Sometimes, a local official finds the need for government action becomes personal.

At the Dunwoody City Council meeting Feb. 11, Councilman John Heneghan called for street improvements around Dunwoody schools.

He introduced his list of suggested improvements by telling a tale of recent events that led him to conclude the work was needed. Just a few days before, a car nearly struck Heneghan’s 7-year-old son, Declan, as the boy walked to school.

An active blogger, Heneghan has posted his story on the Internet beneath the headline “A hero walks among us – a Dunwoody crossing guard saved my son’s life.” To see his full account, go to

Here’s a quick version of his story.

Declan, a first grader at Chesnut Charter Elementary, walks to school each day. On Feb. 7, the school crossing guard, Lorraine Knox, assembled a few children at the crosswalk in front of the school and stopped traffic with her lighted stop sign.

As the group crossed, a pickup appeared heading toward the crosswalk, he said. It showed no sign that it would stop. Ms. Knox “took it upon herself to push my son Declan out of the way of the large pickup truck,” Heneghan said. “Declan’s rolling backpack was hit and dragged 10 feet down the road.”

“By all accounts, Ms. Knox saved my son Declan’s life and the Heneghan family will be forever grateful,” Heneghan said.

The driver of the pickup stopped and left his name and a copy of his driver’s license with the school. Later, he was charged with failing to obey an authorized person directing traffic.

“This incident needs to be a wake-up call to the community and I am not saying that just as the father, but also as the city councilman who is worried about your children,” Heneghan said, reading from his blog entry.

He proposed that sidewalks around all Dunwoody schools be evaluated to make sure they are wide enough for parent and child to walk side by side; that standardized, high reflective crossing guard uniforms and devices be given to all crossing guards; and that the schools and city start courses on traffic and bike safety.

“I would like each PTA, as well as the Dunwoody community in general, to start planning for Wednesday, May 1, which is national crossing guard appreciation day,” he said. “Though I am not sure I want to wait that long to honor Ms. Knox and other dedicated crossing guards.”

John Heneghanm

Joe Earle

Joe Earle is Editor-at-Large. He has more than 30-years of experience with daily newspapers, including the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and was Managing Editor of Reporter Newspapers.