider the benefits and safety of stop signs, as well as a roundabout, traffic signals or other options, County Manager Jerry Cooper said. The results are expected to come back in late April, at which point the county will start moving toward the best option.
While action may not be coming as soon as Beale would like, she was thankful for the board’s step Tuesday. Following the vote, she lowered her head into her chest and whispered, “Praise Jesus, praise Jesus.”
After the meeting, she again spoke with Nelms, still thanking him, and he offered another step the county could take to help the family. Assuming the rest of the commissioners were on board, Nelms said he wanted to have the intersection dedicated to Robbins after the improvements were made.
“My heart goes out to them,” he said. “I can’t imagine what they are going through and want to help all I can.”
That step, Beale said, will help with the healing.