Rock throwers threaten I-83 motorists near York

November 25, 1993|By Joe Nawrozki | Joe Nawrozki,Staff Writer

Pennsylvania State Police are advising motorists heading to or from Baltimore to avoid a stretch of Interstate-83 near York, where people throwing rocks have damaged at least 20 cars and injured several drivers.

One person needed more than 100 stitches in his face after being cut by his shattered windshield.

Cpl. Craig Fenstermaucher of the York County detachment of the Pennsylvania State Police said two vehicles were hit yesterday by white sandstone rocks, generally the size of a human fist, near exits 7 and 12 outside of York. No one was injured.

"This is a very twisted, dangerous situation, and we are pulling out all the stops in an effort to catch the people responsible," he said.

Authorities have some leads, he said.

Since Nov. 13, officials said, motorists have reported being struck with rocks while driving on I-83 in the vicinity of York, about 20 miles from the Maryland state line. The attacks have occurred between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m.

Other injuries have included facial cuts and bruises and a fractured collarbone.

Pennsylvania State Police have increased ground and air patrols to catch the suspects, believed to be juveniles or young adults. Also, troopers are dressed in mufti and are driving undercover vehicles on the special detail.

Corporal Fenstermaucher said the attacks have occurred in the southbound and northbound lanes. One method has been for a suspect to drop a 1- to 3-pound missile from an overpass onto vehicles below.

Or, police said, the culprit or culprits travel in the passing lane and lob the stones over a cement median and into oncoming traffic.

To decrease the possibility of this type of attack, motorists are advised to travel in the slower, non-passing lanes.

Witnesses say the attacks happen quickly and unexpectedly. The glare of oncoming headlights and the surrounding darkness make it difficult to see the stones before they hit.

Michael McKelvin, a spokesman for the Maryland State Police, said yesterday that 1st Sgt. John Watts, assistant commander of the Golden Ring Barracks, traveled to York to talk to authorities there.

"While we have had no such incidents here in Maryland, we are offering our assistance to our counterparts in Pennsylvania," said Mr. McKelvin. "We're also collecting some intelligence data to assess the possibility of similar acts in Maryland."

Concerned motorists may call the Pennsylvania State Police in York at (717) 848-6355.

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