Girl's death highlights safety issues about crosswalk on Dundalk Avenue

12-year-old on bicycle was struck by van at `dangerous intersection'

October 18, 2004|By Jennifer McMenamin | Jennifer McMenamin,SUN STAFF

At a busy crosswalk on Dundalk Avenue, a memorial has sprouted in tribute to a bubbly little girl who loved to bike through the neighborhood and as a reminder of the risk that nearby residents and passers-by say they have long feared at the intersection.

The pile of stuffed animals, cards, flowers and candles on the median strip at Dundalk Avenue and Center Place marks the spot where, six days ago, 12-year-old Corrine Ashley Roth was hit by a van and killed. The Dundalk Middle School seventh-grader, who was not wearing a helmet, had been riding her bike from her home to the adult day care center where her mother worked.

"It is a dangerous intersection. We've always had problems with that intersection," said Ralph Wickes, 61, who has lived in the area for 21 years and uses the crosswalk several times a day as he goes between his apartment on the west side of Dundalk Avenue and the shopping area across the street.

The problem, residents say, is the configuration of the divided, four-lane thoroughfare - Dundalk Avenue - and the crosswalk and flashing red light at Center Place near Dundalk Veterans Park.

Coming from the west side of Dundalk Avenue, drivers on Center Place can only turn right onto the avenue, forcing them to look left for oncoming traffic. But the crosswalk is to the right of the intersection, and motorists don't always check that direction before pulling out into traffic and sometimes into the path of pedestrians, residents say.

The flashing red light at Dundalk Avenue on Center Place turns solid red, prohibiting all turns, when pedestrians are granted the go-ahead by the crosswalk signal.

"It's confusing," Wickes said. "Drivers come to the intersection and see something that's not cut-and-dried; that's an opportunity to shave a few points and get on their way."

Corrine was killed about 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, when she was struck by a delivery company van driven by Gregory Eldridge, 50, of Baltimore. No charges have been filed, and police are investigating the accident.

It was the third accident at the intersection this year, according to Officer Shawn Vinson, a spokesman with Baltimore County police. There were two accidents - neither fatal - at the crosswalk last year.

The entire county stretch of Dundalk Avenue saw 31 accidents last year, and 22 so far this year, Vinson said.

Corrine's father, Paul Roth, is a journeyman plumber and a Dundalk native. His eyes well up quickly when he talks about his only child - a girl who liked fishing, camping and baking and was known at Dundalk Middle for giving lunch money to friends who had none.

"Everyone loved her at school," said classmate Sophia McCargish, 12. "If there were any fights at that school, she would have stopped them in a matter of seconds."

At a candlelight vigil Tuesday night, police closed one lane in each direction on Dundalk Avenue as dozens of people gathered at the crosswalk to pay tribute to Corrine and to bemoan an intersection that residents say has been the site of four fatalities in 15 years. They want public officials to convert the flashing red light into a traditional traffic light and add signs that prohibit all right turns on red.

"At the vigil, we invited the police officers there to come say a prayer with us. But they said they couldn't," Roth said. "They were too busy writing down the license plate numbers of people running the red light there."

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