The friends, family, students and teachers of the late Katie Maynus shared hugs after what they described as a good meeting with the mayor of Marion.
The group gathered outside of the City Building at 10 a.m. Tuesday with signs as a handful of representatives met with city officials regarding the stop sign that was obstructed by a tree the day Katie Maynus was pronounced brain dead following an accident at the intersection. The tree is located in the easement, a portion of grass between the sidewalk and street, and a large branch still partially obstructs the view of the stop sign Katie Maynus reportedly did not stop at.
“I’m very happy. I didn’t expect it to go that well, honestly,” Katie Maynus’ cousin Sarah Johnson said. “I wanted something – an outcome that would honor Katie’s life because she’s not just a name on a piece of paper. She was a human. She lived for 18 years. Her name is Katie Jo Maynus. I am very happy that, from what I can hear, the officials were understanding. We just want action. That’s all we want. We want them to acknowledge it and the bigger issue.”
Other members who attended the meeting agreed.
“I think it went well. I mean, it’s not about assigning blame or whose fault it is. It’s about getting the tree down,” Oak Hill teacher Danielle Hewitt said shortly after exiting the meeting. “We have a plan. Instead of bouncing it from one person to the next, we are getting it done. That’s the important thing here, to get the tree down.”
Johnson said she’s driven past the intersection of Butler Avenue and Indiana 18, where the accident occurred, almost every day since the crash.
“Some limbs have been trimmed, but you still can’t see the stop sign until you’re right on top of it. Even then, you have to pull forward a bit to get past the other trees,” Johnson said. “There’s still bits of the car on the tree. As much as I want to clean it up to make it seem like nothing happened, I want people to look at that and know what happened.”
Mayor Alumbaugh said the group came to a resolution where the people gathering outside would find an insured contractor and pay to remove the tree. Alumbaugh said the city would send the chief of police, Angela Haley, with the group to get permission from the property owner, since he said the city cannot remove the tree without their permission.
“From what I understand it’s going to cost about $1,000 to remove both trees,” Hewitt said, adding that the group believes they have the funds to make that happen.
The city will provide a truck to haul away the debris, Alumbaugh said following the meeting. Hewitt said both parties agreed that the students will volunteer their time to fix the situation.
“These guys didn’t get to do their senior community service day because of coronavirus… It’s kind of like their senior community service day that they never got to have,” she said. ‘I wish it was not under these circumstances, but…”
Alumbaugh said he is encouraged and proud to see the students demand action in wake of the accident. He said he’s impressed with their actions so far, and he said Tuesday was a testament to the fact that the younger generation is dedicated to making the world better.
“We are working together to try to take a situation that we can never fix and try to make it a better city moving forward,” Alumbaugh said. “This is, I hope, just one of the ways that we find partnerships with community people.”
He said the students asked if they could bring other issues to the city’s attention, and Alumbaugh said he’s all for that idea.
“I’m so impressed with the young people today,” he said. “They’re taking ownership for their communities. They’re not sitting back... These young people lost somebody that they loved dearly, and I will keep them in my prayers.”
Hewitt said she wants the tree removed because she never wants to have this happen again.
“It could be anyone’s son, daughter, friend, granddaughter – It could be anyone,” Hewitt said. “I don’t know the history of this, but all I’ve seen is what’s being said on social media that people have crashed there all the time and that reports have been made, but Chief Haley said that there had been no official reports, INDOT said there have been no official reports or concerns prior to this, so I don’t care about any of that. I want the tree down because that’s what caused this accident.”
Johnson agreed, and she wanted the community to know that Katie’s death was not in vein.
“She loved everyone, and everyone loved her. That’s just who she was. All she wanted to do with her life – she didn’t really have any plans yet, but she just wanted to help people. That’s what she’s doing,” she said. “She saved six people’s lives with her organ donations, and she’s going to save many more because of the action that’s being taken. I just know that this is the best possible outcome that could have happened.”