A proposal to bring ice cream trucks back to Des Moines for the first time in 40 years created some heated debate at a city council hearing Tuesday The ban on ice cream trucks came about in 1967 after nine-year-old Donna O’Callaghan was hit by a car and killed after buying ice cream. Des Moines Police Sergeant Brian Vance was a young kid who was with O’Callaghan on the day she died.
"When Donna was hit, I didn’t understand what exactly took place., " Vance says, " I knew she was screaming for her parents and then, a gurgling sound. And she fell asleep in the street. And to this day, I still remember that." Vance says: "I would hate to see any resident, parent, go through that tragedy like the O’Callaghan’s did 40 years ago. And also for any child to witness that again."
But the man who wants to bring as many as 25 ice cream trucks to Des Moines said moderns trucks are equipped with safety features that were not available 40 years ago. Still, Lawrence Williams says you can’t remove all dangers from a child’s life. He says: "There’s risk every day in life. Crossing the street, anybody can get hit crossing the street. It has nothing to do with the ice cream truck." Williams says there’s a need for his ice cream trucks.
"A lot of people don’t have transportation to get out. And the good thing about ice cream vending is that it comes straight to your home." Williams said it may be safer for children to buy from an ice cream truck because they won’t have to venture out on their bikes or on foot. Vance says he would have to be shown that the trucks meet some stiff safety regulations before he would want them back. The Des Moines Traffic and Safety Committee will consider lifting the ban and make a recommendation at the Council’s April 23rd meeting.