Along the 22800 block of Bulverde Road on San Antonio’s far North Side, small bouquets of flowers line a chain link fence to commemorate a 17-year-old who lost his life when his car overturned in a retention basin.
Kyle Loveday was driving home after dinner with friends on Jan. 18 when he lost control of his vehicle and skidded across grass made slick from a day of misty weather until it plunged more than 20 feet down. He was killed on impact.
The dark, curvy stretch of road is dangerous for all vehicles and drivers, said Danny Loveday, Kyle’s father. “There needs to be protections in the area to make it safer. They could add lights or a guardrail. Due diligence needs to be done to make this area safer.”
Kyle went missing on a Friday night, and hundreds of people joined area first responders to help look for the teenager, who was active in his community, and spent his free time feeding the homeless and participating in mission trips to help people in need. His car was found two days later, when a jogger noticed it at the bottom of the basin.
“The reason no one found him was because there was little indication of there being an accident; just a couple of really light skid marks on the road. The fence around the basin just looked like it had been opened,” Loveday said.
When it was confirmed that it was Kyle who had been killed, within hours the fence surrounding the basin was covered in balloons, flowers, notes and plastic cups that spelled out his name.
“Kyle’s death has become an important issue for the community,” his mother Michelle told the Rivard Report. “Kids and families drive past the memorial and it brings up the opportunity to think about the importance of safe driving, and for parents to remind their kids to stay in touch, and to always stay present while on the road and update when they get to where they are headed.”
The memorial has become such a fixture in the neighborhood that when it was mistakenly taken down by County contracted workers on Monday, people reached out to the Lovedays to alert them that it had been removed.
“My family and I will pitch in to help rebuild Kyle’s memorial. Kyle’s memorial is a daily reminder to our kids to slow down and think of others. We think of you and your family every time we pass by” one family said in a message to the Lovedays.
On Wednesday, Loveday was able to retrieve from the Bexar County Public Works Department all of the original memorial fixtures, which included notes, stuffed animals, and crosses that hung along the fence.
He said the family plans to put the mementos back up on the fence early next week, and it will be placed alongside the new memorial that was put up just hours after families realized it had been taken down.
“What’s kind of funny about this situation is that Kyle didn’t like chaos. He didn’t like a lot of hubbub. If he was here right now he would be telling us all to just stop, saying we are making too big of a deal out of it,” Loveday said. “But the more we talk about it, the greater the chance the area will become safer.”
Since the accident, the Lovedays have met with both City and County officials to see about getting lights put in and a guardrail installed along the side of the road where there is a large patch of grass leading up to the basin.
“While I can’t say that a guardrail would have for sure saved his life, it would have given him a better chance, and it would have at least helped better indicate that an accident had taken place,” Loveday said.
The stretch of road where the accident took place is located just outside of the City limits, so when the family spoke to Councilman John Courage (D9), they were told it was an issue that they would need to discuss with the County.
When the family contacted County Commissioner Kevin Wolff, he told them that the protections around the basin met required standards, because it had a fence around it Loveday said.
“They have done what is legal, but I don’t know if you can create a moral standard there because of the situation and how that area is designed,” Loveday said.
Commissioner Wolff’s office did not respond to requests for comment.
Ana Garcia, a resident who lives nearby, said the unlit stretch of road “has been problematic for some time now.”
“The [45 mph] speed limit is high considering we are so close to a school, and there is no lighting. It’s hard to safely pull out onto the street from where I live, because cars fly through,” Garcia said. “You’d think that regardless of where this street is located, that officials would want to make it safer.”
The Lovedays are hopeful that they can turn the tragedy into something positive by pushing elected officials toward taking ownership of putting more protective measures in place in the area.
“Lights would help. A guardrail would help because it could deflect the car or shed some of the damage. Anything in that area to help visibility is needed. If this can happen once it can happen again,” Loveday said.