Car-jack defenses: barbed wire and iron law State to fortify the I-95 rest stop where fatal auto piracy began

September 15, 1992|By James M. Coram | James M. Coram,Staff Writer

Motorists stopping at the northbound rest stop on Interstate 95 in north Laurel will soon find themselves surrounded by fences topped with barbed wire.

The State Highway Administration will add barbed wire to chain-link fences already surrounding the rest stop and to new chain-link fencing that will be built inside the old fences.

Together, the two fences will create a moat-like effect, separating the rest stop from the heavily wooded terrain that leads to nearby neighborhoods.

Police believe a man and a male teen-ager from Washington, D.C., entered nearby Bowling Brook Farms from the cover of the woods at the rest stop last week and hijacked a car with a child inside and the child's mother, who had become entangled in a seat belt, was then dragged two miles to her death.

"Four hundred thousand people stop there every month," said Del. Martin G. Madden, R-Howard. "With that kind of volume, there are going to be some incidents of madness."

Mr. Madden made a tour of the rest area Friday with an aide to state Sen. Christopher J. McCabe, R-Howard, and representatives of the State Highway Administration.

Mr. Madden said he called for the fencing after hearing fears voiced by residents at a public meeting after the car-jacking last Wednesday. He said the SHA had already planned to fence the area with barbed wire.

The purpose of the fencing is to make it as difficult as possible to leave the rest stop on foot, Mr. Madden said. "If a suspect is being pursued, it will be more difficult for him to escape," he said.

A criminal who might want to enter the neighborhoods by cover ofwoods might look at the barbed wire and say, "I better not do what I'm thinking," Mr. Madden said.

Mr. McCabe said, "It is difficult to prevent an irrational act, but the state should do everything it can to provide public safety." The fencing will "at least show some sign of commitment," he said.

SHA spokeswoman Liz Ziemski said she expects that the fencing will cost less than $100,000 and be in place as soon as possible.

"It's a high priority," she said. "We're going to try and expedite the process as soon as possible."

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