Omer residents hope for crosswalk, stop light after librarian dies
(12/4/2019) - The smallest city in Michigan is mourning the loss of a beloved librarian.
The 71-year-old died Monday night after she was hit by a car while crossing a busy highway in Omer. Charmaine Ploof was walking across U.S. 23, which is a four-lane highway through the city.
"Very smart woman," Arenac County Sheriff Jim Mosciski said.
Some locals say they need a crosswalk or a stop light in that area.
Ploof left her place of work for the past three decades around 6:30 p.m. Monday and was attempting to walk across U.S. 23 at Main Street to get home. She was hit by a car driven by an 18-year-old woman from the Tawas area.
"The lighting is not that great there and she was in dark clothes," Mosciski said.
At this point, he doesn't believe the driver was distracted by a cell phone or anything else, but the investigation continues.
"If you said you were cold, she would take her coat off and wrap it around you. That's the type of person she was," Omer Public Works Director Paul Piche said of Ploof.
He often gave her rides.
"She relied on people to give her rides, sometimes people would forget, and she would walk, she would walk," Piche said.
City Treasurer Joan Steward would often wait after work until Ploof left the library to give her a ride home.
"She would never ask, she would never ask. I would have to scold her," Steward said.
Police are still investigating how fast the driver was traveling, but Piche has worried something like this would eventually happen.
"We have a problem with speeders in town. The speed limit is 35 mph and quite often they are doing 50 to 60 mph," Piche said.
He plans on petitioning the Michigan Department of Transportation to put a crosswalk in that area.
Mayor Clark Sanford would like to see a stoplight, instead of the flashing light in place now. A Dollar General store opened up in town this fall.
"There is no safe place to cross. Traffic in the summer is just constant. They are really taking a big chance just trying to cross the highway to get to the store," Piche said.
MDOT spokeswoman Jocelyn Hall said the department certainly will work with the community to identify any safety improvements that can be made moving forward.