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Although Ratliffs Have Moved Away, Novato Isn't Forgetting Hailey

Fundraisers continue for the family of the 13-year-old girl who was killed while crossing a Novato road on Sept. 27.

There are some developments in the sad saga of on a busy street just a few feet from her west Novato home. But the answers the public has sought about the fatal crash — how and why it happened — aren't ready for release yet.

Novato police Acting Lt. Jennifer Welch said Monday that the department's traffic unit is "completing a thorough investigation, including data collection from various technologies, and all this takes time." There was no timeline for a press release.

Meantime, some important things have taken place:

  • The Ratliff family has moved back to Albuquerque.
  • Novato kids are selling bracelets to raise money for the family.
  • A grassroots committee has formed to address pedestrian/biker safety on Novato Boulevard
  • A neighborhood meeting is taking place at a private home Wednesday, Oct. 24, to discuss pedestrian safety.
  • A community walk in Hailey's honor is set for Nov. 4.
  • Friends in Albuquerque are trying to get a section of trail named after Hailey.

Dolores Vallez, Hailey's oldest cousin, said Charles and Angela Ratliff arrived in Albuquerque on Monday with their three young boys, who had been enrolled at San Ramon Elementary School. The Ratliffs had just moved to Novato in the late summer so Charles could take a management job at Journey Ford Lincoln.

"I haven't really spoken to them since the services," Vallez said Tuesday. "We are trying to give them their space to figure things out. They really wanted to get back to Albuquerque to be close to family."

Meanwhile, fundraising efforts continue in Novato to aid the family; Charles missed a lot of work after the accident, and most of the money raised was to help alleviate day-to-day family expenses during his work hiatus. A fund in Hailey's name remains open at Wells Fargo Bank in Novato.

A group of kids from Sinaloa Middle School, where Hailey attended, pooled their resources and purchased 1,000 silicon bracelets that say "Remember Hailey," and sales have taken place on the Sinaloa campus the past two weeks, according to Sinaloa parent Linda Blum. The bracelets are being sold for $5 and all the funds are being donated to the Ratliff family, Blum said.

The kids also sold them in front of Harvest Market on Oct. 20, raising $775 and brining the total to more than $2,000.

"It's amazing community support ... I think every family felt the impact of Hailey's tragic accident," Blum said. "Many people donated without even taking a bracelet."

Bunches of bracelets are to be sold at San Ramon Elementary, San Marin High and Novato High this week. "The Ratliff family was given a batch of bracelets to take with them back to Albuquerque, and I'll send Dolores some for Hailey's cousins," Blum said. 

"The Ratliffs loved Novato, and we as a family have really appreciated the community and outpouring of support from everyone there," Vallez said.

The Novato Boulevard Safety Committee for Concerned Citizens has formed in the past few weeks, mostly involving folks living in what's called the Chase subdivision, just to the west of San Marin High and just north of the Dogbone Meadow dog park. Barb Curtice is among the neighbors trying to advocate some positive change so kids will resume walking and riding to school; meantime, most parents in the subdivision have chosen to drive their kids to school, she said.

"Our families have drawn close, as you might imagine, throughout this tragedy," Curtice said. "One of the actionable items we wanted to do in addition to creating the Hailey Ratliff Fund was to form a committee of concerned citizens to create change on that section of Novato Boulevard. We're going to see what can be done easily and quickly to help and then what other things can be done that would need to be funded. It's very grassroots right now."

Sgt. Oliver Collins of the Novato Police Department and public works chief Jason Nutt plan to appear at the neighborhood meeting Wednesday (it's not open to the public at large because of limited space in a private home).

"We plan to listen to the concerns of the community and collect their feedback," Nutt said. "... Sergeant Collins and I will provide some bicycle, pedestrian and vehicle operation safety tips."

Cameron Hicks, a mother of six, said she's frustrated to see Novato kids continuing to cross streets without using crosswalks. She said she has twice had narrow misses while behind the wheel as kids dart out in the street — one of them was one her own kids, she said.

"Nobody's getting it. Nobody's paying attention," she said. "It's just not registering. It's only been a few weeks since Hailey's accident and already people are forgetting to be careful."

Hicks is organizing the memorial walk in Hailey's honor Nov. 4. She said it would start at San Marin High and go east on Novato Boulevard to the corner of Grant Avenue, just across the street from Our Lady of Loretto Catholic Church. Donations for the Ratliff family fund will be accepted and several items will be sold to raise more money, she said. More details about the memorial walk will be released in the coming days, Hicks said.

Click here if you're interested in making a donation to the Hailey Ratliff Memorial Fund.

In Albuquerque, friends are hoping to get a section of trail near Hailey's former school renamed in her memory. The community has appealed to city council member Dan Lewis to rename the Trails Park near Tony Hillerman Middle School, and the idea is to be introduced soon to the Metropolitan Parks Advisory Board. Those supporting the idea can e-mail janetrujillo@cabq.gov.

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Brant October 24, 2012 at 04:31 PM
Re pedestrian safety in the area of Hailey's death, a quick and effective change would be to paint a pedestrian crosswalk at the corner of Novato Blvd and Sandy Creek Way. Located there, waiting pedestrians would be out of the shadow of trees, would be easily spotted by cars at the stop sign on Sandy Creek, and would very clearly have the right-of-way. Whatever else is done, the crosswalk should be painted.
Novato Native October 25, 2012 at 06:26 AM
My thoughts and prayers go out to this family - truly a heart breaking tragedy. However, I did notice the article mention "lost wages" as a result of missed work. If I understand correctly and that employer is our own "local" Novato to Journey Ford I sincerely hope the owner considers some added support of both the family and community. Even from a "business" point of view our local auto delearship could take part in safety and support and sponsor something.
angela ratliff October 29, 2012 at 03:44 PM
Hailey was 12, not 13. We will be contacting the press soon to answer a few questions and correct inaccuracies which have been aired and printed, including details of Hailey's memorial fund.

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