Home­own­ers shaken af­ter near miss from big rig


Special from the Bay Times

— Denise Hart­ing had just stepped off her front porch and back into the house af­ter feed­ing her cats July 6 when a trac­tor­trailer car­ry­ing a full load of as­phalt millings over­turned in her yard, just miss­ing the house.

Trees in Hart­ing’s front yard — which were de­stroyed — and a berm of dirt planted by the pre­vi­ous home­own­ers likely slowed the ve­hi­cle enough to keep it from slid­ing into the home.

The ini­tial re­port from Mary­land State Po­lice Centreville Bar­racks iden­ti­fied the ve­hi­cle that landed in Hart­ing’s yard as a green, 2003 In­ter­na­tional Truck Trac­tor driven by Christo­pher Corey Car­valho, of Navron, Pa.

Car­valho had a mi­nor pas­sen­ger with him. The ve­hi­cle was trav­el­ing east on state Route 304 in the area of Dean Road about 11 a.m., and weather con­di­tions were re­ported as clear.

Satur­day, three days af­ter the ac­ci­dent, Hart­ing was still vis­i­bly shaken — try-


ing to re­cover from what could have been a much more dev­as­tat­ing ac­ci­dent, she said.

De­bris and truck parts lit­tered the yard and tire marks were still vis­i­ble on the road. Rem­nants of the truck’s load of as­phalt millings piled in the front and side yard. The tree that was in front of Hart­ing’s porch was shat­tered in pieces against the house.

At the cor­ner of the yard fac­ing 304, Hart­ing’s hus­band, Paul, placed a large sign that said, “Thanks Truck­ers, Slow Down!”

Paul Hart­ing has him­self been a com­mer­cial truck driver for many years and is well aware, he said, of the stress and dan­ger of the job. He also said he knows how eas­ily ex­cess speed can cause a truck to turn over or not be able to slow down in time.

The posted speed limit in front of the Hart­ings’ house, next to the Ruths­burg Com­mu­nity Cen­ter, is 30 mph.

Dur­ing the Hart­ings’ in­ter­view, a tanker truck ap­proached, trav­el­ing seem­ingly in ex­cess of the posted speed limit. Paul Hart­ing flagged the driver down and spoke with him about his speed.

Denise Hart­ing said they are of­ten met with crude hand ges­tures and honks when they stand in front of their house and wave for driv­ers to slow their speed.

The Hart­ings both said they are up­set and frus­trated with the strain of hav­ing to re­peat­edly con­tact the in­surance com­pany and the added stress the ac­ci­dent has added to their daily lives.

They said they are most up­set that they keep hear­ing, “It could have been worse.”

Is it go­ing to take some­one get­ting killed here be­fore peo­ple re­al­ize how se­ri­ous this prob­lem is, they asked.

They noted that pedes­tri­ans fre­quently cross that stretch of road to ac­cess their mail­boxes and also pointed out a school bus stop in the im­me­di­ate vicin­ity and bi­cy­cle traf­fic to­ward the Ad­kins Ar­bore­tum and Tuck­a­hoe State Park.

SHA per­formed a speed study of the Route 304 (Ruths­burg Road) and state Route 481 (Dam­son­town Road) in­ter­sec­tion in spring 2002, Char­lie Gis­chlar, a spokesman for the Mary­land State High­way Ad­min­is­tra­tion, said. The study showed that mo­torists may have been, at the time, ex­ceed­ing the speed limit through Ruths­burg be­cause the ap­proach speed to the town, from the east and west, was 50 mph and quickly low­ered to 25 mph near Route 481 in town.

SHA and the com­mu­nity worked to­gether to help mo­torists be able to better slow through the Ruths­burg by low­er­ing the ap­proach speed from 50 mph to 40 mph and in­creas­ing the town speed limit from 25 mph to 30 mph, Gis­chlar said.

Reports from SHA in­di­cate the av­er­age daily traf­fic vol­ume near the Route 304 and Route 481 in­ter­sec­tion is nearly 3,700 ve­hi­cles per day. Truck traf­fic — semis and sin­gle-unit trucks — make up about 12 per­cent of the 3,700, or about 325 trucks daily.

West of Route 481, there is no shoul­der and very lit­tle SHA right of way. From Route 481 and con­tin­u­ing east where the right of way is wider, there ap­pears to be 6-foot shoul­ders, Gis­chlar re­ported.

Tpr. E. Per­tain said the ac­ci­dent re­port was still pend­ing at press time. He added there likely will be an in­crease in pa­trol in that area of high­way.

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