Andover father advocates for traffic changes after his 5-year-old daughter’s tragic death

ANDOVER, Mass. — The father of 5-year-old Sidney Olson says he hopes his daughter’s tragic death on May 9th at Em Square helps spur change to keep others safe.

“We’ve known it’s a dangerous intersection, we see near misses there almost every day,” said Eric Olson, the father of Sidney.

Olson says the loss of his daughter, who was hit by a tractor-trailer as she crossed the street on a scooter, has been heart-wrenching.

“I would never want anyone else’s to feel the pain that we feel. We have very dark moments but there are hopeful moments like tonight where we see her spirit living,” said Olson

Thursday night he and a group of supportive parents who call themselves “Sidney’s Rainbows” came to a city traffic meeting to propose changes at Elm Square where the 5-year-old was killed.

“Tonight is not about purely responding to my daughter it’s about making sure it never happens again,” said Olson.

Sidney’s Rainbows are advocating for three things at Elm Square and across town:

  • Adjust timing at traffic crosswalks
  • Move the stop bar back from the crosswalk
  • Add patrols at busy intersections

People in town lined up to show support for change and tell town officials and police of several close calls at intersections around town.

The goal is to start at Elm Square and make changes at intersections all over town.

“We are here tonight to ask the town the state to help make our town safer for everyone,” said  Elyse Andrews, who is one of Sidney’s Rainbows.

Some short-term quick fixes already have been made at Elm Square. The stop bar was pushed back from the crosswalk and the timing of the traffic signal was adjusted to give people more time to cross.

A traffic study will determine longer-term changes to make the Elm Square intersection even safer and to do the same at other intersections across town.

The town says it also hopes to fully staff the traffic unit, one of Sidney’s Rainbows goals in Thursday’s meeting.

Andover comes together to support family of 5 year old hit and killed by tractor-trailer

For Sidney’s last birthday, she wanted a rainbow theme because “it includes everyone’s favorite color,” her family said. That is where the group “Sidney’s Rainbows” came from.

Sidney was in a springboard-to-kindergarten program at the SHED school, where she was known for her “soft-spoken curiosity, and her budding ability to de-escalate conflict and find common ground in groups,” according to her parents.

She also had a love for visiting the New England Aquarium to see the stingrays and octopus, roaming the mountains near their vacation home in Warren, Vermont, styling her daily outfits, making pieces of art, picking flowers, and showcasing her creative skills.

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