Crist comes to Manatee to sign red-light camera bill

LAKEWOOD RANCH -- Gov. Charlie Crist came to Manatee County today to ceremonially sign a bill designed to deter red-light runners through the use of surveillance cameras.

He did so in front of a host of law enforcement officers, elected officials, and with six-year-old Madison Wandall at his elbow and Madison's mother, Melissa Wandall standing to his right.

The bill bears the name of Mark Wandall, who was killed in a traffic accident near the entrance of Tara six years ago. The crash was caused by another driver who ran a red light, just weeks before his daughter, Madison, was born.

Tuesday, Madison held and kissed a photograph of her late father throughout a press conference at the Dan and Corrine McClure Center at Lakewood Ranch.

Melissa Wandall, who worked for five years to win passage of the Mark Wandall Safety Act, said losing her husband in an auto crash was not the life she would have chosen. But that working for a bill designed to bring more safety to Florida highways was one way to bring something positive out of the tragedy.

To her late husband, she said, "Mark, I love you. I will never love you less than the day I married you."

Sarasota resident Bud Wandall, the father of Mark Wandall, said the bill appeared to be agonizingly close to passage last year when it failed in the dying hours of the legislative session.

"No one should have to bury a child," Bud Wandall said. "Melissa has made the best of a real bad situation."