Skip to main content

Sidewalk dedication brings healing

Posted Date: 04/05/2024

Sidewalk dedication brings healing

Tragedy united two families and brought a municipality together to take steps to prevent future loss of life.

The City of Harrison wanted to add a sidewalk to State Highway Capps Road for several years and began working with the Department Of Transportation for approval. Mayor Jerry Jackson and the City’s COO/Engineer Wade Phillips personally walked the area to see if it would be possible. When the state approved, the men divided up the list of homeowners to contact to acquire the right of way for the sidewalk.

Almost 20-year-old Paul Anthony (AJ) Lummus, Jr. was fatally injured on Capps Road on Sept. 2 as he walked to work. While canvassing the neighborhood for approval, it was discovered that on Oct. 31, 1968, 13-year-old Jennifer Lee Woolston was fatally injured while taking some siblings and neighborhood children Trick-or-Treating. Both fatalities happened at the same location.

That information made the City even more determined to see this difficult project through to completion. 

Jackson said, “I knew we needed to do something special for these families when the sidewalk was completed. We are very hopeful this sidewalk will prevent future tragedies.”

On Friday, April 5, the two families gathered with Mayor Jackson, city officials, and public works staff members to place a memorial plaque at the site in memory of Jennifer and AJ.

Robert Woolston still lives in the family home at 1505 Capps Road and says the sidewalk is used daily by hundreds of people, including runners, walkers, bikers, and even one with a walker.

In 1968, the Woolston family moved to Harrison. Jennifer was the oldest of five children. The children with her that night gave her credit for saving their lives. Her sister Annette spoke at the dedication and said the community came together and treated them well at her passing, even though they were new to the area.

AJ’s mom, Sheryl Boernson, said it continues to be difficult to drive down Capps Road, knowing her only son died on his way to work. “He was born with challenges and fought to live, and that’s how he left this world, too. I always told him he was special. It was God’s time for him, but it still hurts this momma’s heart. But God has worked in my heart. I know it was an accident. I pray this sidewalk keeps other mothers from having to go through this pain.”

Boernson thanked the police officer and doctor for all they did for their family during that crisis. “We can’t bring AJ back, but I’m grateful for his life and this sidewalk. Hopefully, his life can save others.”

Jennifer’s family had the same thoughts. “Thank you for remembering our loved ones. Now, every time we look at this sidewalk, we can pray it makes a difference for another family. It will be worth it to save other lives.”