Chillicothe seeks solutions for Walnut Street

By WEEK Producer

October 10, 2013 Updated Oct 10, 2013 at 8:18 PM CDT

CHILLICOTHE, Ill. -- A home made memorial sits at the foot of the Illinois River in Chillicothe where Julie Peters and her vehicle were pulled from the water.

Only a few yards away is Walnut Street, which abruptly turns into a boat ramp. There are no signs or warnings the street ends and the river begins.

Dana Barragan, who works at the bar right next to that boat ramp, says its not the first time an unsuspecting driver wound up in the water.

"I know of a Pizza Hut driver that drove into the river," said Barragan. Luckily he was able to back out but when he brought the pizza inside there was water in the boxes. The Pizza Hut delivery guy is from this area and he even drove into the river."

Chillicothe resident Curt Lane's story goes back decades.

"My brother and I, when we were young kids, we were down here on our bicycles fishing," remembered Lane. My brother says, 'there's a car in the river.' And I said, 'No way.' He says, 'That's a car antenna.' And there was a car in there."

While all of the circumstances of Peters' death aren't yet clear, the city of Chillicothe is weighing potential improvements that would help alert drivers of the now fatal quirk at the end of Walnut Street.

"At this point we've kicked around a couple of ideas but its very preliminary," explained Chillicothe mayor Doug Crew.

And some locals have a few suggestions.

"The foremost thing that needs to happen is maybe some signs, some blinking LED stop signs or water hazard signs so that people who are not from the local community know that this road dead-ends into the river," said Chillicothe resident Dana Bannister.

"I would put a sign that says RIVER and if possible a three-way stop," said Lane.

All things that may have saved Julie Peters life.