Lisa Smith Memorial

Former U.S. Rep. Pete Olson and Elaine Brooks, mother of Lisa Torry Smith, stand at the intersection in Sienna where Smith died in 2017 while crossing a crosswalk. Both Olson and Brooks would like to see some memorial to Smith at the site. (Photo by Matt deGrood)

Elaine Brooks relives her daughter’s final moments each day.

It’s why the intersection of the quiet Nueces Creek and the slightly busier Sienna Ranch Road means so much to Brooks. For it’s there that Lisa Torry Smith was struck, along with her 6-year-old son, while she was walking him to school in October 2017.

The crash killed Smith and left her son severely injured.

“I relive that every single morning,” she said. “I am Lisa in the dream, and I feel that hit.”

For as much as Smith’s death has affected both her family and countless others across the state and country, there’s no marker at the site itself, recognizing the tragedy that occurred at the Sienna intersection in 2017.

Former U.S. Rep. Pete Olson tried to change that this month. One day, he purchased a fake sign designating the road, Lisa Smith Honorway, and affixed the sign atop the existing intersection.

“I tried to go through official channels, but nothing was moving despite verbal support in Fort Bend County and Missouri City for my efforts,” Olson wrote.

To sate concerns about confusion, Olson said he purchased a green sign – as opposed to Missouri City’s blue-and-red signs – and make sure the existing street signs were visible.

But the sign only lasted six days before someone took it down, Olson said.

The former Fort Bend County elected official posted about the matter on social media and, in a rare spirit of bipartisanship, Fort Bend County District Attorney Brian Middleton said he would track down the sign.

“Congressman Olson, thank you for your efforts and your compassion,” Middleton wrote. “I want to acknowledge Fort Bend County DA investigator Robbie Baker for his diligence in locating and recovering the sign.”

Middleton also said he’d join the campaign to officially rename the street after Smith.

Brooks said this week the family would love some sort of memorial at the site, not only for themselves, but to remind all drivers to be cautious and slow down near intersections.

“I just want people to slow down,” she said.

Because the area falls into Missouri City’s extraterritorial jurisdiction, but not the city limits, Olson and Brooks have had a hard time determining who to lobby for support, they explained. Would the county be in charge, the local homeowners association or Missouri City?

Smith’s family and friends have already secured one measure of solace in the Texas Legislature, when it passed a new law, known as the Lisa Torry Smith Act, in 2021.

The bill, also known as Senate Bill 1055, gives prosecutors new tools to charge motorists that hit or severely injure pedestrians using a crosswalk or an intersection, Middleton said.

Prior to the bill, all crimes would have fallen under the charge of criminally negligent homicide, Middleton said. Grand juries found the statute broad and difficult to apply in specific cases, Middleton said.

A Fort Bend grand jury ultimately declined to indict the driver in Smith’s death with any criminal charges, and the driver left the country, Olson said.

Senate Bill 1055 allows prosecutors to charge drivers who cause bodily injury to a pedestrian with a class A misdemeanor, and a state jail felony if the driver causes serious bodily injury or death, Middleton said. Those charged with the misdemeanor could be sentenced up to a year in jail and a $4,000 fine. Those charged with the felony could receive between six months and two years in jail, and up to a $10,000 fine.

Smith’s death drew bipartisan sympathy, leading State Rep. Ron Reynolds, a Democrat, and State Sen. Joan Huffman, a Republican, to team up with Middleton, a Democrat, and sponsor legislation that Gov. Greg Abbott eventually signed into law in June.

Across both Texas and the county, pedestrian deaths have been on the rise in recent years, according to a report by the Texas Department of Transportation. Pedestrian fatalities increased 18 percent between 2015 and 2019.

In 2019, the state saw more than 5,900 crashes involving pedestrians, including 1,317 with serious injuries and 669 deaths, according to the department.

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