Shoshana Rachel Stern Accident Analysis

Sad news from Central Boca Raton as we learned that 12-year-old Shoshana Rachel Stern passed away after being hit by a car on Sunday night. Our hearts go out to her family and friends.

Update2: Read about Shoshie’s funeral in the Sun Sentinel, a warm story that brings hope from this tragedy.

Having read some short news stories about this incident, we decided to do a preliminary investigation to see if we can get a better understanding of what happened.

We first read about it in the Sun Sentinel. The story reports that the accident occurred at 7:05 pm. That appears to be before sunset (7:43 pm per It also reports that the driver, Marvin Stanley James was headed westbound. That would suggest he was driving into the sun, which may have impaired his ability to see ahead.

This picture from SunCalc shows the sun would have been positioned nearly due west at the time of the incident, a touch toward West Northwest.

It’s hard to tell whether the sun was a factor. If James was in the far right lane it’s likely trees would have blocked the sun. If he was in the far left lane the sun was a greater risk. We do not know at this point which lane he was in.

Update: Thanks to an anonymous commenter, there’s some indication the accident occurred at a different intersection than the one originally indicated. See image below for a picture of the other intersection of Boca Del Mar Drive and Palmetto Park Road:

In some ways this makes more sense, but on the other hand it doesn’t fit with why the Sun Sentinel referenced “the Boca Colony Apartment Homes nearby”, which are just south of the other intersection. We hope to learn more and further update our analysis. This new information calls into question our earlier analysis, below.

There’s also a short version of the story on the WPEC website. It includes comments posted by readers, some of which seem to be hasty judgments about who is at fault.

One anonymous commenter writes:

Were you there? because I was, and that’s NOT what happened. The driver wasn’t at fault and should NOT be slandered like this. It was a green light for the driver and the girl crossed the crosswalk on her skateboard while the cross walk was RED. She didn’t even stop to look. I also saw the car afterward, and if you had seen the car, you’d see that she literally ran into the car as opposed to the car hitting her

This comment does not seem credible. First, of course, it’s anonymous. Second, looking at this intersection on Google Maps, there is no crosswalk and there’s no light for the driver at all. Here are views from above and a street view.

Of course it’s possible that the intersection has changed since these photos were taken. But it’s hard to see why there would be a crosswalk across Palmetto. There’s no sidewalk on the north side of the road. Indeed it’s puzzling why Ms. Stern, or any pedestrian, would cross Palmetto at this intersection. We will visit the location in the next few days and update if we find anything different.

Another commenter went the other way:

Even IF Shoshana did walk without looking, IT IS UP TO THE DRIVER TO WATCH WHERE IN THE WORLD THEY ARE GOING. Do NOT take the blame off of the driver, he KILLED A BEAUTIFUL CHILD. Shame on you for even trying to defend that guy for killing her.

This also seems to be a hasty judgment. We don’t know what happened yet, and we may never know for sure.

Another writes:

This area is just not pedestrian friendly. Drivers are not paying attention to the road.

We would have to agree that the area is not pedestrian friendly. On this initial analysis that’s because it’s not supposed to be pedestrian friendly. That’s why there’s no crosswalk. Pedestrians should not cross an 8-lane roadway with a 50 mph speed limit at an uncontrolled intersection (no crosswalk, traffic signals or other devices to control vehicle traffic).

With that said, we can’t know whether James did anything wrong. And we don’t know what exactly Stern did or why she did it. We look forward to a full report from the police when it becomes available.

Regardless of fault, we at West Boca News extend our sincere condolences to the Stern family and our thoughts are with Mr. James and his family as well.


  1. Anonymous

    Mr. Redlich, you are looking at the wrong intersection; that’s why it doesn’t make sense as to why Shoshie was crossing this very busy road with no sidewalk on the north side. Look further west, where West Palmetto Park Rd meets Boca del Mar Rd again and it will all make sense.

    This is the correct map:

    May Hashem console Shoshie’s family and the community at large on this most tragic loss. Hopefully the city/county/FDOT will fix this intersection ASAP and provide a safe crosswalk with traffic lights to avoid any future accidents and tragedies.

  2. Thank you for that message. It’s still not completely clear because the Sun Sentinel references this happening near “the Boca Colony Apartment Homes” which are just south of the intersection pictured in the article.

    But it certainly makes more sense if it happened where you say. Not that this kind of tragedy ever makes sense.

  3. Looking at the western intersection, it’s not clear what more can be done to make the intersection safer. It does have crosswalk lights and traffic lights.

    Anonymous asks for “a safe crosswalk”. There is no such thing. Believing crosswalks are safe creates a false sense of security. While the driver might be at fault (we don’t know this yet), we must still teach our kids to keep their eyes open and watch for cars that make mistakes, and we have to hope our kids will listen.

  4. Angela Riccardoo

    Shoshana was still a child, & children seem to think that they are immortal. They don’t think anything can happen to them, so they sometimes take risks. Even if she is in complete fault, she should not be slandered in anyway. Her family has been through so much, & will always deal with this loss of their child. On the other hand, the driver of the car in question also has to deal with this tragedy forever. Everyone always has to keep their eyes on the road, & never take them off for a second. That means texting & driving also. I am not saying that is what happened, I’m just saying we can never be to careful when driving. It was an accident plain & simple, one that will impact all those involved for the rest of their lives. Very sad. RIP, Shoshana.

  5. Fred McHale

    It’s an unfortunate tragedy. The left turning lane had a red light which is why she might have thought she could cross as she could not see over the stopped cars in the turning lane and might have thought all westbound traffic had a red light. The cars in the turning lane also would have prevented the driver from seeing the girl in the intersection. Some witness reports said she also had her headphones in while crossing.

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