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Neighbors in Rita Ranch call for change after teen girl dies in car crash

By Reyna Preciado, Brooke Long,


An earlier version of this story included incorrect information about a deadly car wreck Jan. 23.

Community members in Rita Ranch say they're frustrated about the lack of safety along Mary Ann Cleveland Way.

The call for change comes after 16-year-old died in a wreck Monday, Jan. 23. The next day two more crashes were reported along Mary Ann Cleveland. Neighbors told our crew this isn't a new problem.

"It could have been my daughter," said Robert Nemitz. He's lived in the area for 10 years and says in all that time the city hasn't addressed his concerns.

"We've seen so many accidents on the road," Nemitz said. "It's local people, it's first responders, that are pulling people out of these cars and not our representatives who've been asleep at the wheel."

In 2020, Nemitz started reaching out to Tucson city councilmember Nikki Lee. His request: make Mary Ann Cleveland a two lane divided road with a passing lane. Nemitz told us he never recieved a response from Lee and neither have his neighbors who have reached out since.

"It's really becoming a political issue because of the fact that we're looking for representation and that representation seems to be asleep at the wheel," Nemitz said.

Nemitz says he started seeing crashes along this route in 2015 along with the growth of the community. He even documented some of them.

Then after two wrecks involved school buses happened in early 2017 he started his first push for change. At that time, Nemitz asked the Tucson city council for funding to add a stop light on Mary Ann Clevelend. It went up in 2018. Now, he hopes the Regional Transportation Authority will provide funding to widen the road. He says, the change would keep serving the area as it continues to grow.

"The RTA has had this project on their list for 2023. They opted to, instead, pick more projects with less community need than this road," Nemitz said. "So we're hoping to change that with the RTA so that instead of taking on those projects they take on this community need now."

In the meantime, Tucson Police are monitoring the road for speed and safe driving behaviors.


Reyna Preciado is a reporter for KGUN 9 , she joined the KGUN 9 team in July of 2022 after graduating Arizona State University. Share your story ideas with Reyna by emailing or by connecting on Instagram , or Twitter .

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