HUTCHINSON, Kan. (KSNW) – The Hutchinson community is making a change after a tragedy.

The road 29-year-old Nikia Thomas was taking on her way home from the Reno County Jail when she was struck by a vehicle (KSN Photo)

On Thursday, March 23, police say 29-year-old Nikia Thomas was on her way home from the Reno County Jail when she was struck by a vehicle. It happened around 8:30 p.m. She was rushed to a Wichita hospital, where she later died.

Members of the community are stepping up to make sure this doesn’t happen to anyone else.

Less than a week after Thomas was hit, the Kansas Recovery Network came up with The Nikia Project – a system that provides rides to people getting out of jail.

The crash has led many in the Hutchinson community to speak up, saying the walk from the Reno County Jail back toward town is unsafe.

“When people are released from jail, especially after dark, there’s nowhere for them to walk other than the road. And there’s no real way for drivers to see them other than headlights, and sometimes that’s not enough time,” said Jacci Espinosa, Kansas Recovery Network Treasurer.

Espinosa said when the crash happened last Thursday, she began to hear of more people walking in the area who had close calls.

“When this happened, I heard a lot of stories about people that have had to walk, about people that have picked up people who were walking in the cold, in the snow, in the dark,” said Espinosa.

So she began working on a solution – contacting Axels Taxi for help.

“If we were able to raise money to pay for rides, would you be willing to give the rides? And they agreed to do so,” said Espinosa.

“Ever since we started Axel’s Taxi, that was our main goal was to be a bigger part of the community and try to help out in the community more,” said Samantha Ratley, Axel’s Taxi Owner.

The Kansas Recovery Network has been raising money to pay for those rides – and the organization will work with Ratley to get their taxi bills paid.

“We just want to make sure they get home safe and back to their families safe. One act of kindness honestly can make the world of difference,” said Ratley.

Espinosa said she hopes that this is just the beginning.

“We are encouraging everyone to reach out to their elected officials, whether it be the City, the County, the State and really just ask for street lights. That would be a really good first step,” said Espinosa.

She said, ideally, a second step would be adding sidewalks.

KSN reached out to the City of Hutchinson, and the City Manager said they don’t have any current plans in place to make changes to the area.

If you would like to donate to the GoFundMe for The Nikia Project, click here.