3 deaths near playground spur citizens' safety push

September 17, 1992|By Frank D. Roylance | Frank D. Roylance,Staff Writer

When 6-year-old Sam Hulett -- the son of Orioles infielder Tim Hulett -- was killed July 22, he became the third child in five years to be fatally struck while running from a Cockeysville playground into traffic on Greenside Drive.

Now, two of the Huletts' neighbors are nearing victory in their bid to have the playground fenced.

Debbie Smith and Jill Ball have found fence contractors willing to donate the labor and materials. The managers of Deertree Apartments, where the playground is, have approved the work. Installation could start this week.

But neighborhood residents, the apartment managers, school and county traffic officials agree more than a fence is needed to prevent similar tragedies.

"I'm delighted with the fence, but I hope that doesn't give parents a false sense of security," said Dorothy L. Dorman, principal of Padonia Elementary School, two blocks away. "Children at this age are so spontaneous, they act before they think."

Mrs. Smith and Mrs. Ball have started a petition drive asking the county to put a four-way stop and crosswalks at Greenside Drive and Sorley Road, at the south end of the planned fence and a block closer to the accident scene than an existing four-way stop at Galloway Avenue.

County traffic engineers have vetoed the idea. They say it would make the busy road less safe and that the best solution is education.

Mrs. Dorman said uniformed county police officers are scheduled to speak to more than 400 children at a Padonia Elementary assembly today about crossing Greenside Drive. The officers will be invited back in June, before school ends.

"Maybe that will make an impression," Mrs. Dorman said.

Sam Hulett never attended Padonia Elementary. He lived in Springfield, Ill., most of the year, and spent his summers in Cockeysville.

He was playing at the Deertree playground just before he was struck. Police said he ran into traffic from in front of a parked truck, apparently headed toward his family's apartment across the street.

He died the next day at the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at Johns Hopkins Children's Center.

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