ST. LOUIS ( -- As the St. Louis community remembers a beloved former history teacher who was tragically killed in a hit and run in South City, businesses are calling for changes on the road in which he was killed.

"For us as a business, it's really concerning that our patrons are almost not safe crossing the street. Something's got to be done about it,” Lassaad Jeliti said.

That fear became reality on Thursday morning for Jeliti, owner of Egg. His location in South City was just steps away from where Steven Aylward was struck and killed by a car driving on Gravois Road.

"He was just a beautiful person. He became very much a part of us,” Jeliti said.

Aylward was a retired St. Louis U. High School history teacher. On Thursday and Friday, there was an outpouring of support from former students and colleagues on social media, remembering the man they say shaped their learning experience.

Aylward was a frequent patron at Egg, often going up to three times a week. Aylward was leaving the restaurant just before 10 a.m. on Thursday when he was struck crossing Gravois at McNair Avenue.

“It’s just very hard for us to kind of digest what happened,” Jeliti said. “He was basically laying like a rag doll on the other side of the street. The impact was so tremendous that his shoes were about 15 feet apart, came off."

Officials from the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department tell News 4 in the last year, there have been four other accident-related incident reports tied to this same intersection near where Aylward was killed. The rest of Gravois Avenue in South City has been equally known by residents and businesses in the area as dangerous place for drivers and pedestrians for years and some believe changes are long overdue.

"Maybe reduce speeds, some kind of speed bumps,” Jeliti said. “Something has got to be done about it."

News 4 asked the city if there are plans to address existing safety concerns on Gravois. A spokesperson says the road is maintained by the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT). We reached out to MoDOT and they say they only handle limited maintenance on the road like signals and striping. As far as speed enforcement, the state says that is on the city and police.

"It's a major kind of artery to the city, and traffic studies have to be done to kind of figure out a balance,” Jeliti said.

St. Louis Public Safety Director Dan Isom tells News 4 while he cannot speak on concerns about Gravois Avenue specifically, he does say they are actively collecting data on high accident locations in the city and are using that to delegate enforcement.

Dan Guenther, the alderman for the 9th Ward, tells News 4 he has been asking the city for changes on Gravois for a long time but keeps being referred to speak to MoDOT. He has a meeting set with MoDOT in the next week to address safety concerns on that road.

Police say a silver Chevy Impala was involved in the hit-and-run. They do not have a suspect in custody at this time.

Copyright 2021 KMOV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved


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