Runaway parks department trailer strikes vehicle, hurts driver, jams traffic

Accident closes U.S. 29, creating 4-mile backup

July 30, 1999|By Nancy A. Youssef | Nancy A. Youssef,SUN STAFF

A trailer that escaped from a Howard County Parks and Recreation truck after chains snapped crashed into a northbound vehicle on U.S. 29 yesterday morning causing a traffic backup for about three hours.

John Peach, 40, of the 3400 block of Church Road in Ellicott City was driving south on U.S. 29 between Routes 108 and 175 when the 14-foot trailer came loose.

The trailer was carrying a garden tractor used to mow fields and baseball parks.

"He felt the trailer moving, [and] it appears he tried to slow down," said Sgt. A. J. Bellido de Luna, who supervises the department's traffic enforcement section.

The trailer traveled into the median and struck a northbound Chevrolet Suburban at 9: 44 a.m., police said.

The Suburban's driver, Thomas Fox, 49, of Sandy Spring, was transported to Maryland Shock Trauma Center, where he was listed in serious but stable condition last evening.

Officials closed both directions of U.S. 29 for about 10 minutes to bring in a state police MedEvac helicopter to transport Fox. The northbound side of the road remained closed for two more hours, creating a four-mile backup. Drivers were diverted onto Route 175, police said.

Peach was not injured but was taken to Howard County General Hospital after suffering chest pains, said Gary Arthur, the recreation and parks director.

The garden tractor and trailer -- valued at about $30,000 -- were totaled.

Peach has worked for the park service for more than 15 years, often making trips like yesterday's, Arthur said. Last year, he helped teach a one-day course to some of the 121 recreation and parks employees on how to attach trailers to trucks.

Peach had attached the trailer that came loose to the truck, Arthur said.

Police are investigating.

Arthur said parks officials had no immediate plan to take action against Peach.

"That has not been determined," he said. "We are waiting to see how he feels and for the police report."

Pub Date: 7/30/99

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