'Typical' intersection is scene of 2 fatal accidents State looking for solutions at Routes 7, 715

September 05, 1993|By Mike Farabaugh | Mike Farabaugh,Staff Writer

The intersection is typical of many in Harford County. It is wide, flat and rural.

And, recently, it has another distinction. It is also deadly -- the scene of two fatal accidents within 30 days.

Three people were killed and one critically injured after a motorist tried to drive across the two southbound lanes and proceed north at Routes 7 and 715 in Aberdeen.

On Aug. 31, a 41-year-old woman, a passenger in her mother's station wagon, was killed when a dump truck slammed into their Chevrolet.

Her mother is hospitalized with multiple injuries at the Maryland Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore.

On July 31, an 18-year-old bride-to-be and her sister-in-law were killed on the morning of the wedding, also hit broadside by a dump truck.

Neither driver apparently saw the trucks that demolished their vehicles, police said. Both accidents occurred during the day and weather was not a factor.

Pamela Gaines Hassenbusch of the 2000 block of Park Beach Road in Perryman died Tuesday when the station wagon driven by her 70-year-old mother, Suzanne Gaines Hassenbusch, apparently pulled from Route 7 into the path of a dump truck on Route 715.

Lawrence William Foard, 51 of the 3700 block of Dublin Road in Darlington was the driver of the dump truck, police said.

Police said skid marks on the road showed that Mr. Foard swerved, trying to avoid the crash and ran off the right shoulder of the road into a ditch.

The truck flipped onto its side, injuring the driver.

Mr. Foard was treated at Harford Memorial Hospital and released Thursday.

On July 31, Kelli Renee Newby and Janet Devonshire Newby, the matron of honor in Kelli's wedding, were struck and killed in a nearly identical collision at the same intersection.

The accidents have state highway officials scurrying to find short- and long-term solutions, said Chuck Brown, spokesman for the State Highway Administration (SHA).

Ironically, the location has not been a problem area for traffic accidents, said Aberdeen police Officer Paul Bull, who is investigating Tuesday's accident.

According to the SHA, in 1991 and last year, one accident occurred at the intersection in each of those years. Neither involved fatalities or bodily injury.

SHA officials already have conducted an on-site investigation and begun implementing short-term solutions in an effort to prevent other accidents, Mr. Brown said Thursday.

Divided-highway signs will be placed under the stop signs in both directions on Route 7 at that intersection, Mr. Brown said.

He added that one-way signs will be placed in the median to provide extra warning to motorists after they have crossed over two lanes of the four-lane highway to alert them of traffic from the other direction.

"Those new signs should be in place within several days," Mr.Brown said.

At noon Thursday traffic was steady but not heavy.

It included seven dump trucks traveling north along Route 715 from the direction of Aberdeen Proving Ground during a 10-minute visit to the site.

Visibility allows motorists on Route 7 to see about 300 yards in each direction.

Drivers heading east on Route 7 have a 30 mph speed limit approaching the stop sign at Route 715.

Eastbound motorists must first cross two southbound lanes, each 10 feet wide.

They have about 20 feet, the width of the median, to stop and look for northbound oncoming traffic.

The speed limit on Route 715 is 40 mph.

The cars involved in both fatal accidents were traveling eastbound.

The drivers apparently failed to stop in the middle of the divided highway and pulled into the path of the dump trucks.

In an effort to find a long-term solution, SHA will conduct a traffic study of the intersection.

"That involves counting cars, looking at traffic patterns and digging out accident statistics . . .," Mr. Brown said.

The study will take at least two weeks to complete.

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