Garbage truck strikes East Baltimore home woman knocked to floor

Couple kept outside until front wall is braced

January 04, 1998|By Jamie Smith | Jamie Smith,SUN STAFF

A city garbage truck sideswiped an East Baltimore rowhouse in a narrow alley yesterday, cracking a brick wall and drawing a team of inspectors to ensure the building's stability before its longtime owners were allowed back inside.

Dorothy and Lee Jay were left in suspense for most of the morning, waiting to see if there would be fallout from the accident -- of tumbling bricks when the truck was pulled away from the wall -- and whether all of their two-story home would remain standing.

After barricading the alley and bracing the front of the building, which was marred by a 3-foot-long crack and a section of bricks hanging out at an angle, city housing officials said it looked as if the house would survive and the Jays could stay.

"By bracing it, the bricks won't shift anymore," said Housing Commissioner Daniel P. Henson III, noting that a contractor hired by the Jays -- not the city -- would fix the house in the 1100 block of N. Luzerne Ave.

L "There's no structural damage to the building," Henson said.

But Lee Jay, 63, a retired city employee who once drove a trash truck himself, was not entirely happy.

"I'm upset. You'd have to be," Jay said, adding that he planned to talk to a lawyer.

He said he was outside washing his car and saw the truck hit the south side of the end rowhouse where he and his wife have lived since 1966.

His 56-year-old wife was in the bedroom, and the impact was enough to throw her to the floor.

"The bricks are separated and the floor has come apart in the corner," she said.

Police, who were notified of the accident about 8: 30 a.m., said the driver, Jerry Alfonzo Brown of the 2100 block of Bowleys Lane, steered the truck too close to the house and pulled part of the wall out 6 inches.

No charge was lodged against Brown by the police yesterday, but city public works chief George G. Balog said the driver will have to appear before a department accident review board.

It wasn't until 11 a.m. that a tow truck pulled the green garbage truck away to the side.

"They were concerned if they moved the truck [forward], the whole front was going to fall," Eastern District police Officer Kenneth Clark said, adding: "I've never handled anything like this before."

'Barreling' through alleys

As city police and housing officials went about their work, neighbors and passers-by sat on front stoops or crowded around the yellow police tape separating them from the house.

Across the street, Franklin Lamont Echols, standing in front of his holiday-decked home, looked over at the damage and sighed, "I tell you, I can't believe this."

Echols, who has lived on Luzerne Avenue for 13 years, said he's called the city several times with complaints about trash crews, who drive through the neighborhood every Wednesday and Saturday.

"They come barreling down through the alleys," he said. "I'm very frustrated, because this shouldn't happen."

Dorothy Jay was just happy to hear she would not be spending the night in a hotel.

"I'll sleep in the living room, just as long as I can stay in my home," she said to friends and family gathered outside the building.

Pub Date: 1/04/98

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