ST. LOUIS, MO—The downtown region of St. Louis has recently seen a surge in crime. Many of the crimes involve reckless driving, street racing, and firing guns in the air for spectacle. On August 17, around 2:30 a.m., 17-year-old De Soto High Schooler Sierra Ward was killed downtown near 10th and Washington Street. She was riding in the bed of a 1998 Chevy Silverado pickup truck with three friends when a 25-year-old driver in a 2014 Dodge Charger ran a red light and struck the truck at an intersection.
All four people were ejected from the truck bed and Ward died at the scene while the three others went to the hospital. Ward’s stepdad told KMOV 4 that the driver of the Dodge Charger said people were trying to rob him, so he took off speeding, ending in a crash. Witnesses to the crash and residents of the area noted that cars and motorbikes were driving recklessly and doing donuts down Washington Street a few hours before the accident and that the unsafe, wild driving is now a nightly occurrence.
Authorities made several traffic stops and nine arrests downtown and near North Riverfront neighborhoods on August 22 and August 23. Charges include felony fleeing, felony warrants, tampering arrest, public drinking, and operating an ATV on the street. Vehicles, ATV’s, and minibikes were towed and multiple firearms recovered.
Elliot Davis, an investigative reporter for FOX 2 News, said in one of his Facebook live videos recorded at downtown’s Keiner Plaza, which had tens of millions of taxpayer dollars invested into its’ beautification, that downtown is beginning to resemble the Wild West. Police foot patrol and cruisers can be seen in the background of his video.
In a video from Friday, August 21, Mayor Lyda Krewson said that this summer downtown residents reported an increase in racing and trick-driving on motorcycles and ATVs and a surge in gunfire. Krewson closed the Eads Bridge near the Gateway Arch notorious for racers speeding across it. She also closed parts of Washington Boulevard, 4th, Broadway, and Market Streets. On a Monday, August 24, Facebook live briefing Krewson said that downtown was better this past weekend and that authorities will keep working to improve its’ safety.