Latoya Eiland died a tragic death in downtown Milwaukee. Her mother is calling on the city to reevaluate safety measures on waiting platforms for The Hop.
Latoya Eiland, 40, died when her best friend drove into The Hop streetcar waiting platform handrail in downtown Milwaukee in July.
Her mother, Terry Roby, is not interested in a hefty penalty for the driver, Kimberly Williams, but instead she wants the city to reevaluate safety measures at Hop waiting stations.
Williams, 39, was criminally charged on Thursday. She was charged with two counts of homicide by intoxicated use of a motor vehicle — one of the charges relates to the presence of controlled substances.
Both charges are felonies and, if convicted, she could be sentenced to 50 years in prison.
According to the criminal complaint:
Williams was driving southbound on North Milwaukee Street, shortly after midnight on July 15, when she struck the Hop waiting platform at East Wisconsin Avenue. The guardrail then entered the car, killing Eiland.
Williams admitted to police at the scene that she had been drinking alcohol and smoking marijuana prior to the crash.
She provided a sample of blood roughly 4½ hours after the crash and her blood alcohol concentration was 0.051%. However, a toxicologist estimated that her BAC was between approximately 0.094% and 0.159% during the crash. The legal limit to drive in Wisconsin is 0.08%.
A toxicologist also found tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in her blood sample, which is a chemical found in marijuana.
The criminal complaint states that surveillance video captured the crash. Roby also told the Journal Sentinel she has seen the video.
Roby, joined by family and friends of Eiland's, gathered at the intersection where the crash took place on Saturday, which would have been Eiland's 41st birthday.
Roby had a message for the driver, although she says Williams never reached out to her. "I just want to say, Kimberly, I don't know if you're sorry. I hope that you're sorry," Roby said.
"And I hope that you learn a lesson from this. Don't drink, don't smoke, don't use your phone, don't do any of that when you're driving. People's lives are at stake. Families are hurting from this. Kids are losing their mothers."
Eiland leaves behind a 10-year-old daughter. "Make better decisions, call for Uber," Roby said.
Aside from Williams, who will have her day in court, Roby wants to see change at The Hop waiting platform.
DPW says waiting platforms are in compliance with the law and similar to those seen around the country
"I would like the city to reevaluate this area, put up a different guard there, put something around it so that doesn't happen," Roby said. "This is not a safe place for people to travel to."
At a minimum, Roby is of the belief that the railings, which are gray, should not be the same color as the road. She believes the city could also provide better lighting and signage at the intersection.
Brian DeNeve, a spokesperson with the Department of Public Works, says The Hop waiting platform and railings "were constructed via State, County and City safety standards and are similar to those in other cities with streetcar service such as Cincinnati, Detroit and Oklahoma City. The railing is designed to prevent pedestrians from falling into the street rather (than) stopping vehicular traffic."
At Saturday's balloon release, Roby was under the impression that the railing was never fixed since the July crash. However, there was another collision in December, "which required a larger portion of the railing to be removed," DeNeve said.
"Since the July incident we have been in process of repairing that section but due to supply chain issues, procurement of the necessary materials has been delayed."
Roby is adamant that the city can do more. "Anybody can look down," Roby said. "They can shift their gear and look over their shoulder trying to see another car. There needs to be some protection here. There needs to be something else besides what they have. These poles have killed my daughter."
Eiland was an entrepreneur who always wanted to help
Roby described Eiland as "a giving, loving person who would do anything for anybody," as she spoke on behalf of the family at Saturday's event.
Eiland was an entrepreneur who helped those in the community find better jobs and opportunities, her mother said.
"She paid for other people's funerals, she bought clothes ... she helped a couple of our cousins, she funded them to go to college. She does a lot of things for the community," Roby said. "If she find out some news that can benefit somebody, she's sending emails, she's just trying to help anybody that needs help."
Roby said on countless occasions her soft-spoken daughter would assist with buying children shoes and help people with utility bills. "She was just a loving, giving person," Roby said.
On Wednesday, a Common Council committee recommended approval of a safety plan for The Hop. Williams is due in court on Feb. 9.
Contact Drake Bentley at (414) 391-5647 or DBentley1@gannett.com. Follow him on Twitter at @DrakeBentleyMJS.
Our subscribers make this reporting possible. Please consider supporting local journalism by subscribing to the Journal Sentinel at jsonline.com/deal.
DOWNLOAD THE APP: Get the latest news, sports and more
This article originally appeared on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Latoya Eiland died crashing into Hop platform; mother wants change